Leo Smoliansky was born on 28 June 1907 in Heydekrug, the son of Lene and Meyer Smoliansky. Leo worked in Munich (Munchen, Germany) in the Hermann Tietz Dept Store.
On Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) Jewish males were arrested and some were put into KZ Dachau. Leo spent 10 weeks in Dachau (from November 10, 1938 until January 20, 1939). Leo’s mother (Lene) in Heydekrug somehow got in touch with cousins in Texas, USA, who sent affidavits which facilitated his release from the KZ Dachau. On the strength of the affidavits, the British issued a visa for Leo and he was then interned at the Kitchener Camp in Kent, England, in 1939.
Between 1941 and 1944, Leo’s parents and three sisters (Erna, Selma, Becka) perished in the holocaust: in the Slebotka Ghetto in Kaunas, Lithuania, and in the Stutthof concentration camp.
There were many Jewish males from Germany who ended up in England and every Jew had a “J” in their German passport. The British were concerned that the Germans would send spies with a “J” in their passports so they sent the Jewish men to Australia or Canada. Leo was sent aboard the SS Sobiecki boat to Canada in 1940 to an internment camp in Ile-Aux-Noix, Quebec.
Leo was finally released in 1942 and once settled in Canada, he worked in textile retail. He married Mary Acomsky and they had two sons. At birth, both sons were given the last name Smoley for fear Jews would be discriminated against again.
Leo passed away in November 1986 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, at the age of 79, and is remembered as a great soul, always patient, and always a gentleman.
Submitted by the Smoley family for Leo Smoliansky
In relation to the Smoliansky family history, while these do not pertain to Kitchener camp, there are some very informative interviews available as follows:
At USHMM online, there is a substantial interview with Naftal Sieff, born October 24, 1924 in Schwekschna, Lithuania. Naftal is the husband of one of Leo’s cousins – Hanna Smoliansky. It covers a number of topics including the German occupation of Lithuania, transport to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the dismantling of the Warsaw ghetto following the uprising, the death march to Dachau, and liberation (Conditions on Access: No restrictions on access. Conditions on Use: Restrictions on use. Permission must be obtained from the University of Sydney, Archive of Australian Judaica for any type of use other than research.)
The USC Shoah Foundation have another family testimony, given by one of Leo’s cousins, Alfred Smoliansky. This concerns life in Gleiwitz before emigration, and life in Shanghai during the war, of which a number of KC families have experience.
The USC Shoah Foundation have a third family testimony – for Gad Small/Kurt Smoliansky – another of Leo’s cousins. This interview discusses school and family years in Gleiwitz, the November 1938 round-ups to Buchenwald, the process of release from Buchenwald, the enforced sale of the family business, and life in Palestine.