Jerzy Kosinski

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Jerzy Kosiński, born Józef Lewinkopf (June 14, 1933 – May 3, 1991) was an award-winning Polish-American novelist, and two-time President of the American Chapter of P.E.N.

He was known for various novels, among them The Painted Bird (1965) and Being There (1971). Being There was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1979.[1]


Early life, teaching, and marriage

Kosiński, who was Jewish, was born Józef Lewinkopf in Łódź, Poland. As a child during World War II, he lived in central Poland under a false identity his father gave him to use, Jerzy Kosiński. A Roman Catholic priest issued him a forged baptismal certificate. The Kosiński family survived the Holocaust thanks to local villagers who offered assistance to Jewish Poles, often at great personal risk (the penalty for assisting Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland was death). Kosiński's father received help not only from Polish town leaders and churchmen, but also from individuals such as Marianna Pasiowa, a member of the Polish underground network helping Jews evade capture. The family lived openly in Dąbrowa Rzeczycka near Stalowa Wola, and attended church in nearby Wola Rzeczycka, obtaining support from villagers in Kępa Rzeczycka. They were sheltered temporarily by a Catholic family in Rzeczyca Okrągła. The young Jerzy even served as an altar boy in a local church.[2]

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