A picture tells a thousand words, but never the full story. There is nothing more powerful then the words of those who survived the darkest era of mankind.
Stimler was born in Poland, in the town of Aleksandrow Kujawski, close to the German border.
She was 12 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland , the only daughter of Sarah and Jakob, who owned a small textile shop. She was, she says, “the apple of my father’s eye”. After the invasion, the family moved from town to town in increasing desperation. Her father was arrested, her mother beaten up, she was molested by SS guards.
Below are some of Barbara’s experiences in her own words.
When we got to Auschwitz, which I didn’t know it was Auschwitz, I didn’t know nothing about it; I did not know about concentration camps, I did not know what was going on at all. When we got there they told us, ‘Raus, raus, raus!’ They didn’t let us take the clothes at all, they started separating women from men. Cries. It was just terrible. The husbands were from wives, the mothers from sons, it was just a nightmare. I started to get diarrhoea, I was sick and diarrhoea, suddenly. We started going through the… through the gate; the SS men were on both sides. And the girls, young people that could see what state I was in, they had a bit of sugar and they started putting sugar in my mouth to revive me. And when they were going through the gates, they were just holding me up, and was left and right, left and right. I went to the right, they told me to go to the right, the SS men. And we had to be…. we were…. they formed us like fifths, five, five, five, we had to stay in five, five girls. And it was dark; it was dark, and they are starting to march us. And can you imagine the screams, the…. the mother was going to the left, the daughter was going to the right, the babies going to the left, the mothers going to the right, or the mothers went together with the babies… Oy oy! I cannot explain to you the cries and the screams, and tearing their hair off. Can you imagine?”
“When it was getting lighter I could see there are like blocks, and a girl comes out from a block, she has no shoes, she has no hair, her dress is far above the knee. I thought, maybe this block maybe some children, girls got mad and they’re keeping them together in a mad house, not thinking that in a couple of hours I would look exactly the same. And we are marching, and they are counting us, and marching, and counting us, and marching and counting us, non-stop counting. Till we got to a big room, a big big room there, one of the blocks, full of SS men, and with the beds. ‘Undress!’ in German. And there are also men, Jewish men, working, with the striped… they looked like striped pyjamas. Of course they had to do what they were told to do. And in one second we have been all undressed like God bore us, and beating, and doing this, and doing that. We had to go all round, single, all round this room, going round and round and round, and they were still picking up girls and women, sorting out. All the time sorting, sorting, sorting. Who knew what they were doing? They were sorting to put in the gas chambers, but who knew it? I still was very ignorant, I still did not know what was waiting. And eventually they put us in another place where they start shaving us everywhere, the hair, washing us, in showers, and giving us dresses, just dresses nothing else. And I know why the dresses were getting shorter and shorter, because when you went to the toilet it didn’t have no paper so we were tearing the dresses off, to wipe ourselves.”
She was born in Alexsandrow, Poland in 1927
She survived the camp in Kutno, Lodz/Litzmannstadt ghetto, Auschwitz in 1943, work camp at Pirshkow. Death march to Odra.
Her parents were both murdered, but where is not really known.