When stumbling stones were laid for Ida and Alice Wielzynski, very little was known about the two women. Later, however, information gathered from the Commemorative Book pointed to further details of their lives: their dates of birth, date of deportation to Theresienstadt and their address, Krausnick Straße 8.
But it was not until the fate of the infant Berl Hirschfeld (see Berl Hirschfeld) was researched that these two women’s identities became clearer. Berl Hirschfeld was deported aged just five months from Krausnick Straße 8, on the same transport as Ida and Alice Wielzynski. He had clearly been in their care. But no information could be found on a Wielzynski family, either in the Berlin directories or in any sources on victims of Nazism. A search for a woman named Hirschfeld who might have had a baby in 1942 yielded the name Dorothea Hirschfeld, whose maiden name had been Mielzynski. Further research showed that the surnames of Ida and Alice had been incorrectly written and that they were in fact also named Mielzynski.
Ida Mielzynski was born on 1 November 1881 in Gnesen (now Gniezno, Poland) in what was then the Prussian province of Posen. She was the daughter of Sally Budzilawski and his wife Adele, née Löwenthal. After leaving middle school, she trained as a sales assistant. She married Robert Mielzynski, a tailor, in Berlin, and had three daughters: Alice (1905), Dorothea (1908) and Babette (1912). The family lived at Immanuelkirch Straße 31 before moving to an apartment at the back of the courtyard at Marienburger Straße 2. The Mielzynski family is not listed in the Berlin directories between 1920 and 1925, indicating that they probably lived as subtenants. From 1926 on, Robert Mielzynski is entered in the directory as the owner of a uniform tailor’s shop in Wedding. From 1933 to 1938 he is listed as a master tailor, resident at Wiesen Straße 15; his wife Ida had probably moved to Linien Straße 239 by that time.
Their youngest daughter Babette married Hans Hoier, an “Aryan”, in May 1933. Babette managed to escape with their 4-year-old daughter Ingrid to England, where her husband was waiting for them. Later they settled in Australia.
In June 1938, during the Nazis’ “anti-workshy” campaign (Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich), Ida’s husband Robert Mielzynski was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp. This campaign of arrests, also known as the “June action”, targeted over 9000 men, some 2300 of whom were Jewish, whom the Nazis categorized as “asocial” due to minor offences they had committed, such as violating traffic or foreign exchange regulations. Robert Mielzynski was transferred from Buchenwald to Natzweiler concentration camp in March 1942 and held in Dachau concentration camp from August to October 1942. On 19 October 1942, he was deported to Auschwitz, where he died one month later.
At the time of the 1939 population census, Ida Mielzynski was living with her daughters, Alice and Dorothea, and Dorothea’s husband, Martin Hirschfeld, at Linien Straße 239. She had apparently lived there since 1933, when a “Frau I. Mielzynski” was first entered as resident there in the Berlin directory. The family’s last, probably not voluntarily chosen, place of residence was Krausnick Straße 8.
Ida’s son-in-law Martin Hirschfeld had been a long-term employee of the Jewish Community and was working in the Große Hamburger Straße assembly camp at the time of the deportations. In February 1943, when the Nazis carried out their “factory campaign” (Fabrik-Aktion), he managed to save his sister-in-law Alice Mielzynski from deportation. However, in May 1943, there was obviously nothing more he could do: Alice and Ida Mielzynski were deported to Theresienstadt. Five-month-old Berl Hirschfeld, the son of Martin and Dorothea Hirschfeld, was deported with them. His mother was in hospital at the time. In Theresienstadt, Ida Mielzynski looked after her small grandson. She had been assigned work in the infant nursery, performing all the household duties and supervising and caring for the children. Her accommodation was a cramped and overcrowded attic.
In August 1943, Ida’s daughter Dorothea and her husband Martin arrived in Theresienstadt. They lived in the ghetto for over a year until they were deported, together with their 2-year-old son, on 6 October 1944 to Auschwitz and murdered.
Ida Mielzynski survived Theresienstadt, as did her daughter Alice. Himmler and the former Swiss premier Musy made an agreement that resulted in the offer of 1200 prisoners in Theresienstadt being released to Switzerland. Alice and Ida Mielzynski volunteered to go, albeit skeptically. They boarded the train destined for Switzerland on 5 February 1945. As they approached the Swiss border, they could rip off their yellow stars. They reached St. Gallen on 7 February 1945.
Ida Mielzynski spent three years living in various reception camps and refugee homes. Suffering from a heart condition, she joined her daughter Babette in Australia on 14 June 1948. She died here on 6 August 1949. Her daughter Alice married Marcel Monnier, a Swiss man, in December 1945 and lived with him in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. In 1946 she gave birth to a son. She died on 30 June 1990.