Leon Loria (born 5 November 1883 in Warsaw, died 8 April 1932 in Zakopane) – a lawyer, lieutenant colonel of the Polish Army's Air Force and a Tatra mountaineer.
Loria was born in Warsaw into the family of sales representative Adolf Luria and Felicia nee Friede. His family moved to Kraków, where Leon completed the St Hyacinth Middle School. He then went on to study at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University. In 1913, he received his PhD and found a job as lawyer's clerk in Nowy Targ.
After the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he served in the Polish Legions (1st Artillery Regiment, 1st Uhlan Regiment). After the Oath Crisis of July 1917, Loria returned to his legal profession. He continued to be a member of the Polish Military Organisation.
In November 1918, Loria joined the Polish Army as second lieutenant. He worked as adjutant officer in the Supreme Commander's office. He attended the French Pilot School in Warsaw, but did not complete the course. During the Polish-Bolshevik war, he was assigned as spotter to the 1st Wielkopolska Squadron (12th Intelligence Squadron). He was promoted to the rank of captain for his merits, and in the spring of 1921 his rank was revised to mayor. From June 1919, Loria was the commander of the 12th Airborne Intelligence Squadron, the commander of the 1st Division of the 1st Air Force Regiment in Warsaw, and from July 1923, already as lieutenant colonel, a deputy commander of the 1st Air Force Regiment. In 1925, after completing his pilot's course, he became commander of the Main Airport in Mokotów Field in Warsaw. In 1928, he was moved to the Aeronautics Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs, and one year later he was retired due to health reasons. He then worked for a short while in the Państwowe Zakłady Inżynierii (State Engineering Works). For his merits in the Polish-Bolshevik war, Loria was awarded the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari, Class V, No. 3055. He was also awarded the Cross of Valour twice and, posthumously, the Cross of Independence.
When outlining Leon Loria's biography, we must not forget his huge passion – the mountains. Leon was a passionate skier and Tatra mountaineer. In the early 20th century, he was involved in winter and summer mountaineering. Together with Mariusz Zaruski, Henryk Bednarski, Józef Lesiecki and Stanisław Zdyb, he mapped out routes leading to Mnich, Zadni Mnich, Mały Kozi Wierch, Zamarła Turnia, Kozia Przełęcz, Wielka Buczynowa Turnia and a number of other peaks.
The 1910 summer-time crossing of the southern face of Zamarła Turnia, a route which until then had been regarded as impassable, was a unique achievement of Loria’s team. In the winter of 1911, the same group managed to pass the northern face of Zamarła Turnia.
In 1909, Loria was involved in the creation of the Tatra Mountains Rescue Service. He became one of the founding members of the Service that was headed by Mariusz Zaruski. He was active in the Tatra Society Skiing Section (SN TT, Polish Tatra Society after 1920). Loria frequently visited shelters in the Tatra Mountains. The no-longer existing shelter in Hala Pyszna had a so-called Loria Chamber. The place was a “skiing Eldorado”, a place particularly liked by SN TT activists. There have been attempts to restore the chamber in the Hala na Ornaku shelter in order to bring back the atmosphere of the historical site.
Leon Loria died in Zakopane. He was buried at the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw.
- Szachówna M., “Nieco o Tatrzańskiem Pogotowiu Ratunkowem”, Trybuna Akademicka 1, 1927, p. 36.
- Szatkowski W., Leon Loria – narciarz, prawnik i lotnik, https://z-ne.pl/s,doc,25740,1,1722,leon_loria_-_narciarz,_prawnik_i_lotnik.html [Accessed 9 Oct 2017].
- Szpilka K., Mazik P., Krupa M., Nieobecne miasto. Przewodnik po nieznanym Zakopanem, Wołowiec, 2016.
- Woszczyński B., “Leon Loria”, [in] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 17, Wrocław, 1972.