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“Notebook of poems from Auschwitz”. The museum's Polish-English-Swedish publication presented in Sweden.


During the Gothenburg Book Fair, the most prominent literary event in Scandinavia, the Museum showcased an exceptional trilingual publication: “Notebook of poems from Auschwitz”.

The Polish-English-Swedish publication includes a reprint of a valuable document, a notebook containing a dozen or so poems written by female prisoners of Auschwitz II-Birkenau during their imprisonment. This particular collection was probably created in the camp hospital in late 1943 or early 1944.


The promotion was initiated by the director of the Polish Institute in Stockholm, Paweł Ruszkiewicz, who was also the originator and co-partner of the publication "Notebook with Poems from Auschwitz".

He described his first encounter with Bożena Janina Zdunek's notebook in the following way: 'I received an invitation to visit Mr Adam's residence. The moment the documents were retrieved from the cabinet, along with this notebook, will remain etched in my memory forever. We immediately decided that this should be exhibited more extensively to the world because we owe it particularly to Mr Adam's mother, the prisoners, Mr Adam, and his children.'

The book presentation was attended by Joanna Hofman, the Polish Ambassador to Sweden, and Adam Zdunek, the son of Bożena Zdunek, a survivor of Auschwitz who carried the notebook through two camps and transported it to Sweden in 1945 as part of the Swedish Red Cross campaign "White Buses".

'When my mother was rescued from the camp and arrived in Sweden, she was completely emaciated and weighed only 27 kg. The only objects she had with her were a medal with the Virgin Mary and a notebook from Auschwitz that she had miraculously saved,' Adam Zdunek recounted during the promotion.

The 32-page notebook with broad lines contains 17 camp poems written in various hand writings. Among others, these include works by Krystyna Żywulska (actually Sonia Landau): "March", "Appeal", "Letter to Mother", "Dance", and "Mum, be, healthy". These are the poems that constitute the canon of Auschwitz camp poetry.

'It is vital to consider both the circumstances of the notebook's creation and rescue. These poems are fundamentally a testimony to the struggle to maintain human dignity in the inhuman world created by the SS system. On the other hand, preserving the notebook is a demonstration of determination and tremendous courage, said Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, representing the Museum at the Fair.

At one of the meetings, fragments of poems in Polish, Swedish and English were interpreted by actresses Małgorzata Pieczyńska and Sara Sommerfeldt, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.

'The book we published received much attention at the Swedish book fair and generated undying excitement because of the subject matter. Its meticulous editing was also appreciated, which is particularly important to me because the level of book publishing in Scandinavia is high, said Jadwiga Pinderska-Lech, head of the Museum Publishing House.

Bożena Janina Zdunek (née Musiewicz) was born on 29 June 1918 in the village of Siwki in Volhynia. She was educated at the famous Krzemieniec Secondary School, and in the 1930s, after moving with her parents to Warsaw, she continued her education at the Queen Jadwiga Secondary School. During the German occupation, she became involved in the resistance movement.

She was arrested in 1943 and deported on 22 June the same year to KL Auschwitz. She remained in the camp until the end of August 1944, when she was transferred to KL Ravensbrück. At the end of April 1945, following a campaign by the Swedish Red Cross, she was one of several female prisoners who were released and transported to Sweden. In 1948, she married Jerzy January Zdunek, a Warsaw insurgent and former prisoner of the Stutthof camp.

Bożena Janina Zdunek was a member of the Association of Polish Veterans in Sweden and financially supported many Polish and Catholic institutions in Sweden and other countries. She was also very active in the field of education. She frequently met with Swedish young people to talk about the concentration camps and the tragedy of World War II. She passed on 2 June 2015 in Karlskrona.