Born on October 6, 1932, Stan was the only child of a Jewish mother and a Greek Orthodox father who converted to Judaism. Living a very comfortable, non-religious life, Stan watched from the sidelines as Jews, including his wealthy maternal grandfather, Hein, were transported to the Lodz Ghetto. Stan’s family was temporarily spared by claiming Russian heritage. Two years later, on January 13, 1942, they were taken as well, able to bring only the coats on their backs. As a convert, Stan’s father could have remained on the outside, but chose to stay with his family. Stan remembers being received by the Chairman of the Jewish Council, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, moving into his grandfather’s small room, and having to wear the Star of David for the first time.
Rumor had it that if you had money, you could buy anything in the Warsaw Ghetto, so this was the preferred place to be. The Minkinows bribed their way out of the Lodz Ghetto for $300 in gold. Stan recalls the SS using dogs and whips to hurry the prisoners onto the trucks that would transport them to Warsaw. His father shielded him and his mother by climbing on top of them.
The family made a daring escape from the Warsaw Ghetto. Without even a suitcase, they approached the gate guarded by three policemen: one Jewish, one Polish, and the third, German. Stan’s father showed the German his passport, while his mother showed the Pole a booklet with cash inside. The family fled to the village of Radość, outside Warsaw, renting an apartment using their maid’s last name and living as Poles.
After the Russians liberated Poland, Stan’s father was arrested for his involvement with the Polish government in exile. After a year, in yet another escape, Stan’s mother bribed a Polish guard to take her husband to Berlin. Stan recalls hearing gun shots as he and his mother were smuggled across the border sometime later. For a short time after the war, the family lived in a DP camp in Berlin. Stan learned that is grandfather, Hein, had died at Auschwitz.
In 1948, working and attending school in Bad Reichenhall near Munich, Stan saw a U.S. Army recruiting film. Unable to speak English, but ready for a new challenge, he enlisted in the US military, earning his American citizenship under the Lodge Act. He met his wife, Doris Elaine, at a U.S.O. dance, and in 1955 they were married and later had three children. Stan completed a distinguished twenty-seven year Army career and retired to Huntsville, Alabama, where he opened Alexander’s Jewelry.
Addendum: Stan Minkinow passed away on August 29, 2020.