Stefania Sitbon is a Holocaust Survivor from Poland. She was born just before the war began, so Stefania doesn’t remember the German invasion, or life before the war. The memories she has are of her childhood, a time when things had changed dramatically. Stefania grew up in the chaos and hunger of the Warsaw Ghetto, where her father had taken up resistance against the Nazis – he later participated in the uprising, which he survived. With the help of a righteous Gentile, Stefania and the other members of her family found temporary refuge in the Warsaw Zoo, the subject of the recent film The Zookeeper’s Wife. From there Stefania and her family were separated and sent to convents and surrounding villages, from which they were liberated in 1945. Her reunited family spent the immediate postwar years in Austria and Poland, after which they emigrated to the new nation of Israel, later deciding to go to Canada.
Oral History Project June 9th, 2017
Hana Windwar was born in 1933 in Warsaw, Poland. She was six years old when the war began and she was the only child of her parents. She went to Russia with her parents. Her dad was taken to Russia, and forced into the army during the war. Her mom needed to work and Hana was put in a orphanage. Hana went back to Germany after the war but lost contact with her mom. She met her husband in 1948 when Hana and her mom were waiting emigrate to Israel. She was married in 1951, and moved to Canada in 1966. Crestwood students visited Hana at Baycrest in February 2016 to hear her story.
Oral History Project May 16th, 2016
Chava Sloma was born in Otwock, Poland in 1925. Though she recalled incidents of anti-Semitism, she said her prewar life was for the most part good. All that changed dramatically in September 1939 though; the family initially fled to Warsaw, but as the German army advanced, the decision was made to separate, and Chava and her sister headed for the Russian border. After being smuggled across the border, Chava and her sister Frania were shipped to Siberia, where they spent most of the war, working in the gulags deep in the wilderness. While conditions were rough, Chava remembered the kindness of a few people who kept her going, through disease and deprivation. When the war came to an end, she made her way back to Poland, to discover that her family had been murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka. Chava found the will to go on, and she married and began a family, soonafter heading to Canada, where she arrived at Pier 21.
Chava visited Crestwood in February 2016, where four generations of the Lerner family came together one afternoon to listen to and to document her story, and to become witnesses to their own family history in this difficult period of history.
Oral History Project March 6th, 2016
Amek Adler was born in Lublin, Poland, in 1928 and grew up in Lodz. After Nazi occupation in 1939, his family escaped to Warsaw and then to Radom. In 1943, Amek was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and from there was sent to a series of work camps and eventually shipped to Dachau, where his father and one brother perished. Amek was liberated on April 28, 1945. Amek worked with the Israeli Irgun Tzvai Leumi to help illegal immigrants into Palestine, and when he heard that his mother had survived he moved on to Sweden, where he married and started his own family. He immigrated to Canada in 1954, where he and his family built a new life for themselves.
We met Amek at Baycrest in September 2015, where he was interviewed for this project by Aaron Joshua, Jonah Patel, Charley Swartz, Rohan Narayanan, and Ted Kang.
Oral History Project October 29th, 2015
Adam Shtibel was born in the small Polish town of Komarow. Early in the war his town was occupied by the USSR, and later by the Germans. At that time, he served as herdsmen for a local farmer. With the death of his father, Adam continued as labourer for a Polish farmer. Adam saw the round-up of the Jewish population and their being loaded on to cattle cars. The farmer told him that he must leave because of German regulations. Adam met a group of boys and girls from his hometown; they wandered over the countryside begging for food from the peasants. Adam was eventually arrested and brought to a camp where he was sheltered by the Red Cross. Selected by farming family to work in the village of Borki, he described meeting with invading Russian troops. In 1947 Adam learned about the war’s end. Accompanied by the farmer’s wife he traveled to Warsaw and was cared for by the Jewish Committee. Sent to an orphanage, Adam came to realize that he was the sole survivor of his family. At this time, he met Rachel Milbauer, and the two married and moved to Israel, where Adam worked in the aircraft industry and served in the IDF. In 1968 they made their way to Canada.
We met both Adam and Rachel at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa in September 2014, where Adam was interviewed by Steven Feng, Abhishek Chandaria, and Meghan Massad. In January 2018, the Shtibels visited us at Crestwood, and Adam was interviewed by students from CHC2D.
Oral History Project January 11th, 2015
Hank Rosenbaum was born into a comfortable Jewish family in Warsaw in 1936. The German invasion of Poland turned life for the Rosenbaum family upside down. He and his family would spend the next 6 years in and out of ghettos- escaping and evading the Germans on multiple occasions. He spent the final years of the war living with Jewish partisans in the forests of Poland. His story is an amazing one of Jewish resistance in Poland. He shared his story in 2014 with Maya Morrow.
Oral History Project May 27th, 2014
Mel Goldberg was born in the summer of 1942, in Baila Rawska, Warsaw. He had two brothers and one sister, but none survived the war. Mel’s town was liquidated in 1942 , and the family was sent to Treblinka, a death camp located in Poland. Mel’s father had given his newborn son to a local cobbler to protect him. Because of that Mel was the only member of his family to survive, though he has few direct memories of the time. When the war was over, Mel spent time in an orphanage – and it was there that the news of his survival came to light, and distant relatives searched for hi. Mel was able several years later to move to Toronto, where he began his new life.
Mel was originally interviewed for this project in the February 2014 by Josh Weisbrod. In December 2017 he visited us at Crestwood, sitting down for a second interview with Ken Wu, Max Wolburgh, and Canyon Li.
Oral History Project May 21st, 2014
Simon Saks was born in Poland in 1932. He was taken by the Nazis from his home at the age of 7, and was imprisoned until his liberation at the age of 13. He had one year of education at a public school before that time. Simon at first was in the Warsaw Ghetto; there he worked in a factory. When the deportations began, Simon passed through five labour camps, including Buchenwald and Gross Rosen. With the conclusion of the war he was able to make his way to England, and then to Canada.
Simon was interviewed for this project in February 2014 by Daniel Rokin.
Oral History Project March 31st, 2014
Nina Grey survived the Holocaust in wartime Poland. Her family was on the move, hiding in and out of Warsaw and fortunately always able to stay just one step of the Germans. She shared her story at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa in the fall of 2012, when she sat down with Jake Borinsky, Jessie Cooke, and Steph Erdman.
Oral History Project January 14th, 2013
Irene Kurtz is a Survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, where she witnessed the fateful uprising of 1943. From there she was deported to several of the camps, including Madjanek and Skarzysko. After her liberation by Soviet troops she worked in a hospital before she was able to leave Poland and eventually emigrate to Canada.
Irene was interviewed at Baycrest by Crestwood students So Hee Pyo, Jenny Son, Lauren Engeland, and Emma Myers.
Pinchas Gutter was born in Lodz and was 7 years old when the war broke out. After his father was brutally beaten by Nazis in Lodz, he fled with his family to what they thought was safety in Warsaw. From there, Pinchas and his family were incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto for three and a half years – until April 1943, the time of the ghetto uprising. After three weeks the family was deported to the death camp, Majdanek. Pinchas was sent to a work camp where people were beaten, shot or worked to death. Towards the end of the war he was forced on a death march, which he barely survived. He was liberated by the Russians on May 8,1945 and was later taken to Britain with other children for rehabilitation. He spoke at Crestwood for the first time in our Holocaust Conference in 2008. He has since visited classes and spoken to students on many occasions, including our 2012 Human Rights Symposium. In February 2014 Josh Zweig visited Pinchas in his home for this interview, and in 2016 Pinchas returned to visit Mr. Masters’ History 10 class.
When World War Two began in 1939 Abe and his family went to Warsaw for just two weeks as Germans took it over and then to Bialystok. After Abe and family left Bialystok they went to Lida. From there Zaida and his family spent the rest of the war in Siberia, safe from the Nazis. During the war years Zaida worked hard at a logging camp. It was hard work but he enjoyed the beautiful outdoors and the most important thing was that he and his family were safe. After the war they went to Belgium and in 1957, Abe and his family traveled by ship to Canada.
Abe was interviewed by his grandson Jon for the Crestwood Oral History Project.