23 June, 1918 – 8 May, 2020
Iryna Mykhaylivna Shul was born in an Ukrainian family in Galicia which belonged to the Habsburg empire at the time of her birth and later to Poland. She experienced German occupation twice, 1939 in Lviv and 1941 in Kyiv during a student internship. To avoid the German terror, she headed back home to Przemyśl where she worked as an accountant assistant and, at the same time, got engaged in the underground resistance. Therefore, Iryna Shul was arrested and incarcerated in Lviv, from where she was taken to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. After a few months, the SS transferred her to the subcamp in Zwodau (Svatava) that had been under the administration of Flossenbürg since 1 September, 1944. She was forced to work in the armament production until the day of her liberation on 7 May, 1945.
“To me, the liberation in Zwodau was the fulfilment of my boldest dreams. Finally the war was over, finally I was allowed to hope to return to my family and to resume my studies. I was allowed to live as a free human being and no longer as a prisoner number! It was a boundless pleasure to be free!”
Nevertheless she was anxious to return back home, because former concentration camp prisoners and POWs had to undergo a so-called filtration on entering the Soviet Union. For that reason she withheld her imprisonment and stated that she had worked as an accountant in a Polish village. She married a friend’s brother in 1947 and had two children. Only shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union, she decided to tell her story. Even her children did not know about her past.
Mrs Shul regularly travelled to commemorations in the Ravensbrück Memorial Museum, but visited Flossenbürg for the first time in 2019, at 100 years of age, to participate in the 74th anniversary of the liberation and to visit the former subcamp Zwodau for the first time since being liberated there.
Having met her, full of energy and vitality, was a huge enrichment for the whole Memorial team. We send out our sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Dr. Jörg Skriebeleit and the staff of Flossenbürg Memorial