Oral history
History witnesses

Martha Penzner

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Józef Markiewicz
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
11th July 2017
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
The Decendents of Polish Jews Around the World

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Martha Penzner was born in the United States as the daughter of Stela née Sławień and Wiktor Penzner. Her mother came from Otwock, where mother’s family ran a reading room and a library. Her father came from an affluent family from Krakow. When the war broke out, he was a medical student. He was arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Marta’s parents met in a camp in Austria. They decided to go to the United States. They were involved in political and social affairs. Martha Penzner is a librarian.

Recording circumstances description

The interview was carried out at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Recording summary

  1. Interwar Otwock; the importance of the reading room run by the Sławin family; 00:00:00
  2. The presence of the subject of the Holocaust in the interviewee's family; camp numbers on father's forearm; 00:07:20
  3. Parents' opposition against racism; taking home a black student; 00:09:05
  4. Family souvenirs - photos, letters; 00:12:45
  5. The importance of books; 00:14:03
  6. Parental involvement in social affairs; perceiving an analogy between the 1930s and the current times, 00:14:35
  7. The story about Abram Wilendorf; 00:17:45
  8. Parents identification with black people discriminated against in the United States; 00:19:35
  9. Meeting with Zbigniew Nosowski in Otwock; meeting with the Wilendorf family; 00:20:45
  10. Mother's letter to a Boston magazine in which she commented on the dispute over the Auschwitz monastery; 00:22:00
  11. Children promising their mother that they would support each other; caring for mother over the last six years of her life; 00:26:50
  12. Reading mother's poem; 00:30:42
  13. Mother recognizing a photo from her nursing school at an exhibition in New York; 00:32:28
  14. Reading mother's poem; 00:34:13
  15. Mother's knowledge of languages; love of Polish books; 00:40:20
  16. First visit to Poland; 00:42:55
  17. With mother visiting Otwock in 1994; confusion; 00:53:10
  18. Reading mother's poem; 00:55:50
  19. Unawareness that someone from the Sławin family survived; 00:58:40
  20. Mother’s inability to return, 01:00:30
  21. Coming with mother to the house where she lived; 01:02:20
  22. Second visit to Otwock; emotional reaction at the sight of the monument; 01:04:25
  23. Mother’s attempt to return Poland after being liberated from the camp; 01:06:18
  24. Parents having no political illusions regarding Stalin; reluctance to return to Poland; 01:09:37
  25. Political awareness of mother's family, 01:12:50
  26. Isaac Singer’s recollection of a visit to the Sławin’s reading room in Otwock; 00:13:28
  27. Poem about a monument in Otwock, 01:18:14
  28. Feeling of guilt by the survivors, the impact of trauma on further life; 01:19:20
  29. Parents getting to know each other; 01:21:33
  30. The need to give a testimony, finding a photo, 01:27:15
  31. Subsequent interviewee’s visits to Poland; 01:32:50
  32. Father’s life after the outbreak of war; 01:36:18
  33. Memory of school; meeting a school friend in custody; hearing colleague's warning; 01:40:10
  34. Father’s imprisonment in Auschwitz; cooperation with Mr. Pietrowicz; the story of Mr. Pietrowicz; 01:47:25
  35. Meeting with Pietrowicz’s family; 02:09:54
  36. Recognising mother in one of the photographs exhibited at the Jewish Historical Institute; 02:15:00
  37. Showing a photo of the mother and her twin brother; 02:17:00
  38. A message about the necessity of understanding each other and people to people solidarity; 02:20:30
In order to properly print this page, please use dedicated print button.