Minkinow recounts Holocaust fear, escape to Bob Jones audience
MADISON – While banished to the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II, Stan Minkinow remembers praying nightly to ‘wake up and be a German boy’ so his family could be safe and healthy.
Minkinow shared his experience with about 90 Bob Jones High School students.
Robin Dauma, honors and advanced-placement English teacher, integrates a Holocaust study with Elie Wiesel’s, “Night.” Dauma met Minkinow 15 years ago while teaching his granddaughter Anna at Discovery Middle School.
Since 1999, Dauma and Anna have stayed in contact. Dauma’s students interview Minkinow annually.
Stan was Alexander and Sophia Minkinow’s only child. When Stan was nine years old, Gestapo soldiers forced his family to leave their middle-class home in Lodz, Poland and deported them to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.
Existing among thousands displaced by Nazis, the Minkinows endured hunger, cold and fear of deportation to concentration camps. Many either died in the ghettos or were shipped to camps.
“The Minkinows escaped the Warsaw Ghetto by bribing a guard and fleeing to a village in the Polish countryside and renting an apartment in someone else’s name,” Dauma said.
Stan’s father was Christian, his mother Jewish. His father was arrested and imprisoned briefly for involvement in the exiled Polish government. “Later, the family was reunited in Berlin. After the war, they spent time in a displaced persons camp,” Dauma said.
“Stan joined the U.S. military in 1948 after seeing an Army recruiting film in Berlin. He had a distinguished 27-year military career and settled in Huntsville after he retired,” she said. In 1981, he founded Alexander’s Jewelry in Huntsville. One of Minkinow’s three children, Kim, works there.
“What did you eat? What did you do all day?,” Bob Jones students asked Minkinow. Some questioned his past and present philosophy — “Did you as a child realize what was happening? How have you staved off resentment toward the Nazis?”
Is ISIS committing Nazi-esque violence, others asked.
Dauma believes contemporary resources can “support passionate teaching of events leading to the Holocaust and … its atrocities.”