Jehuda and Pola Stopnicki papers
The papers consist of documents and 21 photographs relating to the experiences of Jehuda and Pola Stopnicki (donors' parents) during and after the Holocaust. Includes restitution papers and correspondence; testimonies of Jehuda and Pola Stopnicki's and their families' experiences; poems written by Jehuda Stopnicki shortly before her wedding; and family photographs from before World War II, while living as displaced persons in France, and after their immigration to Israel and later to Bolivia.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Roberto Stopnicki
- Document Creator
- Jehuda Stopnicki
Jehuda Stopnicki was born in Bedzin, Poland on December 17, 1915. He was one of ten children born to Hershl and Alta Perl Stopnicki: Yosef, Shlomo, Rachmil, Leah, Jehuda, Nute (Natan), Chaya Tzira, Avram, Shamuel, and Dorka (Dora). On September 8, 1939, just one week after the German invasion of Poland, the Germans massacred over 170 Jews at the Bedzin synagogue. Jehuda Stopnicki witnessed the corpses of the Jews who had been shot sitting against the wall. From 1939-1943, Jehuda lived in the Bedzin ghetto with his family. In 1940, Jehuda married Mirjam (Manya) Grosfeld, and their son, Chaim Heshl Stopnicki, was born in 1941.
While in the ghetto, one of the Stopnicki brothers was sent away for forced labor, and their father, Heshel, died in 1942 of natural causes. In May 1942, deportations from Bedzin to Auschwitz concentration camp began and reached their peak in August 1942. During this time, Alta Perl Stopnicki was deported and perished at Auschwitz. On August 12, 1942, all the Jews of the Bedzin ghetto were assembled, and 5,000 people were deported. Jehuda remained in the ghetto, working as an air raid watchman and participating in the burial of the Jews who were killed during the “aktions.” On August 1, 1943, the Germans began the final liquidation of the Bedzin ghetto. In preparation, Jehuda and other residents of the ghetto dug bunkers and created hiding places. Jehuda created a space for his family behind a double wall in their apartment. Jehuda, his wife Mirjam, and their fourteen-month-old son Chaim Heshl, Jehuda’s brother and sister, and two other family members (a sister-in-law) and Mirjam’s mother hid in the bunker for seven days.
According to Jehuda’s interview with David Boder, Chaim Heshl died in August 1943, during the week the family was hiding in their apartment. Following his death, Jehuda and Mirjam turned themselves into the Germans. This contradicts the information written by Jehuda in his restitution paperwork which states that Chaim Heshl died on the way to Auschwitz.
Jehuda, Mirjam, and their family members were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. Jehuda, Mirjam, and Jehuda’s brother were selected for work, the others were sent to the gas chambers. Jehuda and his brother were transferred to Birkenau, where Jehuda was tattooed with the prisoner number 134419. During a subsequent selection, Nute Stopnicki was selected and never seen again. After three months, Jehuda was selected for forced labor at the Krupp factory in Fünfteichen, Germany, a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp. In January 1945, with the Russian army advancing, Jehuda and other prisoners were sent on a death march. On January 28, 1945, they arrived in Gross-Rosen. A few weeks later, they were loaded into open train cars and sent to Flossenbürg concentration camp. In April 1945, the group was sent on a death march to a camp near Dresden, Germany, and then marched along the Elbe River to Czechoslovakia to the concentration camp in Litomerice. They were then led to Theresienstadt where they were liberated by the Russians on May 8, 1945.
For three months Jehuda recovered in a hospital In September 1945, he returned to Bedzin to look for surviving family members. Only four other members of his family survived: Abram, Rachmil, Shmuel, and Dorka. His wife, Mirjam died of a typhoid infection while in Auschwitz. Two brothers immigrated to Israel illegally, and a third brother went to Munich, Germany with their sister Dora. In Bedzin, Jehuda assisted with the reconstruction of the Jewish community and founded a kibbutz. In July 1946, the members of the kibbutz went to Munich. After the pogrom in Kielce, Poland, Jehuda traveled illegally to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he received assistance from the group Agudas Israel, and a passport from the International Red Cross that allowed him to travel to Paris, France.
In early September 1946, Jehuda arrived in Henonville, France, 50km from Paris, where he lived with other displaced persons at a chateau that became Kibbutz Nezach Israel under the leadership of Aliya Agudas Israel.While living in Henoville, France, Jehuda Stopnicki met Pola Schaechter. They married on February 5, 1947. Their son, Rachmial (Roberto) was born on September 21, 1948. The family immigrated to Israel where they lived for a few years before immigrating to Bolivia where they joined other family members. Their daughter, Guita (Galit) was born in La Paz, Bolivia on August 19, 1956. The Stopnickis ran a women’s clothing store and Jehuda became the head of the Jewish community in La Paz. Pola Stopnicki died in La Paz on March 27, 1968. Jehuda died in Herzliya, Israel on June 15, 1995.
Pola (Perl or Perale) Schaechter (later Pola Stopnicki, 1923-1968) was born on May 23, 1923 in Parczew, Poland. She was one of nine sisters and one brother born to Guitta (Guittale) and Rachmiel Schaechter: Bela (Balche); Fela (Faige); Bashe; Malka; Rivka; Hanna (Hanke); Pola; Amelia (Esther); Shia (Shiale); and Rachel (Ruchele). In November 1939 the ghetto was established in Parczew. Pola and two of her sisters, Hanna and Rivka, escaped the ghetto and adopted false Polish identities. They went to Warsaw, Poland where Pola became “Stanislawa Budzyla.” Ultimately, the sisters were separated and sent to forced labor. Pola was sent to Rüdersdorf, Germany, to perform heavy labor in the Kalkbergen, including snow removal in the wintertime. By the end of 1942, Pola fell severally ill with an infection and was sent to a hospital in Rüdersdorf for a partial thyroidectomy. She was given no time for recovery from the surgery and was forced to return to work a few days after the operation. Her continue continued to deteriorate, and she eventually lost all her teeth due to malnutrition. At the time of liberation in April 1945, she weighed only 77 lbs. Due to her condition, Pola remained in Rüdersdorf for a short time, before she was sent to Zielona Gora in Poland by the Russians. From there, she went in search of her family, but was unable to return to Parczew due to pogroms and rampant anti-Semitism. She fled to France where she was reunited with Hanna. They girls received assistance from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Soon, the sisters discovered that Amelia was the only other family member to survive the Holocaust.
While living in Henoville, France, Pola Schaechter met Jehuda Stopnicki. They married on February 5, 1947. Their son, Rachmial (Roberto) was born on September 21, 1948. The family immigrated to Israel where they lived for a few years before immigrating to Bolivia where they joined other family members. Their daughter, Guita (Galit) was born in La Paz, Bolivia on August 19, 1956. The Stopnickis ran a women’s clothing store and Jehuda became the head of the Jewish community in La Paz. Pola Stopnicki died in La Paz on March 27, 1968. Jehuda died in Herzliya, Israel on June 15, 1995.
- System of Arrangement
- The Jehuda and Pola Stopnicki papers are arranged in a single series.
- Topical Term
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Reparations.
World War, 1939-1945--Confiscations and contributions.
Restitution and indemnification claims (1933-)
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- Roberto Stopnicki and Galit Stopnicki Rotman donated the Jehuda and Pola Stopnicki papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- Restrictions on use
Record last modified: 2020-10-07 13:23:26
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