Halina Birenbaum

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Halina Birenbaum
2019.05.30. Halina Birenbaum Fot Mariusz Kubik 01.JPG
Halina Birenbaum (2019)
Born15 September 1929
NationalityPolish, Israeli
Known forwriting, poetry
Notable work
Hope is the last to die (Nadzieja umiera ostatnia)
AwardsOfficer of Polonia Restituta

Halina Birenbaum (Hebrew: הלינה בירנבאום; Warsaw, 15 September 1929) is a Holocaust survivor, writer, poet, translator and activist.


Born in Warsaw, to Jakub Grynsztajn and Pola formerly Perl, née Kijewska, she was the youngest of three and the only daughter.[1] After the occupation of Poland by Germany, the family's home was in area that was part of the Warsaw Ghetto.[2][3] After its destruction in July 1943 they were briefly transferred to Majdanek, then on to Auschwitz. In January 1945 she was taken to Ravensbrück and in February on to Neustadt-Glewe, from where she was liberated by the Red Army in May 1945.[4] Her mother was murdered in Majdanek while her father perished in the Treblinka extermination camp.

In 1947, due to antisemitism, she emigrated to Israel, where she married Chaim Birenbaum and had two sons. Until the end of 1950 she worked on a kibbutz. She spends much of her time talking about her early experiences with Israeli, Polish and German youth.


Life and death during the German occupation of Poland and the martyrdom of Polish Jewry in ghettos and extermination camps are the salient themes of her prose and poetic output. Her works, which are partly written in Polish and partly in Hebrew, have been translated into many languages, including, English French, German, Japanese and Spanish.


  • In March 2001 she was named Person of Reconciliation 2001 by the Polish Council of Christians and Jews.
  • In 2015 she was recognized for her services to Warsaw, Zasłużony dla Warszawy[5].
  • In 2018 she was granted the "Freedom of the City of Warsaw", Honorowi Obywatele miasta stołecznego Warszawy[6].



  • Hope is the last to die (Nadzieja umiera ostatnia), 1967. Translated into English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Hebrew
  • Return to ancestors' land (Powrót do ziemi praojców), 1991
  • Scream for remembrance (Wołanie o pamięć)
  • It's not the rain, it's people (To nie deszcz, to ludzie), 2019


  • Even when I laugh (Nawet gdy się śmieję)
  • Not about flowers (Nie o Kwiatach)
  • Words cannot convey (Jak można w słowach)


  1. ^ Halina Birenbaum: Ma jeunesse et le siècle de l’Holocauste, accessed 23 January 2017.
  2. ^ P. Cywiński, Marsz Śmierci w pamięci ewakuowanych więźniów Auschwitz, Oświęcim 2016, p. 41. in Polish
  3. ^ "Na dnie piekła. Z Haliną Birenbaum, polsko-izraelską pisarką, poetką rozmawia Monika Tutak-Goll". Wysokie Obcasy (dodatek do Gazety Wyborczej) (in Polish): 8. 21 April 2018.
  4. ^ Halina Birenbaum: Das Leben als Hoffnung, accessed 23 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Halina Birenbaum wyróżniona tytułem "Zasłużony dla Warszawy"" (in Polish). onet.pl. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Uchwała nr LXII/1663/2018 z 01-03-2018 w sprawie nadania Honorowego Obywatelstwa Miasta Stołecznego Warszawy" (in Polish). Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej m.st. Warszawy. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.

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