Bauman, the magazine states, distinguished himself as the leader of a unit that captured a large number of underground combatants. Further, the author cites evidence that Bauman worked as an informer for the Military Intelligence from 1945 to 1948. However, the nature and extent of his collaboration remain unknown, as well as the exact circumstances under which it was terminated.
In an interview in The Guardian, Bauman confirmed that he had been a committed communist during and after World War II and had never made a secret of it. He admitted, however, that joining the military intelligence service at age 19 was a mistake even though he had a "dull" desk-job and did not remember informing on anyone.
While serving in the KBW, Bauman first studied sociology at the Warsaw Academy of Social Sciences. He went on to study philosophy at the University of Warsaw - sociology had temporarily been cancelled from the Polish curriculum as a "bourgeois" discipline -, where his teachers included Stanisław Ossowski and Julian Hochfeld.
In the KBW, Bauman had risen to the rank of major when he was suddenly dishonourably discharged in 1953, after his father approached the Israeli embassy in Warsaw with a view to emigrating to Israel. As Bauman did not share his father's Zionist tendencies and was indeed strongly anti-Zionist, his dismissal caused a severe, though temporary estrangement from his father. During the period of unemployment that followed, he completed his M.A. and in 1954 became a lecturer at the University of Warsaw, where he remained until 1968.
During a stay at the London School of Economics, where his supervisor was Robert McKenzie, he prepared a comprehensive study on the British socialist movement, his first major book. Published in Polish in 1959, a translated and revised edition appeared in English in 1972.
Bauman went on to publish other books, including Socjologia na co dzień ("Sociology for everyday life", 1964), which reached a large popular audience in Poland and later formed the foundation for the English-language text-book Thinking Sociologically (1990).
Initially, Bauman remained close to orthodox Marxist doctrine, but influenced by Antonio Gramsci and Georg Simmel, he became increasingly critical of Poland's communist government. Because of this he was never awarded a professorship even after he completed his habilitation but, after his former teacher Julian Hochfeld was made vice-director of UNESCO's Department for Social Sciences in Paris in 1962, Bauman de facto inherited Hochfeld's chair.
Faced with increasing political pressure and the anti-Semitic campaign led by Mieczysław Moczar, the Chief of the Polish Communist Secret Police, Bauman renounced his membership in the governing Polish United Workers' Party in January 1968. With the March 1968 events, the anti-Semitic campaign culminated in a purge, which drove most remaining Poles of Jewish descent out of the country, including many intellectuals who had fallen from grace with the communist government. Bauman, who had lost his chair at the University of Warsaw, was among them. Having had to give up Polish citizenship to be allowed to leave the country, he first went to Israel to teach at Tel Aviv University, before accepting a chair in sociology at the University of Leeds, where he intermittently also served as head of department. Since then, he has published almost exclusively in English, his third language, and his repute has grown exponentially. Indeed, from the late 1990s, Bauman exerted a considerable influence on the anti- or alter-globalization movement.
In a 2011 interview in the important Polish weekly "Polityka" Bauman criticized Zionism and Israel, saying Israel was not interested in peace and that it was "taking advantage of the Holocaust to legitimize unconscionable acts." He compared the Israeli West Bank barrier to the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto where hundreds of thousands of Jews died in the Holocaust. Israeli ambassador to Warsaw, Zvi Bar, called Bauman's comments "half truths" and "groundless generalizations."
Bauman was married to writer Janina Lewinson (she died on 29 December 2009 in Leeds) and has three daughters, painter Lydia Bauman, architect Irena Bauman, and Professor of mathematics education Anna Sfard. The noted Israeli civil rights lawyer Michael Sfard is his grandson.
1.^ Piotr Gontarczyk, "Towarzysz 'Semjon': Profesor Zygmunt Bauman, intelektualny patron nowej lewicy, był oficerem i agentem komunistycznej bezpieki" [Comrade "Semjon": Professor Zygmunt Bauman, the intellectual patron of the New Left, was an officer and agent of the communist security apparatus], in: Ozon, no. 23/2006.
2.^ Aida Edemariam, "Professor with a past", The Guardian, April 28, 2007 The Guardian interviewer erroneously claims that the Ozon article was written by Bogdan Musial, a conservative Polish historian working in Germany. In fact, it was written by Institute of National Remembrance employee Piotr Gontarczyk; Musial had simply repeated Gontarczyk's findings in the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
3.^ Roman Frister, Polish-Jewish sociologist compares West Bank separation fence to Warsaw Ghetto walls, Haaretz, September 1, 2011.
4.^ Janina Bauman nie żyje, news from Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza