Survivor Profiles: Matus Stolov
I learned from myself and maybe from my mother that in order to survive… in order to go to the better life you have to do something… you have to be responsible for doing something better for your life yourself.
Matus Stolov was born in Minsk, Belarussia, in 1928, the son of Polish Jewish parents who had fled to Russia after the 1917 revolution to build a socialist utopia. He had one older brother, Boris. In 1936, Matus’ father died of natural causes. Under Soviet laws, all expressions of Jewish life ended in 1934, so Matus received no religious education growing up. In 1941, Germany invaded Minsk, and a ghetto was built around the Jewish section of the city. Boris was able to escape, but Matus and his mother were forced to live with another family. Routine actions took place in the ghetto where Jews were taken out and shot in mass executions. Matus and his mother survived this by hiding with the help of a Christian friend named “Big” Yelena. In 1942, “Big” Yelena arranged for Matus and his mother to be smuggled out of the ghetto by partisans. In 1942, they crossed the front lines and settled in Kazan. They were liberated in June 1945 and returned to Minsk. After liberation, Matus and his mother received a notice that Boris has been killed in combat while serving in the Red Army. After the war, Matus finished University, where he was studying to become a mechanical engineer. In 1952, he maried Victoria, a woman from Minsk he had known since grade school. In the early 1980s, Matus was able to immigrate to the United States after ten years of trying to leave the Soviet Union. The Stolov family arrived in Chicago in April 1982, on the second day of Passover, and celebrated their first Seder. Matus and Victoria had one daughter.
His powerful story will continue to be heard by visitors as part of the Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience.