Zofia Baniceka

We began by interviewing Zofia Baniecka. She was a Polish atheist who worked in the resistance in Warsaw. She hid guns in one part of her apartment and Jews in another. And when she was warned of a raid, she moved the Jews to another person’s flat.

Gay Block comments about the portraits:

“You must know that Zofia smoked like this for the entire three hours of the interview. She lit one cigarette from another, and it would have been unthinkable to photograph her in any other way. I love to see people exactly as they are, so the portraits I make are always straightforward, and usually tell which detail about that person attracted me the most. I didn’t have to ask her to do this, I just snapped a picture when she did. I saw her as strong and independent. She answered our questions exactly as you’d expect a woman who smoked this way would. Even though she speaks only Polish, and the Jewish woman she saved translated for us, we developed a connection which was to be repeated in the next one hundred interviews.”

Zofia Baniceka
Zofia and her mother hid fifty Jews during the war as well as guns and ammunition. She was arrested by the Russians for being a Polish patriot. Friends from the underground helped her escape.