Helena and Zofia


Helena Maria, called Hela, was born in Zułów in 1864 as the first child in the Piłsudski family. The archives and family diaries make little mention of her life, and in the Diary written by Bronisław, she is presented as a person who helped raise her younger siblings and someone extremely pious: “Oh, pious Hela wants to become a saint, I guess, but she never wants to enter a monastery. Zula says that her letter with name-day wishes was full of blessings only, and asks where she goes to pray.” On the other hand, she did not differ from other sisters attending dance evenings at her aunt Hołownia’s house together with Zofia and Ludwika. She died at the age of 53 during World War I in a psychiatric hospital. She was buried at the Rossa Cemetery.

Helena Maria Piłsudska, around the year 1900
Photo from the collection of the Józef Piłsudski Family Foundation

Zofia Felicia, called Zula, was a year younger than Helena and was close to both Bronisław (called Broniś) and Józef (called Ziuk). This is what the older of her two younger brothers wrote about her, “She is so good, she takes care of the household, cares for herself and nurses her father and mother with self denial, she dances well, it’s pleasure to talk to her, and her only fault is that she is too thin.” On 22 September 1884 at the St. Peter and Paul’s Church in Vilnius, she married Bronisław Marcin Kadenacy, a physician twenty-three years her senior. They had eight children. She died in Warszawa in 1935. She was buried in the Bernardine Cemetery in Vilnius.

Portrait of Zofia and Helena Piłsudski, from the collection of the Józef Piłsudski Museum in Sulejówek
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