About the Four Women
Alma was born in 1927 in the town Arciechów, near Warsaw, Poland to a family of farmers. She was the oldest of three daughters. She attended school for eight years, but her education was interrupted by the World War II and her family had to flee to West Germany. After the family's exile, she worked many different jobs: she was a cleaning maid in a hospital, and then, a housekeeper and helper on several farms in West Germany.
Prior to World War I, her father had lived in the United-States of America during thirteen years. He fled to Cleveland to avoid being drafted into the Russian Army. His experience left a strong impression on Alma.
In January 1951, at the age of twenty-four, Alma emigrated to Vancouver on her own. Her aunt, who already lived in British Columbia, vouched for her and prepaid her boat fare. For the first two and a half years she worked as a housekeeper in two Jewish households. In 1953, she married a German bricklayer who immigrated three years before her. The couple bought a house and rented out three rooms to single men. Through this arrangement, she ran the boarding house.
Anneliese was born on April 16th, 1924 in Merseburg, Germany, west of Leipzig. Her parents were Anna and Otto W. The middle-class family had a business, and she and her brother Werner had a wonderful childhood in Merseburg. During World War II, at the age of fourteen, Annaliese undertook a six-week training with the red cross to work as a nurse. At the end of the war, she had no home to return to; her brother and both her parents had died in the war. After the war was over, she completed a one-year program and became a registered nurse. On September 23rd, 1953, at the age of 29, she emigrated to Canada by ship, on the Beaverbrae. She then took a train west to Vancouver. There, she worked as a domestic servant in a wealthy household for approximately three months before taking a position as a nurse’s aid at the Vancouver General Hospital. After some time, she took a position working at the Miller Bay Indian Hospital, because she wanted to get to know and work with Indigenous People. She met her husband Harvey L. and they were married shortly after. He was an Air Canada flight attendant and they made use of the perks flying all over the world for free. They had four children and Annaliese reentered the workforce and became a practical nurse with another year of training. She lived in Surrey, B.C., until her death on July 30th, 2018.
Barbara was born in Alt Reichenau, Silesia, now Poland on October 18th, 1926, to Gertud and Arthur S. Her father was a musician, cantor in the local church and teacher and her mother was a homemaker. Barbara was educated until the eighth grade, after which she trained to become a potter for two years in Silesia and then for another two years after World War II in Garmisch in East Germany. On December 7th, 1951, Barbara emigrated from Germany, boarding the boat, Atlantic from Genoa to Halifax. From there she took a train to Vancouver and was put up in a boarding house with two other German couples, as part of a government program.
She worked as a housemaid during three months and then as a dishwasher and potato peeler in a Squamish hospital while training as a nurse’s aide. She relocated to Vancouver, where she worked as a potter for David Lambert. In 1955, she met and married Jack B., a dutchman who had immigrated from Amsterdam in 1950. Together, they adopted two children and Barbara became a successful potter.
Lisa was born in Kassel (West Germany) in 1923. After high school, she went to a business school for one year, attended a women’s college for one year and then had to serve in the work service during the Third Reich. Between 1941 and 1943 she was trained as a technologist at Siemens in Berlin, and worked in that job. She immigrated to Vancouver in November 1951, but couldn’t find a job as a technologist, so had to go into domestic service in West Vancouver for five months. After that she worked in low-paid jobs in several factories. She married in September 1953 and stayed home for three years to attend to her sick child, born in 1954. Shortly before her husband died in 1957, just three years after her marriage, she returned to the paid work force and worked on the assembly line of an electronics factory, where she was promoted as technician after her husband’s death.