Oral history
History witnesses

Halina Wasilewicz

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Piotr Kowalik
Grzegorz Liwiński
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
16th October 2017
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN
Jews in Poland


Emigration, Yiddish language, Communist Poland, Jewish identity.

Interlocutor biogram

Halina Wasilewicz was born in 1946 in Częstochowa. Her father Jankiel was born in Kuźnica Stara near Częstochowa; her mother Brandla came from Łódź, from the Łódź ghetto she was taken to the camp of the Hasag concern, where she survived until the liberation in 1945.

Halina Wasilewicz grew up in a Jewish community of post-war Częstochowa, her parents spoke Yiddish at home, she experienced several waves of emigration during which the majority of her Jewish friends left the city. “My youth has left,” she says, comparing her nostalgia to her father missing the destroyed Jewish world of pre-war Częstochowa.

Since early childhood, Halina Wasilewicz has been involved in the activity of the Częstochowa branch of the Social-Cultural Society of Jews (TSKŻ) in Poland. She declares: “I’m a child of TSKŻ,” stressing her personal connection with the organisation. In 1974, as a consequence of the political climate in the People’s Republic of Poland, local authorities try to disband the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ. This is when Halina Wasilewicz takes over the function of the branch secretary on a volunteer basis, aware of the significance of the club for the small Jewish community of the city. She is currently the chairman of the branch.

Recording summary

  1. Description of the interviewee’s parents and their families, 0:01:00
  2. The story of the interviewee’s mother: stay in the Łódź ghetto, the labour camp of the Hasag concern in Częstochowa. Memories of the interviewee’s mother about being freed from the camp; the building at 19 Garibaldiego Street, where Częstochowa Jews stayed after being freed from Hasag, 0:03:00
  3. The story of how the interviewee’s parents met, 0:10:00
  4. The interviewee’s father being aware of his Jewish identity: rejecting the offer to change his name Jankiel at the Częstochowa Registry Office, 0:12:00
  5. Częstochowa Jewish community of the post-war period: school of the Children’s Friends Association (TPD) at Kopernika Street (the pre-war Axer middle school), 0:13:25
  6. The school period in the interviewee’s memories: schoolmates; encountering the term “kike” for the first time; classes at the Social-Cultural Society of Jews (TSKŻ) in Poland, 0:15:00
  7. How the events of March 1968 affected the Jewish community of Częstochowa; the March events in the memories of the interviewee: “My whole youth has left;”, 0:19:30
  8. Attempts to close down the Częstochowa branch of the Social-Cultural Society of Jews (TSKŻ) (October 1974). Reason: lack of members; the interviewee starting to manage the TSKŻ branch on a volunteer basis, 0:23:00
  9. Daily life in the post-war period: preserving Jewish traditions and customs; observing the kosher principle, 0:25:00
  10. Identity-related choices of the interviewee’s son: upbringing; getting used to his own identity; bar mitzvah in Kishinev; the Lauder school in Warsaw, 0:29:00
  11. Specificity of the Jewish community in Częstochowa – generational continuity, 0:33:00
  12. The seat of the Social-Cultural Society of Jews (TSKŻ) in Częstochowa at 36 Jasnogórska Street, 0:36:00
  13. The activity of TSKŻ in Częstochowa: special interest clubs; the book collection; TSKŻ activists; organising the celebrations of liberation of Częstochowa, 0:37:00
  14. Emigration and immigration: the “October” emigration from Częstochowa; repatriates from the east, 0:41:30
  15. Founding of the Children and Youth Club at the TSKŻ, 0:49:00
  16. The interviewee’s failed attempts to go to Israel, 0:46:00
  17. The significance of TSKŻ to the older generation of Jews in Częstochowa, 0:48:00
  18. Nationalisation of the building at 36 Jasnogórska Street – the seat of the TSKŻ; the TSKŻ moving to a two-room flat; the club’s equipment, 0:50:00
  19. The interviewee’s thoughts on the mission of the Social-Cultural Society of Jews (TSKŻ) in the past, 0:54:30
  20. Reunions of Częstochowa Jews and their descendants: the story of the initiative; the exhibition “Częstochowa Jews. Coexistence, Holocaust, Memory;”, 0:57:00
  21. Interest in the Jewish history of Częstochowa around the world – the interviewee’s thoughts, 0:59:00
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