To search the full text of this finding aid, type Ctrl and F on a PC. Mac users, type Command and F. A box will appear in the browser window. To search the full document, Open All must be selected first in the Detailed Description of the Collection.

Inventory of the Tola Wilner Widawski Photographs, 1905-1957

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Slides, negatives, and digital images of Tola Wilner Widawski, a Jew from Łódź, Poland, who survived the Holocaust. Pre-and post-World War II images show Wilner with friends and family, including her husband, Michislaw Widawski, and their children. Also included are images of the Polish exit permits the family used to leave Poland for Israel in 1957.
Title: Tola Wilner Widawski photographs
Creator: Widawski, Tola Wilner, 1920-
Date(s): 1905-1957  
Extent: 0.1 linear feet
(1 folder)
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1065-020
Language of Material: Materials in Polish

Biographical Note

Tola Wilner (also known as Tolka or Teresa) was born in 1920 in Łódź, Poland. Her father, Israel Wilner, was considered well-educated for his time and worked as a courier for an attorney. Tola Wilner's mother, Ruta Nahtegal, came from a wealthy family and had an arranged marriage with Israel Wilner.

Tola Wilner and her family lived in the Łódź ghetto from 1939 until 1943, where her father died of starvation. In 1943, a Jewish policeman warned Wilner, her sister, and her mother that the Łódź ghetto was going to be liquidated. He advised them to take work at a camp outside of the ghetto, but the train they were told to take to the work camp arrived at Auschwitz instead. Wilner's mother was killed upon arrival; Wilner and her sister were sent to Birkenau. As Russian troops neared the camp late in the war, inmates were forced to evacuate. During the evacuation, Wilner and a friend were rescued by an older German couple. After the Russians liberated the area, Wilner traveled to a cousin's house in Germany before returning to Łódź where she located her sisters.

In 1947, Tola Wilner met Michislaw (Mieter) Widawski and they married a year later. Their daughter, Evelina (Eva), was born in 1949, followed in 1950 by their son, Jerry. The family moved from Poland to Israel in 1957 and immigrated to the United States in 1960. Michislaw Widawski changed his first name to Mike after he arrived in the United States.

Collection Overview

Slides, negatives, and digital images of Tola Wilner Widawski, a Jew from Łódź, Poland, who survived the Holocaust. Pre-war images show Wilner with friends and family, including her father, aunt, sister, and cousins. Other pre-war images show Wilner's husband, Michislaw Widawski, and his family, including his grandmother. Post-war images show the Widawskis with their children, Eva and Jerry. Also included are images of the Polish exit permits the family used to leave Poland for Israel in 1957.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Widawski, Tola Wilner, 1920-
    • Widawski, Michislaw, 1920-
    • Widawski family


    • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
    • World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities
    • Holocaust survivors--Poland--Łódź


    • Łódź (Poland)

    Types of Material

    • Digital images
    • Black-and-white negatives
    • Black-and-white slides

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related items in College of Charleston Special Collections include two 2005 oral history interviews with Evelyn Opper, Widawski's daughter (Mss 1035-295, Mss 1035-297). Widawski was present for the second interview and makes occasional comments.


    Negatives and slides, 1905-1957, undated   folder 1

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Tola Wilner Widawski photographs, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2005 by Evelyn Widawski Opper.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Rebecca McClure, September 2011.

    Encoded by Rebecca McClure, December 2011.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Martha McTear, January 2012.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

    Table of Contents