Celina Widawski

Title: The sun will shine tomorrow
Author: Celina Widawski
Publisher: Self Published
Place of publication: Melbourne
Year of Publication: 1993
Location of Book: Rare Books Collection, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University Clayton Campus
Cities/town/camps: Poland: Poznan, Warsaw, Lodz, Wygoda, Tomashow, Mazowiecki, Drzewica
Note: those cities/towns/camps underlined are those which are most central to the narrative

Celina Widawski gives a personal account of her extraordinary experiences surviving the Nazi Holocaust in Poland and then forging a new life in Australia. Some 20 pages introduce the reader to her parents and describe her pre-war childhood in Lodz and Poznan; 60 pages deal with life under-German occupation; 10 pages with life in Poland from Russian liberation to 1948; some 5 pages describe the journey to Australia which is then followed by a brief discussion of the author’s life in Australia. The last 10 pages describe Celina Widawski’s return to Poland in March 1988. Widawski’s autobiography was written late in life, some 45 years after the Holocaust.

The first section of the book deals with life in pre-war Poland. Widawski, born in 1930, presents a detailed description of her parents. Her father, Josef Wald, was a successful businessman. Her mother, Genia Boskes, worked in an office. They led a comfortable life in Lodz and then later in Poznan where they had a beautifully furnished apartment and a maid. After German occupation in 1939, Germans confiscated the family business and took their apartment in Poznan. The family moved back to Lodz for a short period of time as a ghetto was established for the Jews of Lodz in 1940. One day prior to the establishment of the ghetto, the family left for Tomashow Mazowiecki, where they were later placed in a near by ghetto.

In the beginning of 1942, the family was sent to a ghetto in Drzewica where the Germans paid unexpected visits and killed many Jews. The night before the evacuation of their ghetto, the family escaped to a near by Polish farm where they hid for a few days. The family then later hid at Mrs Makowska’s apartment. After a few days Celina Widawski, her mother and younger sister left for Warsaw, where they were to meet their father. Her father stayed behind to clean up the ghetto, however, he was never to see his family again as he was killed by the Nazis. From then on the family rented out rooms in Polish houses for short periods as the Poles became suspicious of them. Poles were offered rewards by the Nazis if they turned in Jews, hence the family had to disguise their identity. Sometimes, people recognised them as being Jewish so they had to pay ransom and escape. The family subsequently moved to Wygoda. There they rented a room in a Polish house where they lived in primitive conditions. They never disclosed their identity, yet people still got suspicious and ordered the Nazis to come into their home. Their fluent German speaking mother made the Nazis believe that they were of German descent. As Celina had a darker complexion, she constantly had to hide and keep out of sight.

Throughout this book there is great attention to detail. Widawski describes their hideaways and each location with great precision. Similarly, Widawski details her experiences in hiding on the Aryan side of Warsaw and in remote rural locations. Celina Widawski’s account is warmly and intimately recorded, evocative and highly accessible to the reader.