Marion Kozak or Marion Kozak Miliband (born 1934 as Dobra Jenta Kozak, also known as Maria Kozak) is a Polish-born British activist. She emigrated to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. In 1961 she married Ralph Miliband (1924–1994) and their two sons, David Miliband and Ed Miliband, have risen to prominence in modern-day British politics.
Birth and early life
Kozak was the daughter of wealthy Jewish parents, Bronislawa (Landau) and Dawid Kozak, in the Polish town of Częstochowa, with a Jewish population of about 40,000 in 1939, or a quarter of its population. In 1939 when the Germans took control, the Kozaks’ factory was commandeered and transformed into a munitions plant. In the town, an estimated 2,000 Jews were murdered by Germans on the spot and another 40,000 transported to the gas chambers at the Treblinka extermination camp. At some point Polish nuns in a convent took the Kozaks in and hid them from the Germans. Marion refuses to divulge where or when this took place. She also credits the "kindness and generosity of acquaintances in Warsaw" for her survival. She was also known as Maria. In the only official version of events, a biography of her husband Ralph Miliband written by a family friend, Michael Newman states that: "For the rest of the war Marion, Hadassa and their mother had been in constant danger and owed their lives to several brave people, Jewish and non-Jewish, many of whom were themselves killed."
In 2009 David Miliband, in his capacity as the Foreign Secretary, expressed his thanks to the Polish people for having saved his mother during the Holocaust. During an official visit to Poland he said: "My mother was born here, her life was saved by those who risked theirs [by] sheltering her from Nazi oppression". Newspaper reports stated that "Miliband’s Polish Jewish mother, Marion Kozak, is from Czestochowa in southern Poland and emigrated in the 1950s" and that "his paternal grandparents were also Polish Jews".
Marriage to Ralph Miliband
According to The Guardian, Marion Kozak had once been a student (at the London School of Economics) of the Marxist scholar Ralph Miliband. They married in 1961. Her background and politics were similar to his, and she had a comparable, though less high-profile, career as an activist and academic. Yet she was more outgoing and had broader interests. In 1965 their son David Miliband was born. Kozak hosted relatives, left-wing writers, dissidents such as Joe Slovo of the South African Communist Party, academics from abroad, the occasional politician. Sons David and Ed Miliband (born 1969) were encouraged to join in.
Kozak has been described in London's The Jewish Chronicle as a long-standing human rights campaigner and an early activist for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (in parallel with being described as keeping "a low profile" and being "a very private woman"). Kozak is also described as being "a long-standing supporter of left-wing pro-Palestinian organisations" and is a signatory of the founding statements of both Jews for Justice for Palestinians (founded 2002) and a supporter of Independent Jewish Voices (launched 2007). Long-time friend Tariq Ali wrote in The Guardian in 2015 that Kozak was a "strong-minded socialist and feminist"
Influence and stance towards her sons
A BBC report described Kozak as a "campaigning mother" who, unlike her husband Ralph, remained loyal to the British Labour Party. However, she is thought to have been a greater influence on the political development of her sons. "There's no doubt that Ed got a lot of his drive from Marion and a lot of his feel for nitty-gritty grassroots politics from Marion too," according to Dr. Marc Stears, politics fellow at the University of Oxford. Friends have stated that the contest between the brothers has been a huge "strain" for their mother and that she has even told people it would have been much easier had they simply become academics rather than politicians. She was reported as "maintain[ing] a low profile" in 2010 when Ed Miliband defeated David Miliband to become leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom.
As an example, the Daily Mail reported that during the Labour Party contest for party leader in 2010 between her sons, she would miss the climax of the contest because she could not bear to watch the result, and would not be present for an announcement.
- History of the Jews in the United Kingdom
- History of the Jews in Poland
- List of Holocaust survivors
- Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust
- The Holocaust in Poland
- Andy Beckett (27 February 2004). "In the house of the rising sons". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 July 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Robert Mendick; Matthew Day (16 May 2010). "The miraculous escape of Marion Miliband". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- The Sitkowski Family Retrieved 5 October 2014
- Robert Mendick, Matthew Day (16 May 2010). "The miraculous escape of Marion Miliband". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Tchorek, Kamil (23 June 2009). "David Miliband Thanks the Poles for Saving his Jewish Mother from Nazi Oppression". Daily Mail (Mail Online). Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Kamil Tchorek (24 June 2009). "David Miliband visits family grave in Poland". The Times (London). Retrieved 28 June 2009.
- Marcus Dysch (28 September 2010). "Ed Miliband's mum Marion Kozak on Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Brian Wheeler (28 September 2010). "The Ed Miliband Story". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 June 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Daily Mail Reporter (25 September 2010). "Milibands arrive to hear their fate as Labour leadership result looms". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- "Ed Miliband’s conference speech – the transcript". Labour List. Retrieved 2 October 2012.