Janina Bauman was born Janina Lewinson in Warsaw into an assimilated, educated, well-off Jewish family of doctors. Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 put an end to an idyllic childhood and saw Janina, her sister, Zosia, and their mother incarcerated in the Warsaw ghetto, and later, after their escape, beyond its walls.
Series: Other livesPrevious | Next | Index Janina Bauman obituary (6)Tweet this (8)Lydia Bauman guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 January 2010 18.21 GMT Article history
Janina Bauman's writings about her early life were characteristically non-judgmental and free of bitterness.
My mother, Janina Bauman, who has died aged 83, was a writer who has left an indelible mark on the literature of the Holocaust. In the words of one of her many friends, she was "a truly beautiful person, who made things golden". Janina's serene demeanour and dreamy, thoughtful disposition, belied the turbulence of her early life as witness to the horrors of the Warsaw ghetto and postwar antisemitic purges in socialist Poland.
Her testament to the times, and to the enduring human spirit, came in the form of two autobiographical volumes, both published by Virago - Winter in the Morning (1986), based on diaries she kept as a young girl during the war, and A Dream of Belonging (1988) - which were republished last year in one volume as Beyond These Walls.
She was born Janina Lewinson in Warsaw into an assimilated, educated, well-off Jewish family of doctors. Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 put an end to an idyllic childhood and saw Janina, her sister, Zosia, and their mother incarcerated in the Warsaw ghetto, and later, after their escape, beyond its walls.
Dreaming of 'belonging', after enforced wartime idleness, Janina threw herself with passionate idealism into the cause of Zionism, and later into the rebuilding of socialist Poland. In March 1948, while studying journalism at the Warsaw Academy of Social Sciences, she met and found her soulmate in a 'handsome army captain', intellectual and committed communist, Zygmunt Bauman, whose proposal of marriage she accepted nine days later.
Together they raised a family and pursued their careers - Janina rapidly advancing in the Polish film industry, Zygmunt as a lecturer in sociology at Warsaw University. Disillusionment with communism following the denouncement of Stalin by Khrushchev in 1956, and the pressures of antisemitic persecution compelled the Baumans to leave Poland for Israel in 1968, three years later settling in Leeds, West Yorkshire, where Zygmunt took on the chair of sociology at the university. It was there that Janina turned to writing - her moving testimonies characteristically non-judgmental and free of bitterness.
She died in January 2009, aged 83.