Recently, we received the sad news that Neonila Kurlyak died of Covid-19 on April 17, 2021 in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. We remember a warm-hearted, friendly and combative woman who, despite her difficult fate, could also laugh heartily and who kept her zest for life. She was always open-minded and open to new experiences.
Neonila Kurlyak, born in 1926, was deported from the USSR to Germany in 1943 as a teenager for forced labor. After an escape attempt, she was transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in May 1944 and from there to the Neuengamme concentration camp sub-camp in Hamburg-Wandsbek. There she had to work in gas mask production for the Lübeck-based company Dräger. In April 1945, the camp was evacuated and the women were transferred to the Hamburg-Eidelstedt sub-camp, where they were liberated by British soldiers in early May.
In March 1946, Neonila Kurlyak returned to her homeland. She visited Hamburg several times, most recently as part of the commemorations in May 2013, when she told Hamburg schoolchildren about her life. It was important to her to pass on memories and to remember the victims of the war: "We concentration camp prisoners took a vow to tell the younger generation about fascism and war. I grow flowers in memory of the victims of the concentration camp – red tulips. And every year on April 11, I bring these flowers to the monument to the victims in Nikolaev."
In 2013, she laid the flowers at the memorial stone in Hamburg-Wandsbek.
Our thoughts are with Neonila Kurlyak's loved ones at this time.