Historical story

The loudest lesbian in pre-war Poland

In the depths of big city debauchery. The monstrous secret of an elegant apartment at ul. Mazowiecka. These are just the first two headlines of an article published on November 16, 1923 by "Express Poranny" - a popular Warsaw boulevard. In total, the text had as many as five titles. All bold, all oxen. So that every reader immediately understands that it is a completely unique story.

It had everything your heart desires:an exciting car chase, kidnapping a child, a secret investigation and a desperate father. And on top of that (as the next three titles screamed about):there were also lesbians.

The author of the text explained that on Mazowiecka Street there was a mysterious medical office run by a certain "Dr. S". "There were bizarre versions of this house, disturbing the opinion, alerting the police ..." - he built up the tension. Suspicions had been growing for years. Now they could finally give way to facts. All thanks to Mr. Sz. - a triple unhappy husband. His wife abandoned him and tried to trick his children away.

And as if the tragedy was not enough, she did everything thanks to the evil plots of a female doctor:

Here she was a victim of perversion, illness, she was a regular "client" of Dr. S. in the house on Mazowiecka Street. This testimony of Mr. S. was actually the first impulse to discover the monstrous secret. At the same time, various anonymous reports began to come in to the police, one more horrible than the other.

The authors (...) were mostly husbands, complaining that (...) their wives, after longer visits to Dr. S. in Mazowiecka, revealed exceptional exhaustion , discouragement, nervous anxiety that from loving wives and good mothers they turned into depressed women, discouraged from family life ...

After the wife left Mr. Sz. the latter decided to accuse a well-known Warsaw doctor of seducing the other half (source:public domain).

Finally an anonymity came to the police about two fatal accidents. The author of this anonymous wrote that orgies were taking place in Dr. S.'s apartment. safism. Women drugged with secret drugs by Dr. S. come to some madness of love, they are mad with unnatural lust ... In this cave young victims are killed, because of the women, excited about the drug, gives up once to an unhealthy drive, is lost once and for all for her husband, for home for the world.

Poland has not heard of such an affair yet. Sexual abuse of women by another woman. Forced drug administration. Homosexual orgies. Secret murders against "a famous actress of Warsaw theaters" and "a person from the higher society in Warsaw". Everything behind the door of the apartment with an innocent-sounding sign "Doctor of Internal Medicine". There were no arrests, but the journalist assured that the police were on the trail. And he won't let go.

Women Lost to the World

History spread like wildfire across the country. On the same day, Warsaw afternoon papers wrote about it. Newspapers in Łódź also picked up the topic. The next day - Kraków, Poznań, Katowice. Two days later, even a farmer near Stanisławów knew the story of the mysterious "Dr. S.". Society asked for details.

The case of a lesbian doctor electrified not only Warsaw but also the whole of Poland. The picture shows a postcard from 1923 (source:public domain).

After all, "Express Poranny" said that among Sadowska's patients (lover? Victims?) There are "wives of eminent personalities from the political and aristocratic world"; that these are "the most famous names in Warsaw and the country". The article did not mention the suspect's personal data, but there was an address. Crowds began to gather in front of the tenement house at 7 Mazowiecka Street. The curious did not have to search long. There was only one doctor's office in the building. "Dr. S." she was in fact Dr. Zofia Sadowska. But she was neither a murderer nor a brothel.

Women of high society visited her - but for treatments and tests. And not in orgies. And it's probably hard to be surprised at their choice. Sadowska had an excellent reputation as a doctor. Nobody remembered it now, but a few years earlier, newspapers admired that she was the first Polish woman in the Russian Empire to receive the title of doctor of medicine. The police must have known the truth. Contrary to the suggestions of "Express" Sadowska, no charges were brought. I don't think anyone even questioned her.

Thoroughly fabricated evidence

The case has been pulled out of the finger. A historian who studies the life of Sadowska, Agnieszka Wesela, explains:“Two gentlemen decided to harm her. One claimed that she had seduced his sister and niece, the other that she had seduced his wife. They hired a detective who carried denunciations - to the Medical Chamber, to the university, to the tabloid press. There were accusations of grooming minors, administering drugs, running a lesbian meeting room. "

There was only one truth in the story that was true. Sadowska was indeed a lesbian, and she never hid it particularly among the Warsaw elite. She probably lived in the conviction that there was no such need. It's the 20th century. An era of progress and tolerance in which, at least in Warsaw, no one comes to bed. If same-sex relationships were perplexing, it was only for men. Nobody cared about homosexual women.

Sadowska was so convinced of this that she decided to defend her good name. She sued the publisher and editor-in-chief of Express Poranny for defamation. And at first she even seemed to be doing the right thing.

Zofia Sadowska was the first Polish woman to obtain a doctorate in medicine from a Russian university. In the photo (he is sitting in the center) together with other members of the Association of Polish Women Students in Saint Petersburg (source:public domain).

Extremely spicy details of… normality

It is November 23, a few days after Warsaw magazine writers unleashed the whole scandal. The Łódź magazine "Express Wieczorny Ilustrowany" (coincidence of the name with "Express Poranny" is accidental) publishes an article entitled Dr. Zofia Sadowska and her lovers. What is "Lesbian Love" .

The text might as well appear in any modern sexology textbook:

Well-known psychopathologist prof. Krafft-Ebing distinguished between the so-called perversion from perversitat. Only the latter is what we call perversion, and therefore artificially refined eroticism, while the former is admittedly a deviation, but only in the sense of a certain branch of the natural erotic feeling (...).

From this point of view alone, everyone in the scientific world already treats homosexual love.

"A branch from the natural feeling"? And for this homosexual love without quotes? It doesn't sound scary. After this fragment, one might even think that the journal is on the Sadowska side. The author of the text, however, reassured the readers that the world did not turn upside down. And that "Express Wieczorny Ilustrowany" will meet its tabloid obligations.

The case of the famous erotic scandal (...) is getting wider and wider (...). In order to inform our readers about the details of this loud scandal, "Express" hired a special detective in Warsaw, who collected extremely abundant material, and in its content simply sensational.

In a number of issues we will publish extremely interesting accounts (...) that comprehensively describe the whole scandal, full of details and extremely spicy.

In short, we know what you want. We will spit on Sadowska and rummage in her private filth. For the fun of the crowd. It was sex and gossip that mattered, not who was right. Even less importance was attached to the doctors' opinion on homosexuality. From the next issue of "Express Wieczorny Ilustrowany", she will be slopping perverted Sadowska like any other newspaper. Or rather:like any other, except for the titles published by Dom Prasy S.A., because there the scale of lies and innuendo will exceed the limits of the absurd.

On November 23, 1923, the Łódź-based "Express Wieczorny Ilustrowany" devoted an extensive article to the Sadowska case (source:public domain).

A lost war in advance

Sadowska did not predict that by suing "Express Poranny", she also declares war on the entire media concern. The same owner included "Kurier Czerwony", "Express Wileński", "Kurier Podlasia", "Express Pomorski", "Dziennik Białostocki", "Express Wileński", "Express Kujawski" and "Nowy Dziennik Kresowy". All these titles are now allied against the brave doctor. It was simply impossible to win such a battle.

The Press House easily reversed the roles. He persuaded readers that this publishing house was the prosecutor and the dissolute lesbian a suspect. "Touched by the revelations of" Express morning "(...) Dr. Z. Sadowska will prove her innocence before the court" - reported in February 1924. And this version has already stayed. Years later, even Irena Krzywicka, known for her insight, will remember the famous case of a doctor "accused of lesbian practices". Even the court believed it.

The trial quickly turned into a bizarre debate about the plaintiff's sexual tastes. Although in the first instance, Sadowska was partially successful, in the second instance, the publisher was relieved of all charges. It was 1925, and no one remembered anymore that the doctor had entered the fray only to protect her dignity. The press failed to demonize Sadowska. Instead, she was completely ridiculed.

The tabloid press quickly convinced readers that it was not the Press House that was sued by Sadowska, but that she would "prove her innocence before the court" (source:public domain).

Girls don't know what their happiness lacks

At the beginning of 1925, the erotic magazine "Cupid" published a handful of reports about the most famous lesbian in the Commonwealth. Apparently, "to put an end to the rumors," she fired the cook and the maid and took men in their place.

Apparently, "in the Women's Club with Life Znudzonych" she postulated that women should take control of all editorial offices in the city by force, to finally put an end to her problems. Apparently even a film was made about her, in an exclusive "atelje at Mazowiecka Street". Planned title: Don't even talk about it .

One crap was chasing another, and everyone was laughing. Or at least - to everyone except Sadowska itself. Imperceptibly, she became not only a loud homosexual, but even the face of homosexuality. For Poles in 1925, the surname Sadowska was equal to the word lesbian. Or vice versa.

The case brought by Sadowska to the editor of "Kurier Poranny" was widely reported by the press all over the country. Krakow's "Ikac" also wrote about it (source:public domain).

In another issue of "Cupid" he quoted a humorous poem. Complaints of the lover who discovered that the chosen one of his heart is unattainable:

She is as beautiful as a dream. She has a pretty, rolled-up breasts
It has an enchanting look and an angelic shape of the mouth.
I would not enumerate everything that this divine creation has,
But unfortunately, what do I do with this ... Because the patient is Sadowska.


The above article is just a brief outline of the fascinating topic of pre-war contraception. In the first decades of the 20th century, resourcefulness went hand in hand with desperation or even madness. Pregnancy has been prevented using x-rays, radium placed in the uterus, and even bull's-eye injections. At the same time, it was then that the prototype of the first effective contraceptive pill was created! You can read about all this and not only in detail in the latest book by Kamil Janicki: “The epoch of hypocrisy. Sex and erotica in pre-war Poland ” .


  1. Magdalena Dubrowska, A pre-war scandalist. Candle for erased from memory , "Gazeta Wyborcza. Warsaw ”, November 6, 2011.
  2. Stanisław Łoza, Do you know who it is? , Drukarnia Wydawnicza, Warsaw 1939.
  3. Wojciech Szot, Zofia Sadowska in the reports of the tabloid press , "Homiki.pl", November 7, 2011.
  4. Krzysztof Tomasik, Homobiographies , Krytyki Polityczna Publishing House, Warsaw 2014.
  5. Wiesław Władyka, Blood on the front page. Sensational dailies of the Second Republic of Poland , Czytelnik, Warsaw 1982.