Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Stimler, Barbara, 1927- (1 of 14) The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
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Ghetto experiences; Camp experiences
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The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
Stimler, Barbara, 1927- (speaker, male)
Wingate, Jennifer (speaker, male)
Part 1: Born February 1927 in Alexsandrow-Kinjawski, Poland. Only child of Sarah and Jacob Krakowska. Very much loved and indulged. Sent to kindergarten aged 4 years - nuns were her teachers. It was the only private school in Alexsandrow and she the only Jewish child there. Nuns were good to her and told her to pray according to her religion while they prayed according to theirs. She stayed there 5 or 6 years then had to take an examination for entrance to high school. Went to a Jewish high school in a town called Wloclawek. Sometimes in winter she stayed with a family near the school. She became ill and had to leave school. Talks of her early family life before school. Her mother had 3 sisters and 2 brothers. One brother and his 5 sons all perished. Father's family consists of 2 brothers and a sister and his parents had emigrated and were living in London. Holidays were usually spent at Ciechocunek - a spa not far from Alexsandrow. Her father had a shop where he sold furnishing materials. She had a number of Christian friends who were very kind to her. She remembers the beginnings of anti-semitism and Jew-baiting there but says her father had a reputation as a very tough man so no-one dared touch her. Mother was religious, father not. They kept a kosher house, lit candles for Shabbat, closed the shop and so on. She had to go to her non-Jewish school on Saturdays and this was disapproved of by some of the Jewish neighbours. Father had joined the Russian Army when he was 20 because he liked the Russian language! He was 30 when he returned (on the outbreak of revolution) and his parents were preparing to go to England where one of their sons had already settled. Father didn't want to take his family to Russia because of the behaviour of the Bolsheviks at that time. When war broke out in 1939 their town was the first to be bombed. Every house had a cellar so people sheltered there. Their house was damaged by a bomb. Describes some of her mother's family and particularly summer visits to her mother's oldest sister. This sister was married to a widower who had 3 sons and she had 2 girls and a boy with him. Not one of this family survived the war. Mother's parents also lived in this small town called Sluzewo. Mother's mother died when Barbara was quite young. Mother's father used to visit them every weekend. Very religious man. Used to wear a 'yamulka'. Mother's youngest - and unmarried - sister lived with him. She recalls one weekend visit when he became very ill and died. She was sent away to friends but remembers that before he died her grandfather asked her father to look after her mother's youngest sister and so she stayed with them. She was like a second mother to Barbara - a fantastic and lovely woman. Barbara had a Jewish teacher for lessons in Hebrew and Judaism.
Interviewee's note: Barbara Stimler was born in Alexsandrow-Kinjawski, Poland. She went to a Private Catholic school and to a Jewish high school. Her father was a shop owner. When the war started they evacuated to her uncle's in Lubraniec. Then they were sent to a work camp in Kutno. She was released and lived in Lodz/Litzmannstadt Ghetto working with sick children. In 1943 she was taken to Auschwitz. In winter 1944, she was sent to a work camp in Pirshkow. During the Russian advance she escaped and returned home. Having lost all her close relatives she went to London and worked sewing in a factory. She married Edward Stimler from Kracow and had two sons. In 1956/7 she applied for reparations from German government.