10/24/2022 News

In remembrance of Paula Schemiavitz

We received the sad news that Paula Shemiavitz passed away in Israel on the night of October 18, 2022 at the age of 89.

In 1932 Paula Sledzik was born as the youngest child in a Jewish family of eight children. The family ran a clothing factory in Łódź. Paula was only seven years old when German troops invaded Poland. The family was torn apart, and Paula had to move with her parents and her sister Elsa to the city's ghetto, which had been set up by the Germans. Her mother died first due to the catastrophic conditions, shortly after her father also died. In 1943, Rooja, an older sister, joined Paula and Elsa. When the Litzmannstadt ghetto was dissolved in the summer of 1944, Paula and her two sisters were sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. After a short time, all three were deported in a transport of 500 women to the subcamps of the Neuengamme concentration camp on Dessauer Ufer and in Sasel. There they had to carry out difficult forced labor in the harbor and in the city area. At the beginning of April 1945, the prisoners of the Sasel concentration camp were transported to Bergen-Belsen. The oldest sister died during the transport. Paula Sledzik, who was barely 13 years old, and her sister Elsa, witnessed the liberation by British troops on April 15, 1945. Out of her family, only she and one brother, who had fled to Russia at the beginning of the war, survived.

After a period of time in the Displaced Persons Camp in Frankfurt-Zeilsheim, Paula Sledzik went to Israel with other young people. There she soon met her future husband Michael Schemiavitz. He was also a survivor of the Shoah. They started a family and had two children. In the late 1980s, the family lived in Frankfurt for a few years for professional reasons. This return to the land of the perpetrators was not an easy decision for Paula Schemiavitz.

Paula Schemiavitz's sister Elsa testified at the Sasel concentration camp trial in 1946. Paula began to speak about her experiences of persecution only in later years at the request of her family. She gave several life story interviews, including one at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial during her last visit to Hamburg in May 2015.

We remember with joy the encounters with Paula Schemiavitz, her quiet humor, her reserve and her great kindness and warmth. Our thoughts are with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.