Bultz, Paula

Paula Bultz was born November 24, 1935 in Warsaw, Poland, where her family had lived for four generations. She remembers her prewar childhood in positive terms, full of family and love.  All of that changed in late 1939:  her father was recalled to active military service, and in September the war began.  Paula’s mother made the decision to leave Warsaw, and a farmer helped her and Paula to cross into the Soviet zone of occupied Poland.  They went into hiding, but the Soviet authorities found them out after a few weeks. They were deported to a labor camp in Siberia. Paula, a little four-year-old girl, spent her days alone in the barracks, while her mother Bella was cutting lumber with the other prisoners.  Happily her mother found other work in the infirmary, and conditions improved for the two of them.  As the war was not going well for the Soviet Union, they were released after two years and they made their way to Uzbekistan. After Paula nearly died en route, they settled down in a small village where Bella worked as a cotton-picker. When Bella discovered that there was a large European and Polish community in a nearby town, they moved there and she found work as a seamstress.  After liberation, Bella and Paula returned to Poland, where they learned that they had lost everybody in the family.  After encountering growing antisemitism, the family  – Paula’s mother had remarried and Paula now had a little brother – decided to leave Poland. They fled to Germany where they spent a year in the Heidenheim displaced persons camp.  The family then moved to Sweden and that’s where Paula’s second brother was born in 1948. They immigrated to Canada in 1951 and settled in Montreal. Paula’s stepfather found work as a furrier. After graduating high school, Paula went to a commercial school, where she learned stenography and bookkeeping. She married soon after graduating and had her son four years later.  Paula later began volunteering at the Montreal Holocaust Museum where she has shared her story with thousands of students, and that now includes a zoom with Crestwood students from March 2021.