Stella Czajkowska is one of the relatively few Jews who survived the war, despite the ghetto, the gas chambers in Auschwitz, hunger and disease in Stutthof and a gruesome death march. Her story is symbolic of the horror in which the victims of Nazi regime had landed.
Stella Czajkowska grew up in the Free City of Danzig. Even though she was Jewish she studied music in a German conservatory. When the war broke out, she and her family were forced to move to the ghetto in Lódz, renamed by Germans as Litzmannstadt. Subsequently they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim. Stella was selected for the gas chambers, but miraculously she survived. Soon after this ordeal she was, together with her sister, mother and other women, transported – hungry and naked – to Stutthof.
Stutthof was a very cruel place, especially during the selections for the gas chambers. One morning Stella found her mother on a pile of dead women… When she went to her ill sister in the camp hospital with a food ration, a German official caught her. Unexpectedly he did not punish her, but even helped her sister with additional food.
Ill with typhoid fever Stella and her sister were forced to leave Stutthof during one of death marches. When they reached the Vistula river, they were all herded onto a boat. Many of prisoners had already died when they eventually landed on a beach in Neustadt (Schleswig-Holstein). There the survivors ran into an SS unit that started to kill all the prisoners. But suddenly an air raid began causing great confusion. Soon afterwards British soldiers entered the town. Stella’s war was over. In an empty house she found a piano and started to play.
After the war Stella became a music professor in Gothenburg, teaching gifted students to play the piano.