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Lucy Baras. Lucy Baras.
Lucy Baras

Name: Lucy Rothstein Baras (1913 – 2002)

Birth Place: Skalat, Poland (Now the Ukraine)

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1950, Sheboygan

Well, we had to take the chance. There was no doubt about it.

Lucy Baras

Map of survivor's journey in Europe.

Biography

Lucy Rothstein Baras was born in Skalat, Poland (Ukraine), on August 15, 1913. She was the oldest child in the family of an Orthodox Jewish leather merchant. After graduating from high school, she attended law school in Lwow. A 1933 law prohibiting Jews from practicing law forced her to abandon her schooling. Instead, Lucy learned the tailoring trade and returned to Skalat to open her own shop.

The Jews of Skalat lived in relative safety until July 4, 1941, when Nazi forces overran the city. They killed about 400 men, including her father. The Rothstein family continued to survive by working for the Germans in the family leather shop making shoes for concentration camp workers. A short time later a Jewish ghetto was established in the family's neighborhood in Skalat. Its borders continued to shrink following numerous "actions" in which thousands were murdered.

In early 1943 the family was forced to leave their home and work at the labor camp established in Skalat. Lucy was appointed the personal tailor to the Nazi overseer of the county. Lucy's husband-to-be, Edward Baras, was the overseer's farm administrator. In the summer of 1943, Lucy, her mother, and her brother escaped to the forest, where they hid for three weeks. During that time, her mother failed to return while searching for food. She was never seen again. Lucy and her brother joined a group of Jews hiding deeper in the woods. They remained there until their liberation by the Russian army at the end of 1943. After liberation, they traveled through Zbaraz, eventually to return to Skalat in early 1944 where she immediately reunited with Edward. The two were wed and a son was born in 1945.

Fearing similar persecution under the communist regime, Lucy and her family fled the Ukraine soon after their son was born. They were captured in Czechoslovakia, but escaped to a displaced persons camp at Bamberg, Germany, where they were interred until 1950. After leaving Germany, the Baras' spent nine months in New York before arriving in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. They joined Edward Baras' brother and sister, who were relocated to Sheboygan directly from Germany. Edward worked as a machinist at the Kohler Company until his retirement in 1974. Lucy worked as a part-time tailor for many years. She died in February 2002.

Audio and Transcript Information

Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions


Listen to Lucy's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Lucy's childhood in Skalat, Poland
  • Family background and schools
  • Jewish community in Skalat in 1920s and 1930s
  • Her extended family, including relations in U.S.
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 11.9 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 1, Side 2
  • Description of Skalat
  • Her secular and religious education
  • Lucy attends law school in Lwow
  • Relations with Gentiles and anti-Semitism
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 2, Side 1
  • Life in Skalat as war approached
  • Occupation by the Soviets, 1939
  • Employment problems under the Russians
  • Lucy returns to her parents' home
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 2, Side 2
  • Religious life in Skalat under the Russians
  • German invasion
  • Skalat Ghetto established, 1942
  • Jews from surrounding areas moved to Skalat Ghetto
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 3, Side 1
  • Conditions in Skalat Ghetto
  • Deportations of Jews, 1942 and 1943
  • Role of the Judenrat in dealing with authorities
  • Neighboring labor camps
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 3, Side 2
  • Labor camp created in Skalat
  • Lucy tries to hide her mother from the Germans
  • Russians create false front line, summer 1943
  • Hiding in attics
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 4, Side 1
  • Lucy flees into the forest
  • Her mother disappears
  • Sees partisans once
  • Staying clothed while in the forest
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 4, Side 2
  • Learning of the end of the war
  • Decides to leave Skalat, July 1945
  • Leaving for Germany, November 1945
  • Capture in Czechoslovakia
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.9 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 5, Side 1
  • Escapes Czech authorities and reaches Selb, Germany
  • Life in Bamberg displaced persons camp
  • Black market activities
  • Religious life in Bamberg displaced persons camp
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.2 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 5, Side 2
  • More details about deportations from Skalat
  • Life in postwar Germany
  • Immigrating to the U.S., May 1949
  • Impressions of New York
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 11.9 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 6, Side 1
  • Moves to Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  • Problems being new immigrants
  • Receives help from neighbors and Jewish community
  • Husband's family background
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 6, Side 2
  • Children and family life in Sheboygan
  • Parenting
  • Lucy writes about Holocaust
  • Children's social lives in Sheboygan
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 7, Side 1
  • Lucy's family and social life in Sheboygan
  • Local Jews and Gentiles; and knowledge of the Holocaust
  • Religious practice in Sheboygan
  • A typical day in her life
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 7, Side 2
  • Lucy's writing about the Holocaust
  • Depictions of the Holocaust in American books and media
  • Travels around Wisconsin
  • Sheboygan's Jewish community
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)
Tape 8, Side 1
  • Lucy's attitudes toward Wisconsin and the U.S.
  • American politics and culture
  • Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
  • Importance of speaking about her experiences
Download Audio (MP3, 16 minutes, 7.25 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 665 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by Sara Leuchter during two sessions at the Baras home in Sheboygan on November 12 and 13, 1980. The first session lasted four and one-half hours; the second lasted three hours.

    Throughout the entire interview, Lucy was completely at ease and felt no discomfort in talking in front of the tape recorder. She speaks with a great deal of warmth and spontaneity, and the interview proceeds in clear chronological order.


Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Nov 12, 1980; Nov 13, 1980
  • Interview Location: Baras home, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Sara Leuchter
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 8 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 2 interviews, total approximately 7.5 hours
  • Transcript Length: 143 pages
  • Rights and Permissions: Any document may be printed or downloaded to a computer or portable device at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers, students and researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission.

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