Roman Antoni Palester was born on 28 December 1907 in Śniatyń (in the Podolia region), a Galician town that belonged to the Habsburg monarchy at the time. He was the son of Henryk Józef Palester (1869-1944), a doctor, and Matylda Eugenia née Memlauer (1978-1919). He spent his childhood in Turka on the river Styj; he was educated at home by his mother and in spring 1914 he began piano lessons. His carefree childhood ended with the outbreak of the First World War. His father was called up and sent to the front, while the young Roman and his mother were evacuated and initially went to Vienna together with other refugees. In the early spring of 1915 the Palesters moved to Teplice in the north-western Bohemia, at the foot of the Ore Mountains. There Roman Palester attended a German school and took piano lessons. At that time the Austrian authorities appointed his father district doctor in Jędrzejów to succeed Feliks Przypkowski (1872-1951). This was when the friendship between the Palester and Przypkowski families began. Roman used to spend his holidays in Jędrzejów, where he met Doctor Przypkowski’s children: Tadeusz (1905-1977), who went on to become a well-known art historian and bibliophile, and Zofia (b. 1909).