It is with great sadness that we learned that our friend Teresa Stiland passed away yesterday in Paris. Teresa Stiland was born Matla Rozenberg in 1925 into a Jewish family in Częstochowa, Poland. She was 14 years old when German troops occupied Łódź, where she lived with her grandparents. Matla managed to survive the Litzmannstadt/Łódź ghetto; her relatives died in the ghettos or were murdered in Treblinka.
When the ghetto was cleared in the summer of 1944, Matla Rozenberg arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where she was selected as "fit for work" for a transport to Hamburg. She was imprisoned in the Neuengamme Dessauer-Ufer and Sasel subcamps, where she had to perform hard forced labour in the harbour and in the city area. She was liberated in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
At first Matla Rozenberg returned to Poland where she was unable to find anyone from her family again. She worked for the Jewish children’s aid organization OSE and trained as a nurse. Due to anti-Semitism in Poland she changed her name to Teresa Matuszewska and then in 1957 finally emigrated to Paris where she was taken in by an uncle and a cousin. Teresa managed to build a fulfilling life for herself, with many friendships with survivors from all over the world. She married Marian Stiland, who was also a concentration camp survivor, and had a daughter. Her family was the most important thing in Teresa Stiland's life. She always spoke with pride and joy about her daughter, her four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Teresa Stiland gave her first interview to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial in 1986 about her time in the Hamburg satellite camps. She returned to Hamburg several times and told schoolchildren about her persecution and survival, whether at the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial, at the Oberalster grammar school or at memorial events in Poppenbüttel/Sasel. Her life's journey is also presented in the main exhibition at the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial, the Poppenbüttel Plattenhaus memorial and an exhibition in the former forced labourer barracks in Fuhlsbüttel. In Paris, she was frequently invited as a contemporary witness at the Mémorial de la Shoah. Teresa Stiland's life story was published in 2017 under the title "Dernier chemin vers le paradis".
Teresa Stiland has passed away at the age of 96. We will greatly miss her warm, curious and approachable nature! Our thoughts are with her family.