Irene Kierski – WWII POW Veteran Honored with Quilt of Valor 

        When most people hear the word POW (prisoner of war), they often think of men, but that is not always the case. This month, we introduce you to Irene Kierski, 91, of Wilkins Township, who is the oldest living female POW from World War II in the Pittsburgh area. She served in the Polish Army for four years under the command of the British. 

        Kierski’s story began back in her hometown of Plock, Poland. She was only 14 years old when Germany invaded Poland at the start of World War II. In 1941, she was taken from her family and deported to work in Germany. She eventually found her way back to Warsaw, Poland, but in 1944, she was forced into Germany once more–this time to a prison camp in Lamsdorf.  

       Kierski wrote a 237-page memoir, which details her wartime story. Traces of My History tells Kierski’s story as a POW in two separate camps, joining Great Britain’s armed forces and working at a YMCA canteen. The book also tells how she settled in England, started a family and eventually came to Pittsburgh in 1968. “I was a married mother of five children, and I focused on my family during the children’s youth. I had my own babysitting service for working parents in my home until I retired,” Kierski said. 

       For her bravery, Kierski was honored with a Quilt of Valor from the North Pittsburgh Quilts of Valor on Oct. 6. She was deeply touched that she was recognized with this Quilt of Valor. “It will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Kierski. 

       Her daughters, Barbara Grossman and Ann Szilagyi, event organizers of the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival, attended a Quilt Show hosted by the North Hills Quilt Guild. At this show, they spoke to representatives of the North Pittsburgh Quilts of Valor who graciously offered to sew a Quilt of Valor for their mother. 

       The quilt will be displayed at the 2018 Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival in April 2018, an annual event held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It will be displayed along with other quilts from the region, including Quilts of Valor honoring veterans. 

 By Paula Green