Janina Kłopocka

Janina Kłopocka on the balcony of her Warsaw apartment at 12 Chmielna street.
Janina Kłopocka on the balcony of her Warsaw apartment at 12 Chmielna street.

Janina Kłopocka – The creator of the “Rodło” emblem

 

The life of the outstanding artist, Janina Kłopocka, the creator of the graphic emblem of the Union of Poles in Germany, the so-called „Rodło“ sign, is a typical example of the knotty fate of Poles in the 20th century. Her life was an extremely strenuous and ambitious struggle to take up a profession offering her opportunities for creative design. On the one hand she struggled to overcome cultural boundaries, was strongly committed to her fatherland and her people in which she suffered many painful experiences and periods of extreme peril. But Kłopocka’s life also contained moments of disappointment with the political situation in Poland and the restrictions to Polish sovereignty after 1945. Despite serving time in a Stalinist prison she never forsook her country, but was determined to find a way back into her artistic work. Her legacy has somewhat fallen into oblivion but it deserves to be recalled and publicised.

Janina Kłopocka was born on 18. August 1904 in Koźmin, a small town in Greater Poland, half way between Berlin and Warsaw. Small towns were to be a constant point of reference throughout her life. She lived in such places for many years and her thoughts continually returned there. Her parents were a baker by the name of Jan Kłopocki (1879-1914) and his wife Marianna, whose maiden name was Niedźwiedzińska (1875-1961). Janina had two younger siblings, a sister named Łucja and a brother, Marian. The family lived a very modest life and when her father failed to find a better-paid job he moved to Berlin in 1907. His family joined him in the following year after he had found regular employment. 

Janina was still very young but she soon grew accustomed to her new surroundings, and made her first acquaintances and friends. In 1911 she began school at a Catholic school for girls – the Bischof Dr. Assmansche Katholische Höhere Mädchenschule, that changed its name to Scherings’ches Lyzeum in 1912 – where she remained until 1921. In 1914 a major upheaval shattered the relatively secure lives of the Kłopocki family: the First World War broke out and Jan Kłopocki was summoned to join the ranks of the German army because he was considered a Hohenzollern subject. Shortly after he was killed and from then on Janina’s mother had to earn the family’s living. 

“I was born in Greater Poland” said Janina Kłopocka in an interview, “and spent my youth in Berlin. My father fell in the First World War and I attribute my success to the stubbornness of my poor, wonderful mother and... myself.” 

There were very few Polish girls in the German grammar school attended by Janina. One of her best friends was Elżbieta, the daughter of the Polish politician, Wojciech Korfanty, from Upper Silesia. During her time at the grammar school Janina became interested in art and produced her first watercolour drawings as well as a portrait of her sister. One of her favourite artists was the painter, Albrecht Dürer. On a visit to the Lissowski family in Upper Silesian Michałowice she also portrayed “living pictures” from Polish history. Her mother placed great value on her children receiving a “national” education. Hence she tried to compensate for the influences of the German school and German surroundings. In 1914 she registered Janina and her sister Łucja with the Berlin “nest” of the Polish “Sokół” (the Polish gymnastics club, the Falcons). In 1922 the Union of Poles in Germany was set up and Janina joined it one year later.

Related content:

Mediathek
  • Janina Kłopocka on a school trip (Second row, second from the left).

    Berlin 1915

    Janina Kłopocka on a school trip (Second row, second from the left).
  • Schoolgirls at the Scherings’chen Lyceum. Janina Kłopocka (Second row, second from the left).

    Berlin 1916

    Schoolgirls at the Scherings’chen Lyceum.
  • Schoolgirls at the Scherings’chen Lyceum. Janina Kłopocka (First row, second from the left).

    Berlin 1917

    Schoolgirls at the Scherings’chen Lyceum. Janina Kłopocka (First row, second from the left).
  • “Living Pictures” from Polish history with patriotic texts by the 15-year-old Janina Kłopocka.

    Michałkowice in Schlesien ca. 1919

    “Living Pictures” from Polish history with patriotic texts by the 15-year-old Janina Kłopocka.
  • The youthful Janina Kłopocka

    1920

    The youthful Janina Kłopocka
  • Janina Kłopocka as A-level student.

    1921

    Janina Kłopocka as A-level student.
  • Janina Kłopocka as a student.

    1920er Jahre

    Janina Kłopocka as a student.
  • An excursion by the Polish “Harmonia” Singing Club in Berlin.
 Janina Kłopocka with her sister, Łucja (on the right in a dark coat).

    1920er Jahre

    An excursion by the Polish “Harmonia” Singing Club in Berlin.
 Janina Kłopocka with her sister, Łucja (on the right in a dark coat).
  • Janina Kłopocka

    Start of the 1930s

    Janina Kłopocka
  • Janina Kłopocka: the Rodło emblem

    1933

    Janina Kłopocka: the Rodło emblem
  • Janina Kłopocka: the Rodło emblem  with Weichsel-river and the „Truths of Poles“.

    1933

    Janina Kłopocka: the Rodło emblem with Weichsel-river and the „Truths of Poles“.
  • The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1934 with Rodło emblem of Janina Kłopocka.

    1934

    The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1934 with Rodło emblem of Janina Kłopocka.
  • Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1935, 10.

    1935

    Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1935, 10.
  • Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1936, 5.

    1936

    Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1936, 5.
  • Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 1.

    1937

    Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 1.
  • Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 3.

    1937

    Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 3.
  • Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 10 with Photo by Aleksander Kraskiewicz (Polish grammer school in Marienwerder).

    1937

    Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 10 with Photo by Aleksander Kraskiewicz (Polish grammer school in Marienwerder).
  • Janina Kłopocka: drawing for Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 6.

    1937

    Janina Kłopocka: drawing for Młody Polak w Niemczech 1937, 6.
  • Congress of Poles in Germany. The setting with the Chapel of the Joyful Mother of God, the “Rodło“ emblem and  the linden leaf, the emblem of Polish youth in Germany, was designed by Janina Kłopocka.

    Berlin 6. März 1938

    Congress of Poles in Germany.
  • Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1939, 4.

    1939

    Janina Kłopocka The Cover of Młody Polak w Niemczech 1939, 4.
  • Janina Kłopocka after she was released from prison.

    Ca. 1954

    Janina Kłopocka after she was released from prison.
  • Janina Kłopocka on the balcony of her Warsaw apartment at 12 Chmielna street.

    Ca. 1958

    Janina Kłopocka on the balcony of her Warsaw apartment at 12 Chmielna street.
  • Janina Kłopocka with her friend, Felicja Wacyk, the wife of Antoni Wacyk, on the balcony of her Warsaw apartment  at 12 Chmielna street.

    Ca. 1958

    Janina Kłopocka with her friend, Felicja Wacyk, the wife of Antoni Wacyk, on the balcony of her Warsaw apartment at 12 Chmielna street.
  • An exhibition of works by Janina Kłopocka in Opole 1972, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary  of the founding of the Union of Poles in Germany. Janina Kłopocka with her niece, Maria Kłopocka.

    1972

    An exhibition of works by Janina Kłopocka in Opole 1972, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Union of Poles in Germany.
  • An exhibition of works by Janina Kłopocka in Opole 1972, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary  of the founding of the Union of Poles in Germany. L to r: Maria Kłopocka, Janina Kłopocka, Janinas Bruder Marian, Edmund Osmańczyk and Janina’s sister, Łucja.

    1972

    An exhibition of works by Janina Kłopocka in Opole 1972, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Union of Poles in Germany.
  • The official unveiling of the restored cycle of frescoes “Polski Rok Obrzędowy”  made in 1936 and 1937 in the Polish House in Zakrzewo.

    1972

    The official unveiling of the restored cycle of frescoes “Polski Rok Obrzędowy” made in 1936 and 1937 in the Polish House in Zakrzewo.
  • The official unveiling of the restored cycle of frescoes “Polski Rok Obrzędowy”  made in 1936 and 1937 in the Polish House in Zakrzewo. Behind Janina Kłopocka, Dominik Ochendal.

    1972

    The official unveiling of the restored cycle of frescoes “Polski Rok Obrzędowy” made in 1936 and 1937 in the Polish House in Zakrzewo. Behind Janina Kłopocka, Dominik Ochendal.
  • The coat of arms of the village of Zakrzewo, featuring the Rodło emblem.

    Zakrzewo

    The coat of arms of the village of Zakrzewo, featuring the Rodło emblem.
  • A Jubilee medal based on a design by Janina Kłopocka, coined on the occasion of the 50th anniversary  of the foundation of the Union of Poles in Germany.

    1972

    A Jubilee medal based on a design by Janina Kłopocka, coined on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Union of Poles in Germany.
  • A postcard based on a design by Janina Kłopocka issued on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the  Union of Poles in Germany.

    1972

    A postcard based on a design by Janina Kłopocka issued on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Union of Poles in Germany.