Schuraytz (Heisler), Aline

Schuraytz (Heisler), Aline

Survivor/Hidden Child
Berlin (Germany)

Aline (Heisler) Schuraytz was born in Berlin, Germany, 1930, to David (born 1899) and Antonia (born 1900) Heisler, natives of Krakow, Poland. She had a sister, Pessie (Pauline), seven years younger. In October 1938, Mr.  Heisler was apprehended by German police from home before dawn without  explanation. Upon reaching the police station and demanding the reason,  he was informed that all adult Jewish men were to be rounded up, for an  undisclosed destination.

Thereupon, he stated his Polish citizenship and was told he could then go to Poland, where he was consequently deported and admitted by Polish border officials without incident, and  then to Krakow where his father and siblings lived. Aline, her mother  and sister joined him in January 1939. When war broke out in September 1939, David Heisler, a reservist in the Polish army, was called to active military duty, whereupon his wife, fearing impending war conditions, boarded a train going eastward with the two daughters and nine additional relatives. On September 5th, the train was bombed and immobilized, amid a forest, resulting in the death of Aline’s uncle and injury to her mother and most relatives. The mother, carrying the two year old, and Aline after walking for hours, reached a populated village, obtained help and returned to Krakow weeks later. Meanwhile her father, taken captive in the fields, managed to hide, eventually escaping and making his way back to Krakow as a civilian after his family did.

In the summer of 1940, the Jews of Krakow had the option of living in the Krakow ghetto or the countryside. Aline’s father chose the village of Mikluszowice, in the district of Bochnia. In the summer of 1941, displaced Jews who were only renting their dwellings , but had no land, were ordered to the Bochnia ghetto or another village, district Niepolomice. The father moved the family to Podgrabie, a more remote and primitive village.

In August of 1942, Jews in the environs of Niepolomice were ordered again, with just days notice, to report to Wieliczka with their families and just twenty pounds of baggage per person. No further details. The parents decided to seek hiding. Being approached, a farmer’s wife with whom  they had been previously acquainted, readily agreed to take them in,  sheltering them in the attic and providing for their needs for the duration.  The five year old daughter could not go with them because she had whooping cough. A young polish woman, relation of a villager, took the little girl as her own by train to Krakow, risking her life,to Aline’s aunt in the Krakow ghetto to await reunion at a more favorable time. It became apparent that such a time was not to come.  A villager from Podgrabie brought the sister on his bicycle to the hiding place back with the family.

Winter came and the attic was too cold and too exposed to unexpected drop-in neighbors.  It was decided to dig a bunker in the floor of the barn, lined with straw and covered and camouflaged with straw above, with a narrow passage for entrance.  It was the size of a king sized bed, about four feet deep. Soon, David’s brother, Shimon, sent his five year old son Stefan (Steven) with Danuta Gelles, a young Polish woman, who smuggled him out of the Krakow ghetto in an industrial sized covered soup pot, to be hidden with the family.  All five stayed hidden until liberated by the Russian Army in January 1945.

In the summer of 1945, the family left Poland with the help and guidance of Brichah, pretending to be concentration camp survivors, originally from Greece. During this time David Heisler decided to consider his nephew as a son, and during transit, registered the two younger children as twins. This status continues from then on. Over the next two years, they went through six DP camps in Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany. In January, 1947, they arrived in New York and in March, 1949 moved to Detroit.

From the United States, the Heislers supported the Kepa (pronounced Kempa) family first with material goods and, later, monetarily. After her father’s death, her mother continued the practice, and later Aline.

From Aline’s close family of over twenty persons, only four besides her immediate family survived the Holocaust. In the United States, Aline Schuraytz married and had four children. She still suffers from some effects attributable to her experiences during the holocaust.

Interview information:
Date: May 21, 1996
Interviewer: Hans Weinmann
Format: Video recording
Length: 1 hour 38 minutes