Marie Sturm

Life in Prague During German Occupation

Marie Sturm was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in June 1925. Marie was an only child and lived with her mother who worked for the postal service and her father who was a craftsman. Her father fabricated glass signs and restored wood furniture in a highly skilled fashion of the time - transforming the wood to appear as a different type of wood.

After the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, the high schools were closed. During this period, Marie, like many other students, continued her education through private tutoring which allowed her to earn her degree. Marie was required by the Germans to work and she was placed in a munitions factory one and a half hours away from her home. The work hours were very long and the commuting very difficult. The entire experience was extremely difficult for Marie. Marie’s mother had managed to save a large quantity of cooking oil with which she was able to barter an arrangement allowing Marie to work closer to home.

Marie stayed with her family in Prague, through the dark years of World War II and the early years of Russian occupation which also proved very difficult. In 1948, one of her uncles who had become successful in the United States, arranged for her to come and complete her studies at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y. This American uncle and her aunt then tragically died 6 months after Marie’s arrival in the U.S. In spite of barely speaking English, Marie finished her studies at St. Lawrence University and went on to get her masters in social work from Boston University. At "Czech Night", at the International Institute in Boston, she met her future husband Rudolf Sturm. Rudolf, also Czech, had returned to Czechoslovakia after the war, but remained only a little over a year due to the terrible challenges caused by the Russian occupation. Marie and Rudolf were married in 1954 and moved to Saratoga Springs in 1968 where Rudolf taught at Skidmore College. Marie retired after 35 years as the Senior Social Worker of the Schenectady City Schools.

The following are recorded memories of Marie’s wartime and post-war experiences and her early years in the United States.

On Being Jewish in Prague

On Food Rationing

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