Stanley (Szulim, Stanislaw) Dembinski

Stanley was born in Warsaw, Poland - the third of five children. At the age of ten, his father died and Stanley was placed in the Warsaw Jewish Orphanage run by the renowned Dr. Janusz Korczak. Stanley loved the orphanage, and Dr. Korczak, and enjoyed many activities including playing the mandolin in the orchestra.  At fourteen, when the orphans had to go on their own, he found a job at a pharmacy which led to his profession as a pharmacist. When he turned 18 he was drafted into the Polish army where he worked as a medic in the military hospital in Warsaw.

In September 1939, when the Germans invaded Warsaw, Stanley was captured and taken as a prisoner of war (POW) to various Stalags (POW camps) in Poland, Germany, and Austria, including a POW camp in an old Russian castle in Deblin, Poland where he was imprisoned in a dungeon. After some time, the Nazis decided that Jews would not be treated as POWs under the Geneva Convention, so they released them back to their countries of origin. Stanley came back to Warsaw to find his mother living in the Ghetto, his oldest sister and her baby had been shot to death on the street, and his other siblings had fled to Siberia. One day, from a distance, he saw his mother being loaded onto a wagon.  She shouted for him to hide so he hid on rooftops - jumping from one roof to another as Nazis were shooting people off the roofs. His mother, just like his beloved Dr. Korczak (and his then-current orphans), were deported to Treblinka where they were all murdered

After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, Stanley and his wife, Maria, were hiding in a bunker in the basement of a building when they were betrayed, captured and sent to Majdanek, a concentration camp in Lublin, Poland, where Maria died from dysentery.  Stanley was later imprisoned in a series of concentration and death camps including Krakow-Płaszów, Skarżysko-Kamienna, Częstochowa, and Sulejów, which were all in Poland, and then Buchenwald and Stassfurt, which were in Germany.  As the Germans retreated, they took their Jewish prisoners, including Stanley, on death marches. However, the Russian Army overcame the retreating Germans and Stanley was liberated near Annaberg, Germany on May 8, 1945

After the war, Stanley returned to Warsaw. Unable to find any family there, he traveled on top of a train for three days and nights to a small town in northwestern Poland where he had heard the mayor was helping to resettle survivors. The mayor became his future wife - Szulim married Masza, who was also a survivor, in 1945. In 1946, by chance,  Stanley was reunited with his three siblings who had survived the war in Siberia and had just returned to Poland. To escape communism and anti-Semitism in Poland, Stanley and his family, which by then included two daughters, immigrated to the United States and settled in Rochester, New York in 1966.  Stanley and Masha had 63 very happy years together.

Written by:

   Paulina (Dembinski) Kovalsky, daughter

   Shaina Kovalsky, granddaughter

Szulim Dembinski (seated left with mandolin) about 1930 in Dr. Janusz Korczak’s Orphanage orchestra. Photo: Yad Vashem

Jan. 20, 1945. Stanley's intake document into Buchenwald. His actual signature on the bottom right and prisoner numer is at the top right: 116.426. Source: ITS

May 23, 1945 Annaberg, Germany. Stanley’s liberation from Buchenwald document

Dec. 1945, Ludwikowice Klodzkie, Poland. Stanley & Masha shortly after their wedding. Stanley could play any instrument by ear. Masha had an operatic voice.