Accessibility links

Breaking News

USAGM Honors VOA Polish Broadcaster Zofia Korbonska

Zofia Korbonska at VOA in the 1970s. (VOA)

The U.S. Agency for Global Media is paying tribute to Zofia Korbońska, a member of the anti-Nazi resistance movement who later worked for the VOA Polish service, on the 10th anniversary of her death.

Korbońska, born in Warsaw in 1912, was a member of the Police Underground Army, which fought against the Nazis.

“On a daily basis, she risked her life writing and coding secret shortwave radio transmissions sent from Poland to the Polish government-in-exile in London. A number of her dispatches that reached the free world were broadcast back into occupied Europe by the BBC,” said a statement from USAGM, which oversees VOA and other U.S.-funded broadcast entities. “In addition to her clandestine radio work, Korbońska was also a partner in the work of her husband, Stefan Korboński, the leader of Poland’s anti-Nazi civil resistance and the last head of the Polish Underground State.”

After the end of World War Two, both Korbońska and her husband were arrested in Poland by the NKVD Soviet secret police. They were released after several interrogations. They escaped to Sweden in 1947 before eventually finding refuge in the United States.

In 1980, Korbońska began a more than three-decade career with VOA’s Polish service, using the pen name “Zofia Orlowska” to protect her family and friends back home. She wrote and recorded occasional programs in the 1980’s after her retirement.

She died in Washington on August 16, 2010.

Poland slipped to number 62 on Reporters Without Borders annual ranking of countries press freedom in 2020.

The group said Warsaw's moves to criminalize defamation and other policies are impacting freedom of expression of independent media outlets. It says some courts are using a criminal code article that allows journalists to be sentenced to up to a year in prison for defamation, which is encouraging self-censorship by the media.