Oral history
History witnesses

Lena Choynowska

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Józef Markiewicz
Józef Markiewicz
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
5th August 2019
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
Holocaust Survivors

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Lena Choynowska was born in Lviv as Lena Alter. Her father, Rachmiel, died in Bełżec; her mother, Gustawa, and her older sister survived the war. Before the war, the family lived on Łyczakowska Street in Lviv, and from 1941 on Słoneczna Street in the ghetto. Lena Choynowska and her mother left the ghetto during its liquidation (her sister got out earlier) and until the end of the war she lived and worked in the village of Wiśniewo for a peasant Andzia and her family. They accepted her because her mother agreed to go to work in Germany for Andzia; however, for health reasons she was not sent there and worked as a maid in Warsaw. In the winter of 1945, she took Lena and her sister to Warsaw, but in April, because of their poor economic situation, Lena Choynowska was sent to a Jewish orphanage in Zatrzebie. Her sister got a job in Katowice and Lena Choynowska started school there. She studied journalism at the University of Warsaw, and after graduation worked in the radio in Katowice; she got married twice, she has a daughter Kasia. Her sister emigrated to Australia, and when she had a baby, her mother also moved there. Lena Choynowska visited her sister in Australia for the first time in 1964. She is currently retired and is involved in the activities of the Association of Children of the Holocaust.


Recording circumstances description

The interview was recorded at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

Recording summary

  1. The beginning of the war; learning to read and write; 00:01:11
  2. Photo of the interviewee’s sister; 00:02:21
  3. Leaving the ghetto; 00:04:00
  4. The help of Eugenia Węgrzyn and the escape of the interviewee’s sister from the ghetto; 00:04:55
  5. Meeting a Gestapo officer at the railway station; return to the ghetto; 00:06:18
  6. Liquidation of the ghetto; leaving the ghetto by the interviewee and her mother; help of a watchman; 00:10:26
  7. Handing over the interviewee to the care of a florist and her mother's departure from Lviv; 00:13:27
  8. The interviewee is thrown out by the florist; shelter with Eugenia’s family; stay in Warsaw; 00:15:22
  9. Stay in the village of Wiśniewo; 00:18:30
  10. The interviewee’s mother’s work in Warsaw; 00:21:38
  11. Meeting mother in Warsaw; 00:22:30
  12. The mother’s arrival in Wiśniewo; finding the interviewee’s sister; 00:23:54
  13. Stay at the orphanage in Zatrzebie; 00:26:31
  14. Moving to Katowice; the interviewee’s documents; 00:28:06
  15. Friendship with Nata Zygielman; Jewish club and choir in Katowice; 00:32:31
  16. Studies in Warsaw; 00:35:50
  17. Working in the radio in Katowice; the expulsion of Nata from Film School and her future fate; 00:38:55
  18. Contact with Nata and her arrival in Poland; Nata’s death; 00:41:16
  19. Contact with her sister in Australia; the interviewee’s family; 00:42:56
  20. The emigration of the interviewee’s sister and mother to Australia; 00:46:30
  21. The interviewee’s marriage; her visit in Australia; 00:48:21
  22. Decision to stay in Poland; rectification of personal data; 00:51:00
  23. Work in the radio; March 1968; 00:52:34
  24. Retired life; 00:55:54
  25. The interviewee’s family house; information on the interviewee’s family; 00:57:45
  26. The fate of the interviewee’s father; 01:02:17
  27. The fate of the interviewee’s grandparents; 01:07:41
  28. The memory of the interviewee’s mother from the ghetto; 01:08:25
  29. Claims for compensation for property left behind in Lviv: names of members of the interviewee's family, archival searches; 01:09:11
  30. Moving to the ghetto; memories of the ghetto: hiding place, round-up; 01:18:23
  31. Getting out of the ghetto to get false documents; camouflage techniques of the interviewee’s mother; 01:24:12
  32. Living conditions in the ghetto; living in barracks; hiding in a dug-out hole; 01:27:04
  33. The interviewee's sister leaves for Germany; the post-war fate of Eugenia; the fate of the Gestapo officer from the railway station in Warsaw and his daughter; 01:30:16
  34. A break with Jewish identity after the war; 01:37:11
  35. The interviewee’s involvement in the Children of the Holocaust Association; 01:38:34
  36. Actions in the Lviv ghetto; 01:45:47
  37. Contact with the Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ); Meeting of the Children of the Holocaust in Jerusalem; 01:48:25
  38. The influence of the Holocaust experience on the life of the interviewee; 01:51:22
  39. Attitude towards Jewish religion and tradition; 01:53:57
  40. Visits in Lviv after the war; 01:58:19
  41. Reflections on war experiences; 02:01:08
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