Janina Bauman


Janina Bauman was born in Warsaw, 18th of August 1926. Her assimilated, non-religious family was a part of Warsaw intelligentsia. Her father Szymon Lewinson was an urologist, like many of the members of the family. Shortly before the war outbreak Janina and her family went to the summerhouse in Konstancin. In September they came back to Warsaw. 


Janina was thirteen, when, in September 1939 the WWII started.  Her father as a reserve officer was conscripted into the Polish Army. He was interned by the Soviet Army along with other Polish officers, detained in Kozielsk camp, and then killed in Katyń with his brother.


She lived in the Warsaw ghetto, where she moved from one place to another many times escaping German round-ups.


She avoided deportation to Treblinka during the Great Aktion, and eventually, she ran away from the ghetto with her mother only in 1944, was hiding in Warsaw and in the surrounding towns. Many times she had to change the hiding place as a victims of blackmailers. In autumn 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising, Janina ill with tuberculosis, was hiding in a basement in a city center. After the uprising, along with other Warsaw inhabitants, she was forced to leave the city in cattle trains. She hid in a village near Cracow, with her mother, sister, and Auntie Mania – their Polish housekeeper who helped the family during the war.

1945 and Postwar Experiences

In April 1945, she came back to Warsaw and got her degree in journalism. She met Zygmunt Bauman, her future husband, at Warsaw University. She joined PZPR (PUWP) and worked in documentary film studios. She had 3 daughters. In 1968, during the antisemitic campaign, her husband was persecuted and fired from Warsaw University along with 6 other researchers. It was suggested to Janina that she leave her job, what she did. The family decided to emigrate: first to Israel, where Janina’s sister Zosia had been living, and, after three years, to Leeds in UK. There, Janina worked as a school librarian and her husband was a professor and dean of the Sociology faculty in Leeds University. Janina was a writer; she wrote short stories based on her war memories. She died the 29 December 2009 in Leeds, UK.