Krystyna's Holocaust story is re-told

The traumatic tale of how a young woman survived the Nazi invasion of Poland, including being taken to a concentration camp has been told in new book.

Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 30th January 2017, 4:03 pm
Krystyna and husband Alfonso

Krystyna Porsz – who now lives in Peterborough – was just 18 years old and living in Warsaw when Germany invaded Poland.

Born Dorca Szafir, to survive the horrendous events that followed Krystyna changed her identify, pretending to be a Polish Catholic instead of Jewish, and choosing a new name that she kept even after the war ended.

The memoir Being Krystyna tells the story in her own words of how she miraculously survived the Nazi invasion, including being arrested and imprisoned as well as later taken to a concentration camp.

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Sadly, most of her family didn’t make it and the book also tells how others perished.

In 1947 she married Alfons Porsz and they came to England, settling in Peterborough where they raised their family.

Her son, Chris Porsz, is a well-known city photographer whose weekly Peterborough Telegraph column – Paramedic Paparrazzo – has been a popular feature of the paper for many years.

Krystyna worked at the Embassy Theatre for 30 years and now, aged 95, is a resident at Lavender House Care Home.


Today (January 26) is Holocaust Memorial Day, and author Carol Browne, who lives in Cambridgeshire said it was important for Krystyna’s story to be remembered.

She said: “It was a big responsibility to write Krystyna’s story, and, as I usually write fiction, I wasn’t sure I could do it.

“But I felt that it is a story that needs to be told. As the years go by there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors left, so recording their stories and making sure future generations know the reality of what happens when hatred and prejudice take over, is so very important. Getting to know Krystyna and the enormity of what she went through really does bring it home what horrendous experiences happened to ordinary people.

“We must never forget what this brave lady and so many others went through and we should make sure it never happens again.”

The narrator in the memoir is based on a real life person, Agnieszka Coutinho who moved to Peterborough from Poland in 2005.

Agnieszka who now works for the NHS said: “The story was written in a very creative and extraordinary way, the contrast between a modern Polish woman and an older one who survived World War II is intriguing. I came here on a gap year, but after just a few months in England my life changed enormously.

“I feel that this country gives me so many opportunities to develop myself, to choose a job I’d like to do rather than do something I don’t... The courses, workshops, events, and the opportunities to learn about ourselves and the world are endless here.”

Being Krystyna is published by Dilliebooks as an ebook for Kindle costing £1.89. For details, visit