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"SZT" 2006 Obituary


SZTANKOVITS o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-01-24 published
(June 20, 1931-January 21, 2006)
Of Runnymede Healthcare Centre. Arrangement strictly private. Anna is survived by husband Sandor.

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SZTEYN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-11-09 published
Theodore STEIN, Holocaust Survivor: (1918-2006)
Successful immigrant bore no ill will toward Canada even though it refused entry to his parents, who died in the camps
By Ron CSILLAG, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S7
Theodore (Ted) STEIN's life began to unravel 68 years ago tonight. Of course, there had been stark warnings that went mostly unheeded. This Hitler is just a nut; he will pass. We are Austrians, after all, and secular. We will be all right. You'll see.
The delusion that gripped countless others in Vienna's 170,000-strong Jewish community had seeped its way into the STEIN household, despite the fact that by the autumn of 1938, the Nazi swastika flew in every corner of the city. It had been eight months since the Anschluss ingested Austria into the Third Reich.
The beginning of the end for Mr. STEIN -- indeed, all European Jewry -- took place on the night of November 9, 1938, when Nazi storm troopers and local hooligans, emboldened by news of the assassination of a German official in Paris -- by a Jew -- took to the streets. In dozens of German and Austrian cities, synagogues were torched and the windows of Jewish-owned homes and businesses smashed. The event would take its name from the terrifying scenes on the formerly grand boulevards: Kristallnacht -- the Night of Broken Glass.
Officials arrested some 6,000 Austrian Jews, deporting them to Dachau. Among them was Mr. STEIN's father, Jacob. Only those who promised to emigrate immediately, leaving their property behind, were released. Twenty-seven Austrian Jews were murdered in the pogrom.
Mr. STEIN, then a 20-year-old man-about-town who frequented the theatre and opera, was arrested on the steps of his family's flat and hauled to a local school for processing. An SS sergeant put him in charge of stoking a wood stove. Mr. STEIN bent over to do so. "You showed your ass to me!" the Nazi bellowed, and proceeded to administer a ferocious beating to the young man. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. The scenario played out several more times before the officer relented.
The STEINs had been highly assimilated, acculturated and were well-to-do merchants who had owned two lighting-fixture shops in Vienna before they were confiscated. Regina STEIN, the clan's matriarch, bribed officials to get her husband out of Dachau and her son into Switzerland. Her daughter had already escaped to Palestine.
The Swiss promptly dumped Mr. STEIN back into Austria. But his luck changed just two weeks before the Second World War broke out in September, 1939, when he was among thousands of Jewish refugees taken in by Britain.
In London, he worked briefly for British intelligence, transcribing German messages that were later decoded.
Back in Vienna, Mr. STEIN's parents were desperate. They wrote to officials in Canada, reporting that they had been "left without means of assistance and with no possibility of earning a living." They were stateless and penniless and begged to come to this country. "Our distress… increases daily and there is nothing left for us but suicide.… Our only hope for survival is admission to Canada."
But, as detailed in the book None is Too Many, from which the above quote is taken, Ottawa's policy on admitting Jewish refugees was dismal, and the STEINs were turned down. Regina STEIN perished at Treblinka, her husband at Auschwitz.
Their son, meanwhile, was admitted to Canada in the summer of 1940 as a friendly prisoner of war, and he spent four years in an internment camp outside Quebec City. He was then sent to work on a farm near Hamilton, but hated it, and said as much to a stranger who picked him up while hitchhiking. The man drove Mr. STEIN to Toronto, where he was lent $35 by the United Jewish Refugee and War Relief Agency.
He lived in an unheated ground-floor apartment and worked at a plastics company for $13 a week. "Too much to die, too little to live," said his wife of 60 years, Patricia. He spent the next 20 years in a series of business ventures, including children's clothing and hosiery, before finding a place in real estate at the age of 50.
"He had a flair for it," remarked his wife. "He was tenacious, you know. But boy, did he work hard."
Like many who survived that era, Mr. STEIN was resolutely determined to make it in the country that took him in, despite the fact that Canada admitted a paltry 5,000 Jewish refugees from 1933 to 1945. "He harboured no ill will," said his son, Jeffrey. "He loved Canada."
The family is now busy wading through a small mound of war-era documents, many emblazoned with the Nazi eagle-and-swastika rubber stamp, and some in the name of "Theodore Israel SZTEYN," referencing the middle name the Nazis forced Jews to take (it was Sarah for women).
"My father never regarded himself as a victim," his son said. "He used to say that if the Holocaust hadn't happened, he would have become a bum. He said the Holocaust made him a man."
Theodore STEIN was born in Vienna on August 13, 1918. He died in Toronto of Parkinson's Disease on October 22. He was 88. He leaves his wife Patricia, son Jeffrey and four grandchildren.

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