Tributes to Polish count and distinguished psychoanalyst who has died
A Polish count and cousin of a famous female spy, who was forced into exile from his home country after the Second World War, has died after living in Hampstead for 40 years.
Distinguished psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Count Andrzej Karol Skarbek, who ran the Langham Clinic from the basement of his Belsize Square home, died last week aged 86.
Born into a Polish aristocratic family, he was forced to escape occupied Poland as a young man in 1943 boarding a Red Cross train, and went into hiding in Budapest before joining the army in Ancona, Italy, in 1945.
His wife Marjorie Wallace, CBE, from whom he was separated but remained very close, said: “He had this extraordinary life. He first came to Britain as a young man having escaped the Germans and the Russians and then went into hiding for a couple of years. He joined the army in Italy and then came to Britain and became a medical student.”
The couple met when she was studying for a psychology and philosophy degree at University College London and he was conducting research into the effect of drugs and medicines.
Ms Wallace became a guinea pig in the trials and the couple were later married in 1974 and had three sons. Count Skarbek also has four children from a previous marriage.
His family history includes links with the composer Chopin, who was born in the grounds of Count Skarbek’s family estate of Zelazowa Wola in Warsaw, and the psychoanalyst’s father was the minister of defence for the Polish government in exile.
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But it was his identification of the body of his cousin Krystyna Skarbek, a renowned spy who was found stabbed to death in a Kensington hotel room in 1952, that perhaps holds most historical fascination.
She became a legend in her lifetime and soon after death penetrated popular culture, as James Bond author Ian Fleming reportedly modelled Bond girls Vesper Lynd and Tatiana Romanova on the female special agent.
Count Skarbek is remembered for his career as a distinguished psychoanalyst and his love of Polish culture.
“He was an incurably romantic figure,” said his wife. “He loved opera and Polish music, all the wonderful old Polish songs, and he was quite unforgettable.”
He is survived by Ms Wallace and their sons Sacha, Stefan and Justin.
The funeral mass will be held at The English Martyrs RC Church in Horley, Surrey, at 10.45am on Friday, December 2. All are welcome to attend.