Week Five of Resonating Women of the Paris Commune
Listen here to For Lodoyska improvisation on Roland digital keyboard
Lodoyska Kawecka was of Polish origin but there is little published information about her family background.
During the Paris Commune, Lodoyska dressed in military clothing, with Turco trousers, a crimson velvet embroidered hussar’s vest , gold-tasselled boots, a hat with a red cockade and two revolvers hanging from her blue sash. She was a frequent participant in various radical political clubs such as the one at Saint-Sulpice church in the 6th arrondissement (where women made up the majority of members) and the Club of Délivrance, at the Church of the Trinity in the 9th arrondissement. At the Club des Libres Penseurs in Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois in the 1st arrondissement, alongside Nathalie Lemel and other women, she argued for the acceptance of union libre, divorce and equality for women across a range of issues directly affecting their lives.
The tradition of radical political clubs, inspired by the 1789-92 revolution and revived in 1848, had emerged from the underground in the year leading up to the Commune. A wide range of issues were discussed including political strategy, social reforms, women’s rights, attitudes to the church and how to organise, defend and strengthen the barricades. The clubs, made up mainly of workers, attracted huge enthusiastic audiences. Between 36 and 50 clubs met daily, mostly in the working-class districts with women playing a prominent role.
Lodoyska contributed political articles to Le Journal de Citoyennes de la Commune. Through to the end of the Commune, Lodoyska took her place on the barricades and took part in the street fighting to defend the Gare Montparnasse. In the aftermath, along with her husband – Wladyslawa Konstantego Kaweckiego, commander of the 202nd battalion of the National Guard and lieutenant-colonel of the Turcos of the Commune – she took refuge in London but little more appears to have been published by scholars about her later life.
J Cox, ‘Genderquake: socialist women and the commune’, International Socialist Quarterly Review of Socialist Theory, Issue 69, posted 5 January 2021
C. Eichner, Surmounting the Barricades, Women in the Paris Commune, 2004
E. Thomas, The Women Incendiaries, 1966
Bloodworth, S. , ‘Celebrating the Paris Commune of 1871: “Glorious harbinger of a new society” in Marxist Left Review, No. 21, Summer 2021
My letterpress prints are made on paper salvaged from a discarded series of 19thc technical manuals sourced in Tarnac, a small rural community in Corrèze, one of the ‘reddest cantons in France as a whole’ (Ad Knotter, ‘Little Moscows in Western Europe: the Ecology of Small-place Communism’, International Review of Social History, 2011)