Title: Interview with Vera Freifeld
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072021/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Vera Freifeld
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: February 14, 2002
Subject: Second World War, 1939-1945
World War II, 1939-1945
Temporal Coverage: World War II ( 1939 - 1945 )
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00072021
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'World War II' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: WWII 9

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Full Text


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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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D: This is the interview of Vera Freifeld on February 14, 2002, at the Atrium in
Gainesville, Florida. The interviewer is Sandra Dietel. Can you tell me what was
your given name when you were born?

F: I was called Vera.

D: What was your last name?

F: Perirenika.

D: Where you were born.

F: I was born in Kuriswag.

D: Where is that?

F: Kuriswag is in Transylvania. It [had] about [a] 120,000 population. It has
become larger, but when I went back for a visit, it was 1,000,000 population.

D: So it grew, a lot.

F: It grew. They put people [in] nicer houses, like
Russians were there.

D: We're going to get to that later in the interview.

for the workers because the

Can you tell me your date of

F: Yes, I was [born] May 31, 1916.

D: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

F: We were four.

D: Were they older or younger?

F: One brother was younger.

D: What was his name?

F: Octavious Morglasaur. He is in the San Fernando Valley and he has three
children, three beautiful children. My other brother was killed. He was in Atner,
the Jewish kids had [to do] forced labor. He was in the Hungarian army line and
the Russian was against. He was watching, listening to the Russians a lot
because that was the only interesting station he could get. He didn't want to die,
so he tried to escape into Hungary and that's the way he died.

Freifeld Page 2

D: Do you know what year that was?

F: That was maybe 1941.

D: 1941, so he was still pretty young.

F: Yes, he was twenty-nine or thirty, [about] that age.

D: How about your sisters?

F: My sister, first of all, my sister was married, not to a Jew. She was a very not-
Jewish. She was trying to stay with the religious people. Before the war would
start heavily, this guy was after her about ten years and she decided she [would]
marry him.

D: What was her name?

F: I really don't know. I know he was Jew or what.

D: No, what was your sister's name?

F: Margaret.

D: Margaret.

F: Margaret Claval. She married him and she moved to his house. I don't know
exactly the years, I forgot. But I know it was Hungary. It was Romania until

D: Okay. 1940?

F: Until 1940, Hungary was Romania and then the Hungarians came in 1940. He
gave it to the Hungarians back. 1918, [it] became Romania. In 1940, it was
given back. The people, the old people, spoke only Hungarian because that's
the way that people grew up.

D: What did you speak?

F: I was speaking Hungarian, but I started when I was six years old, I started to go
to school and they taught us Romanian.

D: Did you speak both languages?

F: I speak, but the Romanian is kind of missed, you know. I didn't practice it too
much because I had no chance to because everybody spoke Hungarian and the

Freifeld Page 3

police on the market, on the green market, the police was going giving tickets for
the people, they should speak Romanian.

D: They should speak Romanian.

F: But you can't do that. You can't just read a photograph and do it. You have to
practice it.

D: Right. What were your parents' names?

F: My father was Ela Lazar and my mother's name was Fernie Lazar.

D: Can you describe your family while you were growing up?

F: My father comes from a family of nine children.

D: Wow.

F: Was eight girls and one boy. He was the youngest boy. He was spoiled
because he really didn't try to work too hard.

D: Even when he had children?

F: He had children and my mother did everything, did housework, did like she could
give massages and she could help like somebody falls down or gets muscle
strain, she could heal it. Help massage it. She did cleaning and whatever she
could. She even made, I remember, lemonade and put on the table and sell it.

D: Did she contribute most of the money?

F: My father was usel, he was a Jewish teacher. He was applying for work, places,
different cities and he always was late for it. He didn't. His suite was, I don't
know, they put him in that short place to sleep. He had problems with his sleep.
He was always late for his job. He was learning [to play with] a ball with the
ribbon you know. You play that.

D: Like a yo-yo?

F: Yo-yo. He was doing that. He went to the market. I don't know. That was I

D: Was your family very religious?

F: My mother was doing whatever she had to do. You know fire, he think their
homes with firewood. Jews don't make no fire, don't light no matches on the

Freifeld Page 4

Sabbath. She did that, it was good, but I can't let my children to stay in cold
house. So if she had to go with money, she was. My father was very Jewish.

D: Were you religious as a child in Ganya?

F: It was in me.

D: It was part of your life.

F: Yes, that was the way it should be.

D: When did you start to work?

F: I know that when I was twelve and a half years old or thirteen, something in
there, I was understanding that only [with] money you can survive. In the corner
of our block was a factory, a comb factory.

D: For hair? Combs for hair?

F: For hair. I went to get a job.

D: What did you do?

F: They hired me. It was so hard on my hands but I did it. I made thirteen laia.

D: How much would that be today? A quarter a day?

F: Probably.

D: What are your memories of your town before the war, right before the war?

F: It was so scary you know. I was working there with my sister in a sweater
[factory]. I made sweaters.

D: So after you worked in the comb factory...

F: That was when I was [13] in 1942, how old was I?

D: You were twenty-eight, about twenty-eight years old?

F: No, 1940? 1938, those are the days before it was very scary. [In] 1938. I was
sixteen, eighteen years old. I was working with my sister in a factory. I was
working there for about five years. It was scary because we didn't know we were
at war. We didn't know, we heard that they're taking the people who get in.

Freifeld Page 5

Many trains drive by in our city with the Jewish people. They're taking us to
Poland, to Auschwitz. It was very scary.

D: So did you know at that time... you knew that they were going to Auschwitz?

F: Yes. We knew that they are killing them.

D: How did you know that?

F: Because the newspaper and the radio. We did not have television, but we had
radio. Just as real as television today.

D: Was that about 1941-1942?

F: No, it was already in the [19]30's.

D: Oh, late [19]30's.

F: Yes.

D: So it was before Romania went to Hungary.

F: Yes, before it was Hungary. We worked on seven to seven, even those... space
in full time was ready. We had to be very rushing with that to send it to the
stores. That's before my sister got married. My sister didn't want to stay with my
father in that same house.

D: Did she not get along with him?

F: No. So we were separated from my father. My mother died, 1933. Then the two
brothers who are staying with us, we were four of us.

D: Your sister was living with her husband?

F: She was not.

D: Not yet.

F: Not yet, no.

D: Do you have any other memories? So you would see the trains going by
carrying Jews.

F: Yes, the Jews went and they were screaming we don't know where we're going.

Freifeld Page 6

D: So you could hear them?

F: Yes, we don't know where we're going from.

D: What did you think about that?

F: It was very scary, very scary. Myself, my sister was married, I took a girl from my
place to stay with me. Friday I was still working in the factory where I made
those sweaters. Monday morning when I got up, it was the police there waiting
for me.

D: So they were waiting for you outside your home? No wait, outside of your work.

F: At the door, outside at the door, just like would stay here. I shouldn't be able to
get away. They just put my things, nothing.

D: You weren't allowed to take anything with you?

F: Well, maybe I don't remember that I have anything because I didn't take dishes
or linen or maybe a nightgown or something, nothing.

D: What was the situation? What was it like between Jews and non-Jews in the city
where you lived?

F: You know, there was situations before. They already were picking up people on
the street. One day I didn't go to work because I had a cold. The girls who
weren't Jewish, they were so scared that something happened to me.
Somebody took me. They rushed... I worked on a big machine like on that wall,
not exactly it. A big one.

D: About twenty feet long? Twenty-five feet?

F: Number twelve stool was the name on the machine. They were coming with the
dirty, oily hand and knocking on them. They were just running. What happened
to me. They were so scared. One day I was getting the material. You know, the
machine was like this you know, the needles.

D: They were kind of crisscrossed.

F: Going through the arm. Each needle could make a hole if it's tie in it. It came
from Australia, this material. I was working out at... I couldn't work because the
material was impossible to work with. I got so scared that I couldn't talk, you
know. I got like fainted.

D: Why were you scared?

Freifeld Page 7

F: If I make up work like this, they're going to fire me. Being a Jew, I get no job

D: Who were your bosses, they weren't Jews?

F: They weren't Jews. A lady came in and she saw that I am so white and scared.
She put me in her lap and she said, don't worry you are all children, don't worry.
We're not hurting you. I cried and I saw that was over. They took away the
material from me. I was working on Friday. Friday I was still and Saturday
morning I was still working. Monday the police came for me.

D: Do you remember the year?

F: 1942.

D: Do you remember what time of year it was? Was it warm, was it cold?

F: It was warm, it was June or May. My birthday is the 31st of May, and I was in the

D: So you went to the ghetto very shortly before you were taken on the train. Were
you in the ghetto very long?

F: Six weeks.

D: Six weeks, so that was 1944.

F: 1944, yes. It was May, maybe the 26th. I think because in a few days was

D: So it was six weeks before your birthday. You were in the ghetto six weeks?

F: Before yes.

D: Did your whole family go? I mean your brothers and your father?

F: No. My father was in a different section. I don't know where he went. My
brothers were in there, forced labor. My sister was married to another. I was just
with an strange girl in my living quarters.

D: So you were by yourself.

F: I was by myself.

D: Do you remember her name?

Freifeld Page 8

F: I don't know. She was working in the same place and she came from a small
town or village. I don't know.

D: You said earlier that your sister had married a man who was not Jewish.

F: Not Jewish, he was Romanian.

D: How did that affect her? Did she get picked up to get taken into the ghetto also?

F: She was picked up because she wanted to be picked up. She wanted to be with
the Jews.

D: What did you think of that?

F: Because it was kind of. She was a very religious girl and to marry somebody
who is not Jewish, you don't like it. When she came in the ghetto, we were
together and she was happy that she's with all her kind of people. The thing is
that she was... she had a goyber and she was just operated on her goyber.
When we got to Auschwitz, a Mengoay.

D: Doctor Mengoay.

F: Asked are you healthy? She said, I've just been operated and she showed that
the operation... and he put her to go in the oven and I never saw her. Never saw
her anymore.

D: Sorry.

F: She was my mother, she was so good. She took me to the job.

D: She took care of you.

F: Yes, she took care of me. She was seven years old then.

D: It was like losing your second mother.

F: Yes.

D: When you were in the ghetto, were you aware of the Jewish council in the

F: We were teached nothing. Nothing, just what's coming that was what. It came
that day, packed us up on the train. No food. Some time [we] went three, four
days without food in the ghetto.

Freifeld Page 9

D: What did you do everyday? You weren't allowed to work?

F: We didn't do nothing.

D: You just waited.

F: Yes. We just cried and scared and whatever it was it was just up to the

D: How did your sister find you? Was the ghetto very big?

F: The ghetto was full and the way they put in, we knew when they come in from
there. I went to walk around. They let us walk in the ghetto. We meet and we
did what we could.

D: Did you ever see your father in the ghetto?

F: No, never saw him.

D: Or your brothers.

F: The brothers, the brothers were gone.

D: In the labor.

F: In the labor, forced labor.

D: Do you know where that was? Was that in Hungary?

F: They would send out, I don't know. My mother was telling us, they were taking
us far away to far to Bessarabia and I don't know. Older brother that ran the
people were coming home. One of them told me he was shot. I think the

D: When you were in the ghetto, were there rumors about what was going to
happen to you? What were people talking about?

F: People were alive and you can talk and you don't hear nothing. You don't even
talk about. The only thing I saw was a couple there, they had a five-year-old little
girl where I was living. She was so pretty. She used to sing with an open door or
on a terrace and sing. I was always listening to her. I sat down outside or I
opened my door and window and listened. Just have that music around. She
had a cold and her mother was going crazy, what's going to be with my child.

D: When you were in the ghetto?

Freifeld Page 10

F: No, when we were on the train.

D: On the train, okay. Tell me about that. Tell me about the day that they put you
on the train. What happened that day?

F: That's all, they took us to the train and they put us in the wagon, maybe seventy-
two people in a purse. I used to deliver the cars or the horses and after it was
everybody in the train, they called one or two people to take water for the trip and
I was picked for it. I took a pail in my hand and I filled it up. The Hungarian
soldier pulled it out and sent me back to the train.

D: So you went back with no water.

F: With no water. Four days we were going on a train to Auschwitz.

D: No food.

F: No food.

D: No drink.

F: No drink. Some people, older people, couldn't go without already.

D: Was that the first time that you started seeing people dying?

F: Yes, that's the first time. What I knew, I got up 6:00 and get there at 7:00 go to
work, I have to be there. You had to choose your living quarters close to the
place that you'll be able to be on time.

D: That was your life.

F: Yes.

D: When you were on the train, did you know where you were going?

F: We saw that we were through Czechoslovakia. We go through because the train
would go through the stations. We could read.

D: You could read it.

F: Yes. That's what we knew.

D: But you didn't know where you were going.

F: No.

Freifeld Page 11

D: How long did it take for you to get to Auschwitz?

F: About four days.

D: Oh you said that already, I'm sorry.

F: Take four days, I'm not so sure. I was there in Auschwitz on the 4th

D: June 4th?

F: June 4th

D: What was your first impressions when you got out, when you got there?

F: You know what was? It was a big big place. A lot of one floor, like army place.
A big empty, sand all around. We just sat on the sand.

D: Were there lots of people?

F: It was sunny and sand.

D: So it's hot?

F: Of course, with a lot of people the train was full and we were waiting for housing

D: Did you arrive with your sister there?

F: Yes, my sister was there already. She was separated as we got off from train.
She was turned to the road. I never saw her.

D: How did you find that story out?

F: Nobody told, but I never saw her anymore. Never.

D: How did you know that Dr. Mengoay asked her about...?

F: I was with her.

D: Oh you were with her...

F: We stood, we came from the train and there was Mengoay, he was waiting for
the people. He was pointing.

D: Go here, go there?

Freifeld Page 12

F: Yes. I never saw her anymore.

D: Did you know where you were going? Did you know what all that pointing

F: I had the feeling. You didn't know what happened. Then they took me in to
bathe. They took us in a place at nighttime. Not a place to sleep, but in a toilet.
In a big big room. We were sitting there and the next day they gave us some. I
don't know what... I don't remember how it was.

D: Did they register you into the camp?

F: Yes.

D: Did they shave your head?

F: They shave our head, hair and they gave us gray clothes. We had to take a
shower and that's the way they put us.

D: Everybody together.

F: Yes.

D: All women? Or women and men?

F: I don't know. They put us, not to bed, but they had like a line of build up on top
and bottom. Some kind of wood.

D: In a building, you went into a barrack then they had wood kind of platforms.

F: I think I have a blanket. I had a blanket. I had something. It's such a difficult
thing to remember when you are so scared, how it was. And they kept us I think
for a few days in Auschwitz.

D: Just in the barracks.

F: Yes.

D: Did they give you food?

F: Just a few days, I think they put something in a big camp and they let you stick
your hand in get it. That way, some food. One barrel, not really separated.

D: All food in one big barrel.

Freifeld Page 13

F: I don't know how it was, the food. I think next day, right away, they took us to

D: Let me interrupt you for a second. When they registered you in the camp, did
they tattoo you with the numbers?

F: No.

D: Did you ever get a number?

F: No. I had a number, but on a paper.

D: They never put it on your skin.

F: No.

D: So you went to Birkenau. How long were you in Birkenau?

F: There too, I think one night.

D: You just stayed in Birkenau one night.

F: One night. There too they put us in the toilet. About 1,000 holes lined up to
another line.

D: 1,000 what?

F: Holes where you sit for your bathroom.

D: Toilets, like a latrine.

F: Yes, and it was very tight, you sit next to each other, the other one's elbow
sticking out or you moving. It was uncomfortable, very uncomfortable.

D: What was that like? All of a sudden you were having to do these very personal
things in front of strangers.

F: You had to do what you had to do. You can't hide it.

D: So then you were at Birkenau one night.

F: One night and the morning there. They were... was some kind of couple there
and was with a stick, get ready, get ready.

D: Did they hit you?

Freifeld Page 14

F: They hit you. They go for them and they hit others. We started to get and the
blankets that you were covering yourself, it was 5:00 in the morning. We were...
it was raining. [They were] making us go to the train.

D: Okay.

F: And I remember gray weather, a month now of colds. Nice warm coats and I
picked up one and I wanted to take it with me. The girl...

D: The kaipo?

F: She just took it out from my hand, drew it back.

D: So all you had was your gray clothing. Did you have shoes?

F: The shoes they didn't take away, but that doesn't last too long you know. I don't
know what kind of shoes. I had my own shoes. So we went on a train.

D: Was it crowded again just like when you were going to Auschwitz?

F: Yes, maybe even more. We were mixed up with more people. Then they put us,
made us transfer to Riga.

D: Riga is in Latvia.

F: Yes, Latvia, the Baltic Ocean.

D: Boy, they kept moving you. What did you do there?

F: They called, that mill opened some kind of item which was a powder. It was for
the gun.

D: Gunpowder?

F: Gunpowder. We worked there from morning until noon. They give us some kind
of food, soup. There was very poor.

D: There wasn't much potato in it?

F: No.

D: Mostly water.

F: Water, and people died in no time.

Freifeld Page 15

D: From starvation?

F: Yes. [It was about] 4:00 or 5:00, they took us back to the barracks and we were
there about three months.

D: What were the barracks like in Riga?

F: We had beds made out of, I think, it was straw. We put our blanket, that was the
baby sleeping and most of us were sleeping with another girl.

D: Did they keep the women separated from the men?

F: Yes.

D: How did women deal with menstruation, with their periods?

F: We didn't menstruate.

D: You stopped almost immediately. Most women didn't menstruate.

F: We didn't menstruate. I don't know what they gave us. None of us.

D: Were you already losing weight at this point when you were in Riga?

F: Sure, and I was not heavy. I was always the same 50-55 kilograms. 55 or 53
kilos, what I was. I didn't lose. I was losing, but not too much. Because if I
would have closed a lot I would not be able to survive because I wasn't heavy.

D: Did you ever get extra food? I was reading sometimes about the camps where
people would give you an extra piece of bread or you might do something for
somebody for extra food. Did that ever happen?

F: Everybody had such little food, nobody could separate from it. Neither could
they. You get a slice of bread in the morning with black coffee. You always had
to have [your] dish [they gave you] with you. They just poured it in and you have
to eat that.

D: Did you ever communicate with any of the men or people that were in other
barracks? Did you talk with the people that you stayed with in your barracks?

F: Yes, I was staying with a girl from the beginning to the end.

D: All the way from your home?

F: No, not from my home.

Freifeld Page 16

D: Oh, from Riga?

F: From Auschwitz.

D: From Auschwitz. Did she become a friend?

F: Yes, we become real friends. We couldn't say we loved each other.

D: What was her name?

F: I think Elizabeth. I loved her and she loved me and we were really over each

D: Did you help each other?

F: We helped each other. She was younger than me. She was I think about
eighteen or twenty years. I was older than her. She depended... if she couldn't
get up, I went up and I took her dish for food and mine was not no problem. But
once in more... let's say I was already two months in there. They started to be
sick, the girls. Not my girl, but there were three sisters and it was a rabbi's
daughters. They were always going to the train holding their hands. They were
holding each other on the train. Once I took about six dishes, food that day,
couldn't go out. I got so beaten up and cold and everything that nobody could

D: You got beaten up?

F: Yes, because the girl... I couldn't hold the dishes. So easy to pour it in, you

D: So you spilled it.

F: She couldn't pour the food fast enough. She was grabbing my front and she
says, why do you bring so much dishes? I told her everybody is sick, I like to
help. The police was watching, they threw out everything, and they beat me up.
I had such trouble.

D: Did you get hurt very badly?

F: I got hurt very badly. I didn't try to do it again. So people died in no time. We
just had to hold on. Somebody died, just hold on and set it somewhere, put it

[End of side 1, tape A]

Freifeld Page 17

F: Then, after three months in Riga, our work was stopped. They were taking the
area people of Riga. [They] were putting people on trucks and they were taking
them away. Next door was a well of young children, they were just strewing
them on the top of the trucks. We don't know where they were taken. Then we
were coming on a line and we were put on a boat. Other people in a smaller
boat which we heard that they never got off from the water.

D: Did you know why the work stopped?

F: Because the Russians were coming.

D: The Russians were coming. How did you know that? Who told you?

F: There was sometimes a good soldier, not a German. It was a soldier for the

D: Which army?

F: For the Germans. And they said, the Russians are coming.

D: So, I want to ask you a little bit about that. On occasion were there soldiers or
kaipos that were good to you? Kinder?

F: Was soldiers who had to serve and they were telling us things. They couldn't tell
too much. We experienced whatever it was. They were putting the kids and the
families to come to the water and we never saw them. One kid, one truck, what
was not killed. Was we met them in the Stutov.

D: This is after you were on the ship.

F: They took us on a ship. It was a big ship, they even give us some food on the

D: Let me ask you, were you ever at Kaiserwald?

F: Kaiserwald? Very familiar?

D: It's near Riga. Were you ever there or were you always in Riga, at the gun?

F: Kaiserwald I heard about, but I don't know what it was.

D: Okay. When you were transported, tell me about them taking you to the ship.
How did you get to the ship?

F: They put us on a truck and took us to the ship. They put us on a big ship.

Freifeld Page 18

D: Did you know where you were going?

F: They were doing, saying things. I don't know. We went through, I think, Danzig.

D: Let me back you up a little bit when you were on this ship. Where in this ship did
you go? What part of the boat?

F: They took us toward Germany.

D: But where in the ship were you?

F: I was on the bottom.

D: On the very bottom. Was there any light down there or was it dark?

F: I don't know. When it was dark, I was sleeping. I was young, if they put me in
the water I would sleep too.

D: You were exhausted.

F: Yes.

D: Were people getting sick from being on the ocean? Sea-sickness or anything?

F: I don't. They got to a place where there were a lot of people. I even saw some of
my relatives, young girls.

D: When you got to Danzig? Or in the ship?

F: No, when we got to Stutov.

D: So, you got on the boat and they took you to Danzig.

F: Danzig and then they didn't empty us. They just took us to Stutov and we got
there and then they said, you are too late. There is no more oven.

D: They turned the ovens off.

F: There was a couple and they were just sticks and you here, you there and we
were there. I don't know if we were there two weeks.

D: What time of the year did you get to Stutov?

F: The fall time.

Freifeld Page 19

D: The fall.

F: Yes.

D: Were you still with Elizabeth?

F: No. I had lost her.

D: After Riga?

F: I don't know.

D: You don't know what happened to her.

F: I don't know. Maybe she was there with me.

D: You don't remember, okay.

F: There they were beating us. There was no food. They gave us something.

D: Do you know why they kept moving you? Was it because the Russians were
getting closer and closer?

F: I don't know how long I was there. A short time after they took us in a small boat.
Not a regular boat, just like what they ship the coal. They packed us in that and
they took us to Gutow.

D: How long did it take to get to Gutow?

F: With the boat, I think just a day.

D: Just a day.

F: That was in Germany, Stutov, but Gutow is Poland.

D: So what was in Gutow?

F: There was nothing there, just a site camp. They put canvas covers.

D: So not even any buildings.

F: No. They took us there to work, the schitzengrabba.

D: What is that?

Freifeld Page 20

F: Where the soldiers go in and they are covered...

D: Trenches?

F: Trenches, yes.

D: And you were digging trenches?

F: Digging trenches.

D: All day long?

F: All day long, yes.

D: For how long?

F: I think the same thing, about three months.

D: Three months you were there.

F: Until December, I think, we were digging the trenches.

D: So how were the German soldiers? Were they more anxious or more nervous?
Were they meaner?

F: They beat you and they were terrible. Food was a little black coffee and potato

D: That's it.

F: And a slice of bread, black, dark bread.

D: Let me ask you, up to this time, did you see people that became what they call
musselman? Stopped having a will to live?

F: We all got that way.

D: Did you get that way?

F: I got that way too.

D: What did that look like?

F: You were just skin and bone. We were there three months. Three months later,
in December. It came, a voice, that we had to get ready because we're going to

Freifeld Page 21

walk to Germany. We had to get ready.

D: What did that mean?

F: Not in a train. Not in a car or a bus or anything. Just get ready shoes and
everything, on your feet. We started to walk.

D: When they said, get ready, what did you have to get ready?

F: It was winter in Poland, it's winter.

D: Did you have clothing?

F: Whatever you had.

D: That's it. There wasn't much to get ready.

F: We had to get ready, and we started to walk, and [we] walked for six days.

D: In the middle of winter.

F: No food and no water, just whoever fell, they shoot.

D: They shot them.

F: Then was left. The girl which was with me, that was what happened to her. She
fell down and she got shot. She was from Deish, that's the town name [that she
came from]. A very religious girl.

D: That wasn't the same one from Riga, this was a different person that you were
walking with?

F: She was the same girl.

D: Oh, the same girl. She died on the march.

F: She died on the march. Six days and six nights.

D: How did you survive?

F: I don't know.

D: What kept you going?

F: I don't know. I just was strong and I was healthy. Nothing happened to me.

Freifeld Page 22

After six days they stopped because they got some food coming. They give us
some food, but we were not so hungry anymore because we just [were] half-
alive. Then we stopped, there came soldiers from that side and that side. They
were telling the leaders where to take us.

D: German soldiers came.

F: Yes. They put us in a place where... I don't know how you call it, [where there
are] farmers.

D: On a farm?

F: On a farm they had cows, porks [pigs], and a big house. Some of them were put
inside. I was in where the cows were.

D: Like a barn?

F: Barn, yes.

D: Was it warm at all in there?

F: It was not warm at all. It's just like it was and how many we were there, a lot of
them died. In that situation there was some fellows, some people from the city
which were... they were watching us. Democratic people, you know, who was
watching us, what they're doing to us.

D: When you were at the farm?

F: When we were in the Gutow, there, in that city, we didn't know that anybody
watching us. We just knew that the Germans taking us to work and feeding us.
Washing, it was very hard to get a little water to wash yourself. These people
who were watching us in Gutow, they were following us just like we were walking,
they were walking. Maybe a mile away or two miles away.

D: Did you see them?

F: No.

D: No, you didn't know they were there.

F: Only two or three people. But the camp of the people was put down. It looked
like the Germans, the Russians are very close where we were. Overnight they
left us there, the Germans.

D: At that farm.

Freifeld Page 23

F: On that farm, yes.

D: What did you think? Did you see them leave?

F: Leaving, no. We did no... just in the morning when it was light, the kaipos,
because we had kaipos, Jewish kaipos, which they give the order the Germans
to the Jewish kaipos that they left. In the morning, when the light was already
came, they went up all over. I think three kaipos, it was that the Germans left us.

D: Hold on. [Interruption] I think when we left off, you said you were in the farms and
the kaipos got up and they looked around and the Germans were gone.

F: Yes, the kaipo came and said the Germans are gone. So but we can not go on
the street. Two men came that we shouldn't... it was like a farm. They didn't
lose street. Here you live in the street, back then no one was around.

D: So it was kind of deserted or isolated.

F: Yes. Two men came and they were pumping water outside. They said, please
don't walk around because the Germans didn't go yet, didn't leave. They see
you, they kill you. So we didn't go for three days, we were holding us up inside.

D: Was there any food, anything there?

F: No.

D: Nothing.

F: After three days, we... two of the group went out to the end of the little street and
they saw there is Russians stationed with trucks in the highway. They went to
talk to them and they were telling them that we are here and we need food and
we like to go further, not to stay here.

D: How many people do you think made it to the farm? Do you have any idea?

F: Two or three to the old...

D: From the march?

F: Everyone from the camp there.

D: Did you lose a lot of people along the way? Did a lot of people die along the

F: Not so many, because it was young people mostly.

Freifeld Page 24

D: Healthy people.

F: Healthy people.

D: Do you have any idea about how many people? Hundreds or?

F: Maybe, I don't remember.

D: Women and men?

F: No.

D: All women?

F: All women.

D: So you in your experiences up to that point, you were almost always just with
women, you didn't see men very much.

F: There we started to get out, slowly.

D: Walking together?

F: Yes, we were going to the end of the road. Then we met the Russians. I didn't
have my shoes on anymore.

D: Did you lose them on the march?

F: I lost them already. I put dress on mine from the blanket I took, pink, and it was
already February and this time of the year. I bound my feet. It was ice and
everything. The Russians saw that I have no shoes. They right away gave me
boots. They give us food.

D: Did you really believe that you were free? What did you think?

F: I didn't believe that because we weren't free yet. We were afraid from
everything. Then the city from there was Strickrometer. Now we had to walk to
the city.

D: With the Russian soldiers. Did they escort you?

F: The Russian soldiers didn't bother us. They let us go.

Freifeld Page 25

D: You went by yourself.

F: Yes, they let us go. We got to the city.

D: How did you know where you were?

F: Half of us were already in the city when I was starting to walk, when my group
was going. There was a doctor there in the city. They told us that we could go in
that house. It was the middle of the city. There was a bank right next door to
that part. We were going up on the upstairs, on the house there was twenty girls.
We were going up to sleep. The minute we got up, an alarm started to go off.
That is a fire, there was a fire in the bank.

D: Oh.

F: And that was next door, very close to the house. We had to run down. Some of
us were fallen asleep already. We had to run down and we had to get somebody
to take us where we could be stationed.

D: Now, do you know what city you were in? Where were you?

F: That I don't know.

D: Do you know what country you were in at this point?

F: Poland.

D: You were in Poland.

F: Yes. But I don't know the city and I knew it so well all the time.

D: But you forgot the name.

F: I forgot.

D: A big city?

F: Not a very big city, no.

D: Not very big.

F: Then soldiers [came from] the town and made us stay lined. They took us to a
place, a building, where nobody was in and they said, you have to find yourself
where you sleep, whatever, and they left.

Freifeld Page 26

D: You were still in the same city?

F: Yes.

D: How did you understand them? They spoke Russian. How did you know what
they were saying?

F: Some of the people were from that neighborhood and they could speak with
them. Not me.

D: So people had to translate for you?

F: Yes. When they could translate Jewish or German whatever. So there we got a
place to stay. Then we stayed there for awhile. I don't know how long that took.
I forgot they made a transfer. They took us to Warsaw, about twenty kilometers.

D: From Warsaw.

F: From Warsaw. They put us in a camp there. We were stationed there for I think
again three months in that camp.

D: What was going on in the camp? What did you do there?

F: Nothing. We were getting a little food and everybody's sleeping on the floor or
wherever we could.

D: Were there soldiers watching over you or did you just stay there on your own?

F: We stayed there. The city knew about us. We stayed there pretty long until they
decided that we should go home.

D: Did you want to go home?

F: Sure. [They said,] come and we will transport [you] home. That [is what] they
were saying, that [is what they] were telling us.

D: Were you still having trouble believing that you were going to be okay?

F: I didn't think anything.

D: Was it better not to think?

F: Better not to think.

D: You just do what you needed to do in that moment.

Freifeld Page 27

F: Yes. They were coming [and saying] that we were home. Now the second time
they telling us that we going home. In that city where we were first, we already
went to the market. I don't know from what, how we had money. I don't know
how. Some of us had something to sell because the general public had nothing
either. They would buy a shoe from you or something.

D: Did you have anything?

F: I didn't have nothing, but some of the people had some extra beside the had out.
They bought it from them and they had some money. They bought milk, stuff
like that.

D: They shared it with everybody?

F: They shared, but most of them was holding on to their own.

D: So how did you get food?

F: Somehow they brought some food. They brought, the city some food.

D: Polish people, non-Jews.

F: The Polish. Then they made a transport and they tell us, you go home. When
we leave to turn with the train to our side of the world, they were just going

D: Not the right way.

F: No. We got to the end. It was Chernovitch that's in Romania, Besselabia. They
made us get up from the train.

D: So when you were in the other town, did they tell all the Romanians, we're taking
you home if you want to go to Romania or Hungary, get on this train and go?

F: They don't ask you if you want to. Transport, you go home. That's all. The one

D: But they asked the people who were from that part of... from that country.

F: Nothing. We going, taking you home.

D: How did they know where their home was, where home was? It was wherever.

F: This is what they said, go on the train, you go home. And we got to Chernovitch,
it was the second day of Passover and all the Jews were out waiting for us.

Freifeld Page 28

D: What was that like?

F: Oh, with the matza and all crying. We're all crying. They cried more than us.

D: Were they people that had already been freed?

F: They weren't taken. Romania didn't take back the Jews. Romania killed, I don't
know, ten thousand Jews in Bucharest and that's all.

D: Then they stopped.

F: They stopped and that's all. So we were there to see Jews that were free and
matzas and every... they tried to bring everything to feel like we are alright. So
we were stationed there. They put us in the army camp and they have to put us
to sleep.

D: Was this like a displaced persons camp?

F: No. It's like soldiers, for a soldier. So we were there and we were patient. Some
of the people tried to learn to... they were actresses in between us. They were
trying to make a show and they tried to... they were musicians.

D: Did little by little, people start to feel alive again?

F: Feel alive and we walked around. We got a little bit of food for breakfast and
lunch. Whatever it was already going to life. So we don't go home, we're not

D: How long were you there?

F: Three months again. After three months, they're coming and we're going home
again. We already made business. I had a little dish in my package. I was
selling it, I got a few cent. So there was already privacy, you know. It was letting
us free going out or to the city.

D: So you could do whatever you wanted?

F: It was a city, a Jewish city most of all.

D: How did you get clothes?

F: I just had the clothes that I had.

D: You still had the gray outfit.

Freifeld Page 29

F: Yes.

D: And the boots from the Russian soldier.

F: That's right. Then we were there three months already and they telling us we are
going home again. Each time, you know, they are taking us home. So I thought,
I am going the way I am, I go home, I will find something. Because the war too,
you went out without locking the door, without being there. The whole part was
Jewish, about twenty units.

D: Were they like apartments?

F: Apartments, yes. Very rich people. They were... one of the sons was taken
away, but the other one was home for the one only. We are getting ready to go.
On the train, we going and the train doesn't go towards us, our home. We
thought that cause there was already men on the train from the beginning and
they were forced labor, Jewish people.

D: Where were they coming from?

F: They are saying, this way maybe they're taking us to Siberia. Maybe we do that.
We were so scared again, what's going to be with us. The train stopped in this
place, was a restaurant and they were taking us to eat.

D: Do you remember the restaurant, where that was?

F: On the way to Struzkrov, around Kiev. We ate and we got back to the train and
the train started to go further and further. In some kind of wilderness, the train
stopped. They made us go off from the train into Kasarma where soldiers were
before. That was the name, Slutzk. That's about 200 kilometers from Kiev.
Then we were another three months.

D: Everything happened in three months.

F: And three months later, it's when you came back to your home.

D: So you went home to your city.

F: It was already summer or fall, I don't remember anymore.

D: You remember when you first got your first day coming back, what did you do?

F: You know, my city was organized. Whoever was coming from Germany or from
the DP camp was a villa, a Jewish family gave the villa over to the Jews, to the
Jewish location service. As you came with a train, they had organized buses and

Freifeld Page 30

took us there. Took us there and they had hot bath for us and they had regular
sleeping. I was with three other friends and we gathered... I think we had to
sleep six of them in that room. We had a nice room. We had food, everything
fresh, everything that was mostly from U.S., American food. It was organized.

D: Who gave it to you?

F: It was organized through the Jews.

D: The Jewish community.

F: Yes. It came from America or from... when we got there we had clean everything
and clothes. I knew the city, I knew how to get back to my house. I was still with
the boots and with the gray clothes and I went home and I found my home, my

D: What was that like? What are your feelings?

F: Nothing there, the windows were closed up with wood. The furniture was there.
They didn't take the furniture. Most of the things, most of the photographs. I
found some pictures. I think that picture was... on the wall.

D: The one that you have on the wall now, that was in your house?

F: Yes. And another picture which is at my brother's house.

D: Did you have any personal belongings there? Your clothes?

F: Some clothes.

D: Picture, family pictures, anything like that?

F: No, that was, I don't have from my father, from my sister.

D: You lost everything.

F: Nothing. I just... what I have. I got married and I have picture with my husband
and with my mother, sister-in-law. I have many of families.

D: Did you see old friends when you got back? Were there people that came back
that you knew?

F: I went back to my place when I was working. They hired me right away. They
gave me a step higher. Like, before I was a girl who was trying the brand-new,
had a new piece, they had to try it on... somebody to make a hundred piece. So

Freifeld Page 31

they put me, that I am a... I try the jackets.

D: So it was a higher position in the company.

F: Higher position, yes. They looked at the... I should have comfort, but for a day
you know... the rest was my business how to arrange myself.

D: Did you go back to live in the villa or back into your apartment?

F: I was a month in the villa. I was back, in there, nobody drives, just walks. Buses
was the way... they right away helped me out with money, the company. I could
leave. One day, I just see my brother coming to my working place. I almost died
when I saw him. So, I had my brother and we moved back to the place. I had
the furniture, I had some dishes. Some things were taken.

D: Where had your brother been?

F: My brother was forced labor like a soldier.

D: For that whole year and a half that you were away?

F: He was taken to Gunsgenham, my cousin.

D: Okay.

F: That's in Austria, yes. And he was there in that camp.

D: Did he know what happened to your other brother? Oh, your other brother had
already died.

F: He died, yes. People came and they told me that he was shot. But he was shot
not from the Germans, from the Russians because he was in the Hungarian line
and he was to run to the other side and they shot him.

D: Did you ever find out what happened to your father?

F: My father was killed in Auschwitz. He was fifty-eight years old.

D: How did you know that? How did you find that out?

F: Because they were taking him to Auschwitz. I never saw him.

D: You knew he went to Auschwitz and you never saw him again.

F: All the old people were...

Freifeld Page 32

D: And nobody told you that they had seen him.

F: No, it wasn't free nothing. It was just a life on the street, and green how you call
the tree? It's there and nobody cares for it.

D: So were you at home and then... how did you get back to life?

F: I went with a bunch of girls, a few of them we were really like a family. She
married my husband's brother.

D: One of your friends?

F: One of my friends. I married the other one.

D: You have to back up and tell me how you met him.

F: I knew him.

D: From before?

F: Not that like a man... I met him. I was working in my place about twelve years
already. There was a girl working there and she was married to my husband.

D: To your husband?

F: Yes, my husband had two children before. I saw him once you know, he was
coming. The company were giving food for winter for the workers. He was
coming with a horse and buggy to pick up the food. He had pants like short
pants and white socks on foot and from far away I saw him and I was thinking
how ugly he is.

D: Oh no.

F: She was telling me, every morning we meet before 7:00. We couldn't get into
work. She was talking about him, how my husband is doing this, my husband is
doing that and I do this. I just didn't think about nothing, just listening. After we
went home, all the girls of whom we worked together, we started to dress up and
go. Then we met those guys and they invited us to go out together to the
restaurant and we went. It was a club, Concordier. They had music and
dancing. We were going to dance and they were living in another part of the
building you know and we were in another part. It was easy to meet.

D: So when you met him, you remembered him from before the war.

F: Yes, before.

Freifeld Page 33

D: Did you still think he was ugly?

F: I never talked to him.

D: Did you still think he was ugly afterwards?

F: I didn't think about nothing, I just went dancing. So I married, we all married the
guys. One of them went to Israel with one boy. I lived at 1050 two years.

D: So you met him twelve years after getting back, after you were liberated. What
was his name?

F: Saul.

D: Saul. Was he from the same town?

F: Yes.

D: Had he been.

F: He was Freifeld, and I am Freifeld, I was Freifeld.

D: Did he go to Auschwitz and go to the camps as well or where was he?

F: He wasn't in Auschwitz. He was in Dachau. He was closer to us there. I was
mostly in Poland. And [his] brother was with him, [they were] together.

D: After you got liberated...

F: My sister-in-law died in 1973.

D: How much longer did you and your husband live there before you came to the
United States?

F: We lived three years in Germany.

D: You moved from Romania.

F: We went to Batterheim.

D: Where's that?

F: Batterheim, Germany, because from Romania we would never be able to come.

[End of side 2, tape A]

Freifeld Page 34

I couldn't stand to stay in a place where they let us so easy out. We didn't want to
stay anymore. I would see every one of them look at me like Jew. I am a
stranger to them.

D: To the people who were not Jewish? To the Gentiles?

F: The Gentiles. I didn't want to stay there any longer.

D: How did they treat you?

F: Even if I die, I don't want to stay there. I like everything, just like this place is
furnished, this is the way I left it, almost new furniture in my place. We ordered it.
You couldn't buy furniture there, you ordered from a furniture maker. We
ordered it and I had my place furnished and everything. I had only one thing I
took, the feather cover. Nothing else.

D: You just left.

F: We just left. We never got a penny for anything. Never wanted to. I didn't want
to have nothing. How could a person stay [in] a place where you never did
anything. You worked all your life. I [worked for] thirteen years and six months at
the comb factory making no money, just to have a sandwich. How could you
stay there? I didn't want to stay there.

D: The people, how did the Gentiles treat you?

F: They were nice, the neighbors. They were glad to see us and everything.

D: But you didn't trust them.

F: I didn't trust them.

D: You didn't feel comfortable. Were you afraid it could happen again?

F: I don't know. If I would have stayed there, I would have gone out to Israel.
People went out to Israel. I would not stay there. I didn't care if I had nothing,
but I would want to stay there.

D: So you were there for about fifteen years after you were liberated before you
moved to Germany?

F: No.

D: Oh no, wasn't that long? How long was it?

Freifeld Page 35

F: Maybe a year.

D: Oh, a year. Did you meet your husband within that year? You got married? I'm
sorry, I misunderstood.

F: I met my husband after we went to Romania. He already worked. We had a
good time. He went with his brother and with my sister-in-law to Budapest.
Because she had a relative and they took some purse and a carpet to Budapest.
My sister-in-law. He went down to Budapest. Then I came out to Budapest and
we went to Germany.

D: Did you get married in Budapest?

F: I got married in Vienna.

D: Oh in Vienna. On your way to Germany?

F: On the way to Germany.

D: So all that happened within a year of being liberated.

F: Yes, I got married at the city hall in Badraha. But in Jewish, we got married by a
young rabbi in a camp.

D: In Vienna?

F: In Vienna.

D: Were people in a hurry to get married after they got liberated?

F: Most of them got married, yes, very quickly.

D: Did you think right away of wanting to start a family?

F: I didn't think nothing, I just didn't want to be alone.

D: How do you think your experience affected your relationship? Was it difficult to
trust people? Was it difficult to trust your husband?

F: No it wasn't. No because we needed each other. They needed us and we
needed them. We were satisfied whatever we had. Our heart was a place
where they opened a place like was thousands of people in there. Some people
in the first, they immigrated to Israel. Later on, [they] opened American roads.
Austria and Canada and wherever people had some relatives. They were waiting
for us. But we came to America.

Freifeld Page 36

D: Did you have relatives or your husband?

F: I had relatives here and I was grateful for my cousin. I don't know. She brought
me a cake or something and hugged me. You be right, you be able to have
everything. That's all. From New York.

D: So you went to New York first?

F: Yes, and our papers were to go to New York and Wisconsin.

D: Did you go through Ellis Island?

F: Yes. I was in New York for nine years.

D: So what year did you get to the U.S.?

F: 1949.

D: Did you speak English at all?

F: You know what happened? We got to Ellis Island and they let us go off from the
boat. I went into a store where I saw a lot of papers and I wanted to buy one or
two papers and they said, no we don't sell it like this. How do you sell? There
were box. I thought that whole box is a lot of money. I don't have it. I bought the
two envelopes and [put] the rest back. I was crying when I walked out.

D: Why?

F: Because I didn't know that much that I had to buy the whole box.

D: Here you were in a new country and things were different.

F: Yes. I was crying that time.

D: Were you happy to be here?

F: Very happy.

D: Did you feel like it was going to be a new life for you?

F: I read a book that somebody is making $5 an hour. $5 an hour? I could never
make $5. I wanted to go to bed and not be afraid that they're going to kill me.

D: Were you afraid until you got here? All the time after you were liberated?

Freifeld Page 37

F: I wasn't afraid already in Germany because they shipped food for us and
everything. I got already assimilated.

D: Were you in Germany, were you in a displaced persons camp there?

F: Yes, in Batterheim, I was three years.

D: And that was run by Americans?

F: Yes.

D: Did people work there?

F: I was working in a kitchen and my husband was working in the office. We were
there for three years. We loved it and everybody liked us. You know when
somebody came, my husband and I right away had milk and bread for the

D: So you made friends in the camp?

F: Sure. We were together in the market with lot of friends.

D: That came from the camp in Germany.

F: Yes.

D: When you got back, how did your experience in the Holocaust affect your
religious beliefs? Did it affect them at all?

F: I just light the candles Friday night. I don't think about kosher. In the beginning I
did, then later on, I didn't worry about to have kosher meat. I don't eat even now,
pork. Cooked pork, other things, ham. I still not friendly with it.

D: Because of your upbringing?

F: Yes. I stay away. Not because it's no good or I think it's not kosher.

D: Just don't do it.

F: Yes.

D: So your belief in God and your religion really didn't change too much with your

F: No.

Freifeld Page 38

D: Do you feel that it helped you get through what you were going through?

F: I felt I would send my daughter to Jewish school and we go to temple. Since I
was working all the time, I didn't go to temple myself much. Maybe this is the
reason she got married to a non-Jewish guy. I learned to be natural that you
have to work and whatever it comes.

D: When you made friends afterwards, was it hard to make friends with people who
didn't have the same experiences as you in the Holocaust? Or was it easier to
be with people that understood or was it harder to be with them?

F: The people whoever was in camp and I met, even in America, they were thanks
god I wasn't there. To meet somebody who was there, they can get a place. In
Milwaukee, Mrs. Viedel, she rented us a two-bedroom apartment. She was
always with us. I felt we come home.

D: So you could make friends fairly easily with people who weren't there?

F: Yes, the thing is that we weren't there because we did anything wrong. We
weren't there because we were hungry and we want to steal the other people's
food. We were working and I got all the food in the house. I left it there... I told
her, you can use everything. She didn't take my things. My pictures, they
didn't... they were afraid to keep Jewish pictures. The non-Jews, anything with...
not that they had anybody coming probably to the house to check on them, but
they themself, they just throw it away.

D: Back at home?

F: You know how many pictures you find in Auschwitz? Tons.

D: Piles.

F: Piled up high. Everything is in the garbage. Everything is fire. They burned

D: Burned people's histories, their whole lives.

F: Yes. Writings, papers, valuable papers which if they have it. Listen, we had no
power to say a word. You had to accept that. And I am here and I have a
wonderful daughter. She belongs to the world and I am proud of myself that I
made her a professor. You know.

D: How do you think your experience affected the way you were a parent?

F: You know, that much I can tell you, that I am still in a feeling that she was given

Freifeld Page 39

to me from God. Which is never going to change because when she was born,
she was so beautiful, she was so sweet. She moved, I was up already. Her little
crib was there. I don't know how I can explain you that it was not natural to me
because I felt that I am dead already. Here I am, a little angel. I was afraid to
take her out on the street. They're going to grab her from me. I was never to
have a babysitter because I had a friend and she had three children. The other
girl had two children. It's just on one corridor on a building and she left two
children with a babysitter and she didn't go to check on the baby. Somehow the
baby was turning and turning and she got choked and she died that night when
they were out. I said, I will never have a babysitter. I think I never had a
babysitter until she was five years old.

D: Was she born in Milwaukee?

F: Milwaukee, yes. 1950.

D: So she brought you some life back, she brought you your life back.

F: The friend of mine, she had an uncle in Philadelphia. He was a doctor. He
wanted them to come to Philadelphia. When Ellis was five years old, they were
leaving to Philadelphia. You cried. I don't know what's with them. We don't
correspond anymore. It's too old already. Almost fifty years. But listen, that's
life and pieces like that happen. But I hope nobody but nobody in the whole
world would happen something like that.

D: You know we're doing the diary of Anne Frank and there's something that she
wrote in her diary that people are always repeating. She said, despite
everything, I still believe people are really good at heart. I'm wondering, based
on all your experiences, what do you think of that statement?

F: I think that's the right thing. When it happens something to you, like that, until
you get a stable for yourself, you don't know how to act. You run from it. That's
what it happened to me. I couldn't stand myself to get steadily working there. I
couldn't stable myself with a place I lived. I just wanted to run. I just didn't want
to stay.

D: In Romania and that's when you left.

F: Yes. Because in between... after a while I was thinking. There was three sisters
working in the place. The older one was a manager in the sewing department.
The middle girl was working where I was working and the sister was just
studying, learning how to work. They were non-Jews. Three sisters together.
When I was feeling to go to work one day, I wasn't on the way to the camp, just
was scared that it was Hungary already, 1940. She, the middle girl, outside was
missing from work, running without doing nothing, washing her hands. I wasn't

Freifeld Page 40

there, she wanted to see what happened to me. I could never forget that.

D: You couldn't live there with those memories.

F: No, I could never forget the situations. Because I got up 6:00, 7:00, I was
working and I was young, knew everybody in my work and everything. Just like
you are in your life. You know, you have responsibilities and doing things. Then
you become a nobody, no responsibilities, nothing.

D: Did you even try to make meaning of it, to even try to understand?

F: Then after I came I was so busy. How I'm going to fix up my life. All those

D: All the pictures on the wall here.

F: All the pictures, always a little stitching.

D: Did you do these all?

F: I did all, and I did a lot more. I did for my brother and my friends. Ellis, she hates

D: Was that something that you did just to keep your mind busy and keep you not
thinking about your experiences?

F: We went to California, we opened a shoe store. My husband was a shoemaker.
We opened a shoe store and when I had no customers, I was busy with

D: You said that your husband was your best friend?

F: My husband was my best friend, we work hard. He was not as serious on his
work, but I was very serious. He leaned to drive. He never wanted to drive. I
was driving. I was going to the wholesalers and buying merchandise and fixing
up the merchandise according sizes, price and everything. I was running it. He
was in there repairing and people liked him very much. They liked him to fit. We
had every kind of shoes. Boots and baby shoes and work shoes and stylish
shoes. I had customers from the good downtown... maybe from the department
stores. The girls came to ask for shoes. We did okay, but there was little time
when I didn't have much customers. Then I was busy...

D: With the needlepoint.

F: And busy with Ellis. Taking her to school and picking her up. I was making

Freifeld Page 41

dresses for her, learning to sew.

D: Did you try to have more children?

F: Yes, but I didn't have any more. I wish I would have had another one.

D: I'm going to ask you one more question. Are you familiar with Victor Frankle?

F: Victor Frankle?

D: He was a survivor, he was a Holocaust survivor and he later wrote a lot about
survivors and how they made it through the camps. He said at one point, the
prisoner who was in the camp and lost faith in the future was doomed. I'm
wondering, what do you think about that? Did you, that whole time when all
those horrible things... when you were going through all that, did you have faith
that you would get through?

F: No, I started to tell about the three sisters, we were going to dig the trenches.

D: In Riga, no in Gutow.

F: Gutow. Those three sisters, they were always together and one of them always
hold the praying book in front of them. They were so nice and none of them
could go back. They was younger... funny, maybe one of them was less than
eighteen. They all three of them perished there. See those things, you are
interested to live as long as you live and you have eyes. You don't want just to
die. That's what they did.

D: You had a will to live. You wanted to live.

F: Yes.

D: You wanted to survive.

F: I wanted to survive. I was trying, you know one of the girls died in front of my
eyes. The girl who was a German girl. I took her hand and pulled her up. That's
what I did. I had to pull her out and take her to the field. Just pulling her. But
you think, what kind of living is that? A girl like me, I could have died just there.
Things that a few of us survived.

D: Why do you tell your story now? I know it's painful. Is there a reason that you
tell your story, your history?

F: My daughter wants me to tell it.

Freifeld Page 42

D: Do you think it's important?

F: She was asking me many times. Give me the story I should write a book and I
never did.

D: Do you think it's important to talk about it?

F: It's important, the reason is important because it never happened before our
lives, these things. That everything happens in another place which is more of
our religions, people allow. It happened that... it should be helped before it
begins. They shouldn't let it. They tell... now too with the Arabs. The Arabs, you
know what they want? To kill all the young people in Israel. Not the old people
because the old people doesn't mean anything anymore. After young people.
Jews dying out. That's what I think about because old people, seventy-year old
people can not jump over a train, can not jump over a house. Young people, if
there is something, they have the other... old people can not do it anymore.
That's the situation. If you have a chance to save which one of them, you can
save more people than just leave it like that. Because that's over nobody knows.
Just one person to save a whole town.

D: You think the more people know about what happened and individual people's
stories that that could help prevent it from happening again.

F: Yes, it has to be that way. It has or it cannot be otherwise. The thing is, look at
what happened far away. It happens all over. All over, they notice, if you are a
Jewish person and you pray, they know that you are Jewish. That guy could
come up and tell a story on the television and kill millions. It's not over. I think
my daughter, the little boy who goes to temple and he learns his bar-mitzvah.

D: Your grandson.

F: My grandson. They're telling him stories but he also cares for some of the
friends who are not Jewish. I think they are Arabs and they are from Israel.
They are telling the stories that they love the Jews, they love better than the

D: It's important to know all about it. It's important to hear those things. Thank you.

F: Your welcome and thank you for listening.

D: This is the end of the interview.

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