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Dream Of Belonging: My Years in Postwar Poland Paperback – 18 Feb 1988

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Product details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (18 Feb. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860689751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860689751
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 433,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

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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Format: Paperback
Why is this wonderful book not still in print? The story of what happened to Janina Bauman and her family after World War II, it paints a vivid picture of live in Communist Poland, and is fascinating both as an account of a turbulent period of history and as the story of a very interesting woman, and her husband (sociologist Zygmunt Bauman). Like a lot of Jews, Janina Bauman developed Zionist leanings after World War II and planned to move to Israel. But after meeting the man who was to become her husband, a committed Communist, she changed her mind and threw herself into the rebuilding of Poland. Before long, she'd found a job working as a script editor in Polish film, while her husband became a university lecturer. They had three children, and, though money was always tight, managed to build up a decent quality of life, while staying committed to the Communist party. But as the corruption within the Party grew, and as Russia (basically controlling Poland) became more hostile, life grew harder. Soon the Baumans were facing persecution because they refused to toe petty Party lines, and by the early 1960s anti-Semitism began to raise its ugly head again. Eventually the family left Poland for good. Janina Bauman's account of life in post war Poland is interspersed with her accounts of settling in England and finding a new 'way of belonging'. A beautifully written and constantly interesting book, and a wonderful expose of the horrors of Communist Poland (but also the bravery of many of the poor people working there), with some interesting insights into English life too, a moving love story and ultimately a very hopeful book, ending with the conclusion that what it really means to belong is to be loved. Perhaps Virago might consider a reprint in honour of Janina Bauman, recently deceased?
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Format: Paperback
If you love WW2 history then you will like this book. Very informative about what it was like to stuggle and survive in Poland at the time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post-war Poland as seen by a Communist, and a Jew 24 July 2001
By Philip Jolly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is autobiographical. The author is a well-educated and very perceptive Jewish lady, now living in Britain, who, at the time, lived and worked in Poland (having survived the Holocaust). She describes the main events in her personal life, such as getting married to a dashing army officer and convinced Communist (who later leaves both the military and the party); also, giving birth to, and bringing up, three daughters. The author becomes, herself, a sincere and dedicated member of the Communist Party. She becomes, in effect, a censor and member of the "red bourgeoisie", due to her role within the film production administration. Gradually, however, she realises that Socialism in post-war Poland is a misleading hall of mirrors. Worse still, a resurgence in rabid antisemitism, openly encouraged by the authorities, wrecks all her dreams of "belonging" in that country. The Zionist ideal takes over, and, together with her husband, they decide to emigrate to Israel. As much as a Jewish perspective on post-war Poland, this well and wittily written book is fascinating because it provides an insight into the beliefs and expectations of many a Communist in the 1950s and 1960s - and not only in Poland. This autobiography will tell you more about all these issues - and the nature of Soviet-style Socialism - than 1,000 learned treatises would. If you have any interest in the topics described, you should definitely read this book, which is never boring, and often illuminating.
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