George Ignace Florian Bernard Fudakowski

by George C. Fudakowski/Ford, George's son

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george fudakowski 1899

George was born in Warsaw on August 20, 1880, to Kazimiera Lipeska Fudakowska and Zygmunt Fudakowski.

Not wanting his son educated in an anti-Polish Russian school, Zygmunt sent George to a German school at the age of eight. He lived with the Polish family of one of the teachers, staying until graduation and learning both the German and Polish views of history. George then studied electrical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute in Dresden, graduating in 1904. He associated with Americans there and learned English well.

Zygmunt died in 1895, leaving behind a young family with George as its nominal head. There was competition for the limited money between educating the children and the comfortable way of life to which his mother, Kazimiera, was accustomed.

After graduation, George spent a year in Berlin as an engineer, then moved to Paris, where he obtained a job with Westinghouse using his knowledge of English, French, and German. While there he met Nina Videl, the daughter of a well-known Polish lawyer. (The family name Videl is sometimes spelled Weydel or Waydel.) They were married in 1910 and their daughter Maria Renata (Rena) was born on July 19, 1911. The family returned to Warsaw to be closer to Nina's family and George continued to work for Westinghouse and later Siemens.

When World War I broke out in 1914, the family, which was on holiday on the Baltic, suddenly found itself unable to return to Warsaw. George had taken his military training in the German army and reported for duty as an officer. It happened that the military doctor was a Pole, who said to George, "I am sorry you have a heart condition, and I cannot accept you." Saved from war service, George contacted Siemens, who provided funds for the family to go to Berlin, and George to the company headquarters in Nuremberg. With the help of Nina's father the family was able to escape back to Warsaw as Russian citizens by December 1914.

On May 12, 1915, Zygmunt Jan was born. With the capture of Poland by the Germans in August 1915, George, a German officer changing his citizenship to Russian, was unable to stay and instead went with the departing Russians to St. Petersburg (Petrograd). His family stayed behind in Warsaw. George again found work with Westinghouse, this time in St. Petersburg. Nina fell victim to an epidemic and died in December, 1915. Rena and Zygmunt lived with their grandfather and maternal aunt. George did not learn of his wife's death until a year later.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, George found himself unable to remain in St. Petersburg, and made his way to New York early the following year. There he got in touch with the Polish community and took a position at the Polish White Cross, a relief agency founded by Helena Paderewski, wife of the concert pianist Ignacy Paderewski. The Paderewskis proposed to match the widower with Leonida Krajewska, a young American of Polish background. They were married on November 16, 1918, five days after the armistice that ended World War I.

George and Leonida lived in New York for about a year. An article in the Chicago Daily Tribune dated March 17, 1919 describes George's efforts to establish a trade center in the US. Its purpose was to facilitate investment in, and trade with, the newly independent but war-wracked Poland. In October, the couple moved to Warsaw so that George could reunite with his children and introduce them to their stepmother.

The next several years were difficult for the family, as the turmoil of postwar Warsaw and Leonida's desire to return to the US combined to bring the couple back there in June, 1921. Their son Thomas Ignace, who was born the previous summer, was with them, but Rena and Zygmunt remained in Poland in the care of their grandfather and maternal aunt. George and Leonida's second son George Casimir was born in New York in 1922.

In 1923 George, Sr., returned to Warsaw, and the couple divorced after a long series of court cases. He died in Warsaw on May 31, 1957.

george with zygmunt and rena in 1927
George with Zygmunt and Rena in Warsaw, 1927

Additional research by George W. Ford, George's grandson.

Fudakowski-Krajewski family home