Ruth Bileski Winterfeld is of German nationality. Her, along with her siblings, were born in an apartment located in Berlin to a father, who was a Jewish war hero, and mother, who worked as a housewife. While she was raised in the Jewish faith, her mother converted to Christianity to protect her children.
After World War II had broken out, her family’s household was heavily bombed. Her family was only able to salvage photo albums. While they never returned to the ruined apartment complex, the memory lives on as beloved, safe sanctuary embedded in her childhood. Throughout her teenage years, she reffered ot her self as a “Geltunsjude,” meaning half Jewish. The anti-sematic German population saw fault in her belief system, despite receiving religious training by a Catholic priest throughout the 1930s.
In early 1943, her family was taken by the Gestalt, who were targeting Jewish-German citizens. This action later sparked the Rosenstrasse Protest. Winterfeld was singled out and chosen to work as a secretary for a prominent figure in medicine, Dr. Lustig. Throughout which, she was assigned to type out a list of names, which later turned out to be the individuals who were deported during the Rosenstrasse Protest. She was then forced into factory labor alongside 300 other women.
Winterfeld was liberated by the Soviets. In 1946, she married an Italian OB/GYN doctor at a Synagogue of a Jewish Hospital.
Written by Emma Rieser