Stella's father was responsible for collecting dead bodies from the streets in the Cracow ghetto during WWII. When Stella’s grandfather died a natural death in the ghetto, he buried his father, then came home, and shared his feelings about it with the family.
Stella Madej (née Miller) was born in 1930 in Cracow, Poland, in a family that had a business in real estate. Her father was a Polish patriot, member of Pilsudski battalions. When the war started in Poland and all Jews of Cracow were forced into a ghetto, Stella's father became a ghetto policeman. He tried to help people as much as he could and was very much respected. Following liquidation of the Crakow ghetto, Stella and her family were deported to the Krakau-Plaszow labor camp. While in the camp, Stella worked in a factory owned by Oscar Schindler. When the family was transferred to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau death camp in fall 1944, Schindler was able to have them released and transferred to the Brünnlitz labor camp in Czechoslovakia. Stella was liberated in Brünnlitz by the Soviet armed forces in May 1945. Stella and her family survived the Holocaust and returned to Cracow after the liberation.