Auschwitz survivor Guta Strykowski Cohen dies at 84

An Auschwitz survivor who lost her entire family in the camps, and was active at two San Francisco synagogues, has died.

Guta Strykowski Cohen died Sunday, Jan. 22. She was 84.

Guta Weintraub was born Jan. 15, 1922 in Lodz, Poland. Her father was in the shoe business, and she was the third — and only girl — of four children.

From the Lodz ghetto, she was sent to several concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

After she was liberated, she was entirely alone, as all her family had been killed. She married Abram Strykoswski in 1946 in Poland, and in 1950 they arrived in the United States, settling in San Francisco.

At first, they joined the Webster Street Shul, but they moved a few years later and joined both Congregation Adath Israel and Congregation Ner Tamid.

Esther Kaplan, Cohen’s daughter, said her mother was more traditional than either Conservative or Orthodox. Her parents kept a kosher home and didn’t drive on Saturday, but they went to activities at both synagogues.

Cohen was also active with the Bikkur Cholim society, visiting the sick.

She worked as a cook and in the catering business, and also often volunteered to help cook at various synagogue functions.

Kaplan described her mother as a proud person who didn’t talk much about her experiences, though she did talk about her three brothers who had been killed.

Though she thought she lost her entire family, in 1980 she learned that a few cousins had survived the war. She and her husband went to Israel then to visit them.

Cohen’s husband Abram Strykowski died in 1978, and in 1980, she married Alex Cohen.

In addition to her husband and daughter Esther Kaplan, both of San Francisco, Cohen is survived by son David Strykowski of Orinda and four grandchildren.

Donations can be made to Congregation Adath Israel, 1851 Noriega St., San Francisco, CA 94122 or Congregation Ner Tamid, 1250 Quintara St., San Francisco, CA 94116.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."