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  • Virago

Beyond These Walls: Escaping the Warsaw Ghetto - A Young Girl's Story

Janina Bauman

8 Reviews

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Virago Modern Classics, Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

* First published in 1986 as WINTER IN THE MORNING, this edition has been updated and expanded by the author.

*'A profound and moving book which everyone ought to read' Alan Sillitoe, New Statesman

Janina Bauman was a year older than Anne Frank when the Second World War began but, unlike The Diary of Anne Frank, this is a story of survival. When Hitler's decree forced her family into the Warsaw Ghetto, Janina, an intelligent, lively girl, suddenly found herself in a cramped flat, hiding with other Jewish families. At first even curfews and the casual cruelty meted out by the German occupiers could not dim her passion for books, boys and romance. Then came the raids, and Janina, with her sister and mother, had to keep on the move, hiding in the ruins of the ghetto to avoid being one of thousands rounded up every day and deported to the camps. Their escape to the 'Aryan' side was followed by two years in hiding, taking shelter with those willing to help them and living in constant fear of betrayal. Told through her teenage diaries, giving her story a rare immediacy, this is the extraordinary tale of a passionate young woman's courage and survival.

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Praise for Beyond These Walls: Escaping the Warsaw Ghetto - A Young Girl's Story

  • I found it absorbing . . . testaments such as Janina Bauman's are important and should never be allowed to fade away. The drama of Anne Frank is rightly always before us but the equally vital stories of those who suffered but survived need to be listened to with just as much attention - Margaret Forster

  • A profound and moving book which everyone ought to read - Alan Sillitoe, New Statesman

  • 'A magnificent testimony to the people of the ghetto ... a profound autobiographical meditation - NEW SOCIETY

  • A deeply moving but surprisingly unselfpitying book, a real pleasure to read - TES

  • I found it absorbing . . . testaments such as Janina Bauman's are important and should never be allowed to fade away. The drama of Anne Frank is rightly always before us but the equally vital stories of those who suffered but survived need to be listened to with just as much attention - Margaret Forster

  • A profound and moving book which everyone ought to read - Alan Sillitoe, New Statesman

  • 'A magnificent testimony to the people of the ghetto ... a profound autobiographical meditation - NEW SOCIETY

  • A deeply moving but surprisingly unselfpitying book, a real pleasure to read - TES

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Janina Bauman

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

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