The state of Józef Piłsudski’s health deteriorated in the early 1930s and, in an attempt to counteract this, arrangements were made for Marshal Piłsudski to make trips to foreign countries with suitable climates. On 1 March 1932 Piłsudski departed for a vacation in Egypt and stayed in Helwan in Villa Jola which belonged to Bohdan Rychter, an expert on the Far East. Piłsudski read a lot (including Egyptian newspapers in both French and English), played chess and went for walks reaping the benefits of Egypt’s spring weather. He made a trip to the Faiyum Oasis and visited the pyramids. He met King Fuad I who put on a banquet for his Polish guest. On 19 March – Piłsudski’s name day – a large number of telegrams and letters arrived from Poland.


Feeling refreshed after a month’s rest in Egypt the Marshal returned home arriving in Warsaw on 22 April. It was his last trip abroad. In November 1943 during the Second World War while units of the Polish Armed Forces were stationed in Egypt a commemorative plaque was set into the wall of the Villa Jola and unveiled by General Władysław Anders. The plaque depicted a Rifleman’s eagle above two crossed maces and underneath them an inscription in Polish, English and Arabic, ‘Józef Piłsudski the First Marshal of Poland stayed here.’ Unfortunately there are no traces left of the villa or its garden now.