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Nasielski, Adam (1911–2009)

by Rowena Evans

Adam Nasielski, c.1960

Adam Nasielski, c.1960

Adam  Nasielski, lawyer, writer, manager and linguist, was born in Warsaw, Poland, on July 1, 1911. He attended a British college, and later concluded his studies as a Doctor of Criminology at Warsaw University.

In 1932, at the age of 21, Adam wrote his first book, the murder mystery Ace of Spades, which became a best seller. It was translated into English and was so popular that its publishers, Macdonald’s, printed seven editions of the novel. Adam wrote over 30 novels before the outbreak of the Second World War.

At the commencement of the war, Adam was lecturing at Columbia University in New York. He returned to Poland to join the Polish army. On the collapse of Poland, he fled to Athens and volunteered for the British Air Force, but was not accepted because of astigmatism. He joined the French army. In May 1940 Adam was captured and spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany, working as a translator; he was fluent in Polish, English, French and German. He also worked for a German film company, Bavaria Film Kunst in Munich whilst a prisoner of war.

After the war, on his demobilisation, Adam went to Hamburg, and stayed in a Displaced Persons’ Camp where he met Ksenia Nimm, who became his wife. Her university studies in languages in Estonia had been cut short by the war, and Ksenia had narrowly escaped deportation to Siberia. She was now working with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Hamburg. They were married in April 1946. Adam was employed as Legal Advisor by UNRRA 521 (R) MIL. GOV. DET and established his own legal practice. He was then a defence counsel in the British Control Commission courts in Hamburg.

In 1948-49 the Nasielskis emigrated to Australia, arriving on January 15, 1949. Migrants entering Australia had to work wherever they were sent. Adam went to the Department of Labour in Dee Why NSW. He worked as a labourer and was later sent to attend a course of catering management in Melbourne.

Ksenia worked as a housekeeper for Dr Maida Hall, in Sydney. The two families became lifelong friends.

On Adam’s return from Melbourne he worked as a junior catering manager in Burwood Hostel, and later catering manager at Villawood Hostel. Despite his education and experience, backed up by a letter of recommendation from the Hon. Justice Fanthorpe, Judge of the Supreme Court, Schleswig Holstein Region, to the Attorney General NSW, Mr Clarence Edward Martin, Adam’s qualifications as a Doctor of Criminology were not recognized by the Australian Government because the Polish and Australian Governments did not recognise each other’s university degrees. Mr Martin advised him that he would have to be an articled clerk for three years before recognition would be granted.

During this time, Adam and John Macarthur King, manager of the Villawood and Burwood migrant hostels, were founding members of the Burwood RSL Club. In the late 1950s Adam joined the Cooma NSW branch of the RSL.

On hearing of opportunities in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, Adam and Ksenia applied for jobs there. Both arrived in Island Bend in 1951. Adam worked in the Scheme’s Catering Department in Island Bend and Cooma until 1954 before transferring to the housing branch, preparing leases. In 1955, Ksenia joined him in Cooma, working in finance and then as employment officer until retirement in 1985.

Adam retired in 1972 and enjoyed travelling, visiting five continents and almost every country in the world. 

Adam died peacefully in Cooma Hospital on January 23 after a long illness, aged 97. He is survived by his wife, Ksenia.

Men of Achievement Twelfth Edition 1987

Published by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England.

NASIELSKI.  Adam, b. 1 July 1911 Warsaw, Poland. Author and Journalist; Retired Barrister. m. Ksenia Nimm, 30 Apr. 1946. Education. LLM 1932,  Candidate for Doctor’s degree, Seminar of Criminal Law, University of Warsaw, 1931-34. Appointments: Legal Apprentice, Court of Appeals, Warsaw, 1932-34; Articled (acting) Barrister & Solicitor, Warsaw, 1934-38; Author and freelance Journalist, 1932-; Civil Service, Snowy Mountains, Australia, 1949-, Journalist and Writer, Polish News, Catholic Weekly and La Culture, Paris. Publications. Several books published in Poland 1932-38; “Ace of Spades”, published England, 1943; Essays, short stories, travelogues, published in Australia, 1954-.  Memberships: Associate Member, Chamber of Barristers, Warsaw, 1934-38; International PEN, Sydney Centre, Australia; Polish Union of Journalists, London; National Geographic Society, USA; Returned Services League, Australia. Hobbies: Travelling; Classical music; Reading  (history); Gardening. Address: 22 Blairgowrie Avenue, Cooma, NSW, 2630, Australia.

Original publication

  • Cooma Monaro Express (NSW), 5 March 2009, p 8

Additional Resources

Citation details

Rowena Evans, 'Nasielski, Adam (1911–2009)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/nasielski-adam-27020/text34492, accessed 18 September 2019.

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