Section: Survival and legacy

Life after the Holocaust

Senta Hirtz, a refugee from Nazi Germany, pictured after the war in 1945-46 as a Jewish Relief Unit Nurse in a Displaced Persons Camp in Celle, Germany.

Senta Hirtz, a refugee from Nazi Germany, pictured after the war in 1945-46 as a Jewish Relief Unit Nurse in a Displaced Persons Camp in Celle, Germany.

Courtesy of The Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

After the defeat of Nazism, survivors of Nazi persecution attempted to reconstruct their lives, or begin new ones. This section explores different survivors’ lives after liberation.

Lotte Jaslowitz

Lotte Jaslowitz (née Singer) was a Romanian, wealthy, German-speaking Jew. Lotte attended university where she was awarded doctorate in philosophy. In 1921, she married a doctor named Adolf Jaslowitz. Prior to the Nazi invasion, the couple lived in Czernowitz, a bustling town with a large Jewish community. They had two children, Hörst (later known as Harry, born in 1922) and Sonja (born in 1927). In the 1930s, fascism rose in popularity across Romania and antisemitism increased. As a result of this, Lotte and Adolf sent their son, Harry, to study in England in 1938.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Czernowitz was occupied by Nazi Germany on 5 July 1941. On 4 June 1942, the Jaslowitz’s were deported to the Ladijin Concentration Camp (also referred to as Cariera de Piatra). From Ladijin, the Jaslowitz family were moved to another concentration camp at Obodovka and from there to the Tiraspol Ghetto.

Sonja, Lotte, and Adolf were released from the ghetto sometime between 17-19 March 1944. Following their release, they travelled to Bucharest, where, on 7 May 1944, Sonja was killed by a British air raid on the city. Adolf died from tuberculosis shortly afterward. Following her daughter and husband’s death, Lotte Jaslowitz emigrated from Bucharest and joined her son in England.

After settling in England, Lotte returned to her education. She trained as a barrister at Lincolns Inn, was called to the bar on 10 February 1959. After graduating, Lotte became involved in the welfare of blind Jews and campaigned on their behalf for better services. As a result of her work, she was made the Life Governor of the Jewish Blind Society. In her free time, she enjoyed writing, and wrote many fictional short stories. Lotte Jaslowitz died on 10 February 1984.

Senta Hirtz

Senta Ruth Augusta Hirtz was born in London on 12 March 1908, where her Belgian-Jewish father, Heinrich Hirtz, worked as a chemist. In 1910, the family returned to Germany. After finishing school, Senta worked first as a nursery nurse and then as a teacher in Berlin. Following the Nazi rise to power, she was forbidden to work under the new Nazi employment laws due to her Jewish heritage.

As a result of the increasing persecution, the Hirtz family emigrated to London as refugees in 1936. After teaching as a dance tutor for several years, Senta was accepted at St Thomas’s Hospital to train as a physiotherapist.

Following the end of the Second World War, Senta applied to work for the Jewish Relief Unit (JRU), a British charity which focused on providing relief work abroad, and in particular with the Jewish survivors in Europe. Senta was first sent to Bergen-Belsen , arriving in July 1945. She worked for the JRU for about eleven months in various locations across Germany.

After her work with the JRU finished, Senta returned to the UK in 1946. Her mother moved to England to live with her in 1957. Senta Hirtz became a registered physiotherapist and specialised in the treatment of children with cerebral palsy and other special needs. She retired from physiotherapy in 1977, having been appointed at Greenwich District Hospital to work with older people in the early 1970s.

In her later years, she continued the study of different world religions and enjoyed painting. Senta Hirtz died on 26 November 1998.

Ludwik Finkelstein

Ludwik Finkelstein was born in Lvov, Poland, on 6 December 1929 to Adolf and Amalia Finkelstein. The family were Polish-speaking, merchant Jews. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Ludwik’s father, Adolf, was imprisoned in a Soviet labour camp, while Ludwik and his mother Amalia were deported to a labour camp on the border of Siberia by Soviet forces. Following the start of Operation Barbarossa, the Finkelstein’s were released in September 1941. Reunited as a family, Adolf joined the Polish army and moved his family to Iran and then Tel Aviv. In 1947, the family emigrated to Britain.

Once the family had settled in north London, Ludwik was determined to become an engineer. Despite the interruption to his education during the war, on his arrival in Britain he studied physics, applied mathematics and engineering at Northern Polytechnic (now part of London Metropolitan University), and graduated in 1951. After spending several years researching scientific advancements to improve the Coal Mining industry in the UK, Ludwik undertook a master’s degree in physics and graduated 1959. Later that year, he became a lecturer and professor at Northampton College of Advanced Technology, where he specialised in the science of measurements. In the mid-1960s, the college became City University, and Ludwik became pro-vice-chancellor.

In 1957, Ludwik met and married Mirjam Wiener. Mirjam was the daughter of Alfred Wiener, who founded The Wiener Holocaust Library. After fleeing to Amsterdam, Mirjam was deported with her two sisters and mother to Westerbork and then Bergen-Belsen before being released on a prisoner exchange scheme in 1945. Together, Mirjam and Ludwik had three children, Anthony, Daniel and Tamara.

Ludwik retired in 1993 but continued to study. Following his retirement, he was awarded a master’s degree and a doctorate in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from the Leo Baeck College. Ludwik Finkelstein died on 27 August 2011.  His wife, Mirjam, died on 28 January 2017.

Theresia Seibel

Theresia Seibel was German Sinti born in 1921. From 1937 onwards she worked as a dancer and singer at Stadttheater in Würzburg, where she met her partner Gabriel Reinhardt in the early 1940s. Following the Nazi rise to power, Roma and Sinti were subjected to increasingly brutal persecution and, from 1936, they were also subjected to sterilisation. In 1941, the Gestapo approached Theresia and forced her to sign an authorisation form agreeing to be sterilised.

Theresia knew that she wanted children and would not be able to have them after the procedure. She decided to get pregnant. She was successful and by the time she was booked in for the sterilisation procedure, she was three months pregnant with twins. The Nazis allowed Theresia to continue with the pregnancy, under the condition that the twins were given to the University of Würzburg for research purposes following their birth.

The two girls, Rita and Rolanda, were born on 3 March 1943. Shortly after, Theresia found Rolanda dead in the clinic at the University having been the subject of medical experiments. Theresia attempted to remove Rita from the clinic, but she did not succeed and did not see her remaining daughter for another year, during which time Theresia was sterilised. In April 1944, Theresia was reunited with her remaining daughter, Rita, and both survived the war.

After liberation, Gabriel and Theresia separated following the discovery that Gabriel’s first wife (who had been deported to Auschwitz) had in fact survived. In 1962, Theresia Seibel married an American soldier and in her later years she founded a Sinti human rights organisation to raise awareness of the Nazis’ treatment of Roma.

Ronald Roberts

Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Roberts was a man of mixed Barbadian/ German/ British descent born in Germany in 1921. After the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933, Ronnie experienced increasing racism because of his skin colour and heritage, including being excluded from his local youth group and being threatened by the Gestapo with castration. As a young man, he attended music school but was later removed and forced complete labour building motorways instead.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Ronnie was imprisoned by the Nazis in various hard-labour and civilian internee camps in Germany including Würzburg, Bavaria. He was released in 1945.

After the war he spent a short amount of time working in DP camps in Austria as a translator and driver before moving to Vienna to live with his sister, Beryl, who was married to a night club owner. In Vienna, Ronnie became a cocktail waiter and secured a prestigious position at the Hotel Sacher in 1946-47 where Ronnie’s Bar became one of the most popular spots amongst the Viennese night clubbing public. Around the same time, he married a friend of his sister, Hermine.

In the early 1950s Ronnie and Hermine emigrated to London, where they acquired several properties. Hermine and Ronnie later split, and he met and married Carol. Together, they bought a hotel and moved to Devon, where they had two children.

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Remembering the Holocaust: awareness, museums and memorials

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