Conflict, War and Revolution: My Life, the memoir of Baroness Alessandra Kozlowska (1892-1975), is a vivid retelling of her life from childhood to the end of the Second World War. It begins with her life of wealth and status in the Caucasus, where her father was in oil, and ends with internment as an alien in rural Italy, in Ospedaletto. In between she survived two revolutions in Russia and the subsequent civil war, her travels in central Europe during World War One, her life in Italy during the inter-war years, and her internment there, almost terminated by German forces.
It is the story of her struggle to keep her family together through the huge and sometimes deadly changes of early twentieth century Europe. Alessandra Kozlowska was a formidable woman, quick witted, polylingual, and full of kindness and compassion. Her story reads like a novel as she moved in continental ‘society’ yet was also at the forefront of events in Russia from where her family was forced to flee after a confrontation with the Red Army, having given refuge to the president of the Duma. By this time Alessandra was married to a Polish count, had had a narrow escape as a Russian in Austria during World War I, and had lost touch with her brother and sister in the White Army in Russia. The family was partially united after the civil war, but fractured again with World War II.
The history rolls unstoppably through Alessandra’s story, yet her character and background gave her the strength to endure things which would have caused most people to despair. Conflict, War and Revolution: My Life is a remarkable account of a woman in the twentieth century.