02 Aug Antoni Chrościelewski
fot: Chrościelewski’s family archive
A life story that spans half the world, from Siberia to America, but a journey made against his will. Antoni Chrościelewski introduced Americans to the sound of Poland.
Antoni Chrościelewski was an influential figure in New York’s Polish-American community. In 1980 he took over as director of the Polish National Home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Together with his wife, he founded the Angelus choir to promote Polish singers. He was also a civic activist, and for many years ran the Polish Army Veterans’ Association in America. The association was created to provide aid to veterans of Poland’s fight for independence, especially those who struggled with disabilities, illness, and financial difficulties. In 2020 Chrościelewski was awarded the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta, one of Poland’s highest honors, for his contributions to society.
It was the crowning achievement of his life-long efforts to promote Polish culture overseas and to support his compatriots.
But his life was far from easy. Antoni Chrościelewski was born in 1924. Sixteen years later, he and his family were exiled to Siberia by the Russians. After two years, he managed to escape the Soviet Union—that “inhuman land,” as the writer Józef Czapski called it—by enlisting in Anders’ Army. Under General Anders’ command, he marched through Russia, Iraq, and Palestine, before ending up in Italy, where he took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino and helped drive German forces out of many cities and fortresses. After World War II, along with many of his fellow soldiers, he settled in the United States, where he devoted himself entirely to Polish culture and music.