Samuel Blei—Czernowitz to Mittelbau-Dora

Samuel Blei was born on May 9, 1901 to parents Salomon Selig Blei and Gusta Sandberg. His sister Ettel was my grandmother.

Marriage to Freida Schneider

Samuel married Freida Schneider in 1926. During the war, they lived at Fiakerhalter #2. In the 1936 Czernowitz business directory on ehpes.com, Frieda Blei was working out of the same address on Romana Strasse as her husband. She worked as a Funcionara (Clerk).  

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Romana Strasse #92

In a 1936 Czernowitz business directory (Source: ehpes.com), Samuel Blei is listed as a Frizer (Barber), located at Romana Strasse #92. In the Austro-Hungarian period, the street was named “Russische Gasse” and in the Soviet and Ukrainian eras (and present day), it was “Russka”. In a 1933 issue of “Der Tag” newspaper, it was announced that this important street would be paved.

You would find nearly anything you needed, walking Romana Strasse in 1936. Salo Brull’s photography studio at #6 and M. Fuhrmann‘s at #10. Hungry? Odobestilor Dealul‘s Wine is at #7. Meschulim Friedmann’s Dairy is at Romana #4. Wolf Burg‘s bakery was at 132e. At #1, you would find several Jewelers – Stefan Bandynda and also Jacob Goldschlager. More jewelers are scattered around the area. Bronislaus Chytrenschi sold women’s handbags at #22.  A Turkish bathhouse run by Sofia Baia was at #40. A bathhouse was where you could shower and bathe. Stamp collectors would find David Gronich at #1. Pharmacies, lawyers (Max Diamant at #14) bakery equipment, buttons, furniture, headstones, mirrors, anything you needed.

 

An ex-Czernowitzer recalled of the time, “There was a Trolleybus running on electricity in the Russische Gasse up to, I think Zezina. It was very quiet compared to the noise of the “tramvai.” (note: the Czernowitz tram was opened in 1897. The first autobuses were put into operation in August 1933)

It’s possible that Samuel and Freida lived in Hungary sometime in the 1930s, as he appears on a Hungarian list of the Jewish World Congress.

Mittelbau-Dora

Samuel Blei appears on a list of murdered persons (Source: Yad Vashem) “those who perished from the labor battalions and deportees from Hungary. During the war he was in Buchenwald, Germany. ”

Buchenwald camp maintains a memorial website with a page for each victim. Samuel’s page notes that he was in ‘Dora’. This list was only just published in 2010.

Dora means Mittelbau-Dora, a subcamp of Buchenwald. This camp was created in 1943 out of a need for an underground, secret location in which to develop the A4 rocket. Initially, these rockets were being manufactured in Peenemunde. Allied attacks by air raid made it necessary for the Nazis to bring manufacturing underground, in secrecy. They were to be built in tunnels at Dora, constructed in 1943.  Jews were deported to Mittelbau-Dora beginning in May of 1944.

1944 also brought official barracks for the laborers, a slight improvement in living conditions.  Dora initially had no barracks, and laborers lived in tunnels of the planned underground factory, created for the construction of A4 rockets in secrecy. The inmates lived in chambers of the tunnel, with four-tiered wooden bunks and sawed-off oil barrels as latrines. Nearly 2900 inmates died between October 1943 and March 1944.

Samuel died on September 24, 1944, laboring at Dora. RIP, Samuel.

VIDEO: Liberation of Dora-Mittelbau (USHMM)

 

 

 

 

 

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