Skolimowski was born in Łódź, Poland, the son of Maria (née Postnikoff) and Stanisław Skolimowski, an architect. He often recognized indications in his work to a childhood ineradicably scarred by the War. As a small child he witnessed the brutalities of war, even having been rescued from the rubble of a bombed-out house in Warsaw. His father, a member of the Polish Resistance, was executed by the Nazis. His mother hid a Jewish family in the house and Skolimowski recalls being required to take candy from the Nazis to maintain appearances.