Finalist for 2022 POLIN Award: Magdalena Smoczyńska

Magdalena Smoczyńska stoi przy jakimś budynku.
Magdalena Smoczyńska. Fot. M. Jaźwiecki / Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

Magdalena Smoczyńska is a psychologist and linguist, professor emeritus at the Jagiellonian University as well as at the Institute of Educational Research and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. For five years now, she has been researching the fate of approximately one hundred children who survived the Holocaust and ended up in two Jewish orphanages in Rabka and Zakopane in the summer of 1945.

These orphans’ homes, organised by psychologist Lena Kichler, had to be closed due to repeated armed attacks by members of the antisemitic underground. After the home in Rabka had been closed, thirty children were transported to Zakopane, and after a few months Lena Kichler secretly transported all the children from the orphanage in Zakopane to France. Three years later, the children were taken to Israel.

Professor Smoczyńska’s study is based on research conducted in numerous archives and databases. It involves attempts at getting in touch with those of Lena Kichler’s children who are still alive, now aged 80-95, i.e. numerous travels to Israel, the United States and France. As a result of such an extensive search, Prof. Smoczyńska has already reached and interviewed more than forty persons. She is currently working on a book titled "Lena Kichler and Her Children."