• February 11, 2015
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Stanisław Narutowicz – Polish-Lithuanian perfect knight (2)

Wiktoria Narutowicz heads to Lipawa (Liepāja) in order to secure the education of her sons. It is not far, even when we look at it from the perspective of the second half of the 19th century. Her main goal is to place the boys in the prestigious German secondary school. Its education level and liberal atmosphere makes it much better than the schools from the area of the Kovno Governorate and the Vilna Governorate.

On the Latvian land

Wiktoria managed to buy a flat by Badestrasse. She got accustomed to the multinational (Jews, Latvians, Russians and a lot of Poles) harbor town. In Lipawa (Liepāja), young Narutowicz brothers met Tadeusz Rechniewski (1862-1916), a man fascinated with socialist ideas and a future creator of the Proletariat.

Stanisław Narutowicz said years later: “the rebellious ideology that I learned in 1863, the one closely linked with the care of the ordinary people, made me closer to the original form of socialism which was still depraved of the hatred towards social classes.”

Petersburg, Kiev, Zurich, Kalisz…

When the matura exam of her sons was drawing near, Wiktoria got Brewiki (Brėvikiai) back, and the descendants of Jan Narutowicz relinquished their ownership rights. It is commonly known that in the second half of the 19th century on the territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania there were no Polish schools and the process of russification was only getting stronger. In 1882, Stanisław got into the Law Department of the Petersburg University, some time later Gabriel got into the Department of Mathematics and Physics on the same university.

However, Petersburg constituted only a short period in the lives of Narutowicz brothers. Stanisław had to leave the city because he was persecuted for his socialist activity. Gabriel, on the other hand, was forced to leave due to his progressive tuberculosis, and eventually emigrated to Davos in Switzerland. When his health condition got better, the younger Narutowicz, got into the Zurich University of Technology.

Stanisław continued his education in Kiev; on the Law Department of the Saint Vladimir University founded by emperor Nicolas I of Russia. It is highly probable that the brothers stayed in touch during their studies. Joanna Billewicz, future wife of Stanisław, studied philosophy in Zurich. She was born in Klisze near Viekšniai (Samogitia). She was involved in the activities of the left-winged youth. They got married in Vilnius in 1888.

Gabriel stayed in Switzerland. He had a great career as an engineer of hydroelectric power stations and a university lecturer. Prior to the World War I he became a Dean of the Engineering Department at the previously mentioned university of technology.

After graduating from their universities, Stanisław and Joanna returned to Brewiki (Brėvikiai). In 1899, they moved to Kalisz. Their children attended Polish schools which were still unavailable in Lithuania. Stanisław was the head of the gasworks in Kalisz for five years.

In the heat of the Lithuanian activity
The return to the family estate coincided with the sociopolitical changes in Lithuania. The period from 1905 to 1906 was a time of liberalization of the borderlands of the Russian Empire: Polish and Lithuanian press occurred, performances, concerts not only in Russian. The elementary schools run in Polish and Lithuanian started to exist. However, it is also the time of first arguments between Poles and Lithuanians; the churches argued about the supposed language of the masses.

Nevertheless, Narutowiczs were doing well in the constantly changing society of Samogitia. Aside from being a lawyer Stanisław Narutowicz also attempted to create a secondary school for men in Telšiai. At the time, Joanna already founded the secondary school for women and personally opted for the implementation of the Lithuanian language there which gained her an enormous respect of the local community. The young couple managed to renew the manor, establish a farm, and found a dairy cooperative which became famous in the whole region.

Years later, Fr. Mykolas Vaitkus from Telšiai wrote about Joanna: “An elegant women. Black-haired, wide face with a slightly sad smile, dark and sad eyes, not talkative or talking slowly. Solid, serious, well educated, magnanimous teacher, good administrator, great mother (practically the head of the family…)”. The parish priest was a bit critical about Stanisław: “friendly, good-natured, very active; however, unpractical, dreamer, social-democrat, ready to make the lives of the poor better, even at the cost of giving his manor to the people”.

Simultaneously Vaitkus admitted that Narutowiczs were the most active, and the most important family in Telšiai.

Translated by Damian Gabryś within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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