Celinska Zofia

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Story of Rescue - Celinska Zofia

“50% were Jewish, 50% were not, and we had good relations in Junior High School. There was none of what you can see today.”

Although she is reluctant to speak of the past, Zofia Celińska clearly remembers her schoolmates from Warsaw Junior High School, and has given detailed accounts of their experiences, family and war-time stories. One of her schoolmates, Zofia Lewin, asked her family – the Lipskis – to provide shelter for her aunt and uncle, the Kohans. Zofia Lewin herself had already been hiding with the Lipskis for several months, and the girls attended underground classes together.

The Kohans stayed with the Lipski family for about a year. Roman Lipski, Zofia’s father, prepared a hiding place for them, to be used in the event of a search. Tipped off by a neighbor , ,  about a planned German raid, the Lipskis found another place for the couple – an apartment in Milanówek near Warsaw.

“Rachela Kohan spoke [Polish] poorly. It was easier to hide the Jews who had assimilated. The ones who had not assimilated, they had it very hard, and the risk was great.” 

Today, Mrs Celińska describes the life that Jews had during the war as, ‘walking on a tightrope’. A twenty-year-old girl at the time, she distributed the Home Army’s Information Bulletin, worked to provide for her parents and two siblings, and apart from helping the permanent residents, also helped another school friend, Ola Zweibaum.

“She’d come to us, she would wash up, sometimes we’d give her some underwear, and then she’d be off”

Ola came from a family who had assimilated and she had what was called ‘good looks’. She managed to get her family out of the ghetto. They survived.

Władysław Kohan died of a heart attack during the war. Rachela Kohan, having learned of the evacuation of Warsaw, committed suicide. Zofia Lewin survived. She is co-author with Władysław Bartoszewski of one of the most important books about Holocaust rescuers in Poland “Righteous Among the Nations. How Poles Helped Jews 1939 – 1945”.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area


  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, 2000, YV-117
    Helena Balicka- Kozłowska's account 28.06.2000
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, 2523, YV-340
    Zofia Celińska'a account
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Biczysko Julia, Interview with Zofia Celińska, 19.02.2009