Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Name: Cyla Tine Stundel (1921 – 2009)
Birth Place: Czartorysk, Poland
Arrived in Wisconsin: 1949, Milwaukee
I think you call it zombies — like living death. That's what I think we were.
Cyla Tine Stundel (also found as Sztundel) was born in Czartorysk, Poland, on March 5, 1921, to a family of Orthodox Jews. They later moved to Maniewicze, which the Soviet army occupied in September 1939. The Jews lived there in relative safety until the German invasion on June 22, 1941.
In September 1942, the Germans segregated the Jewish residents into a ghetto and, within days, murdered them all. Cyla and a younger brother escaped death by fleeing into the forest the night before the executions. The rest of her family perished.
Cyla and her brother lived from day-to-day, stealing food and sleeping in the underbrush for more than two years. They emerged from hiding in 1944 after the Russians recaptured the Ukraine. In the Ukrainian city of Rovno, they were befriended by Abraham Stundel, whom Cyla subsequently married. The three traveled westward by train in search of safety. In early 1945 her brother died of tuberculosis. Finally, in December 1945, Cyla and her husband reached the Fernwald displaced persons camp near Munich, Germany. Their son, Ksiel, was born there in 1946.
In 1949, while Cyla was in her eighth month of pregnancy with their daughter, the family immigrated to the U.S. They arrived in Milwaukee on June 13, 1949. Her husband found work as a carpenter and Cyla devoted herself to raising the children. Cyla also became an active member in her neighborhood Jewish community. She continued to lead the life of an Orthodox Jew in a Polish shtetl in Milwaukee, speaking the Yiddish language and surrounding herself with friends of a similar background. Cyla eventually moved San Francisco where she died in 2009.
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 Cyla's testimony and view transcript
- Cyla's family and childhood in Maniewicze, Poland
- Shtetls and pogroms in Poland
- Traditional Jewish life in Poland before the war
- Outbreak of World War II
- Anti-Semitism and Zionism during Cyla's youth
- Religious life and living conditions in rural Poland in the 1920s and 1930s
- Russian occupation of Cyla's village, 1939
- Religious and mystical stories
- Germans invade Maniewicze, 1941
- Mass murder of Jewish residents, 1942
- Cyla's chance escape with her younger brother
- Hiding together in the woods for two years
- Cyla meets her future husband, 1944
- Cyla's marriage in December 1944
- Life in Kiwerce, Poland, at war's end
- The family's difficult journey westward toward Munich, Germany
- Displaced persons camp at Fernwald
- Life at Fernwald after the war
- Immigrating to the U.S., 1949
- First impressions of New York and Wisconsin
- Starting over in Milwaukee
- Life as a new immigrant in Milwaukee in the 1950s
- Establishing herself in the city's Jewish community
- Cyla's subsequent children and family life
- Her husband's Holocaust experiences
- Cultural and religious life in Milwaukee's Jewish community
- Cyla's attitudes toward American culture
- Americans' understanding of the Holocaust
- Cyla's attitudes toward Israel and the U.S.
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