Early War Period

Soviet Union

On June 22nd, her father and Freida were both in bed listening to music on the radio when her mother came running in and told her father that the Germans invaded Russia. Her father turned the radio to Moscow, which was saying that on the morning of June 22nd, the Germans invaded Russia and were at war. Freida knew that her childhood had stopped as she has heard what was happening in Poland and that it was not safe for them to become part of Germany. A couple of days later, her father was conscripted into the Russian army. When he left home, he told her mother that there was a possibility that because he was in the army that they would be able to leave. He felt that their best chance was to go with the Russians. About a week later, they found out that there was a train that was being readied for people that had fathers or husbands in the Russian army, and that they could be evacuated. In the beginning of July, her mother dressed her in winter clothing, and they walked to the railroad station. When they got there, her aunts and uncle were already there. Frieda’s grandfather tried to convince her mother to leave Frieda with him, but her mother said where she goes, Frieda goes. Probably because of her stubbornness, and her being so resolute to do what’s right, FRIEDA survived the war. Very few children at that age survived the war if they stayed under German occupation.

That evening the train left and after two days they stopped at a town. Frieda’s mother started to regret leaving and wanted them to get off at the next stop and go back home. Her mother’s friend calmed her down and convinced her to follow through with her father’s plan. That night, they kept going towards Kiev. Everybody thought that maybe we will go as far as Kiev, which was at the time - and even now - the capital of the Ukraine. We thought that was as far as we would need to go, and that maybe we would stay there a few months and war would finish. They never made it to Kiev as the German armies were there before them, so the train switched and started east towards Russia. Every night they would hear the German planes over them, and sometimes the train would have to stop completely due to the fact that there was not supposed to be any movement. The train had bombs falling all around, and there were many nights where they thought that they were not going to come out alive. Eventually, they made it to the Dniepper river in Ukraine, near Dnepropetrovsk. It was a large city that had a big dam where the water would make electricity. They had to cross the river, but the Nazis needed to bomb the dam so that the electricity would stop being generated. Every night they would bomb the place and they had to wait to cross. During the day they could not cross as there were army trains going through it, but finally after a few days they were able to cross to the other side of the Dnierper. Frieda was on the last civilian train that crossed the bridge because the next day the bombs hit the dam. They were on the train for four weeks when it we finally stopped in Russia. The Russian government had set up housing and had soup kitchens, but people were hungry all the time due to the lack of food. Even if you wanted to buy it there was no food. They were there for two to three weeks before they were told that it was not safe and that they had to go to the railroad station to wait for a train to Stalingrad. One day, while Frieda and her mother were waiting for the train, Frieda became hungry and they went to a soup kitchen close to the station. As they ate, an air raid siren went on and Frieda’s mother grabbed her by the hand, and they ran to try and find a safe place. That night, a train came by and they traveled to Stalingrad where they arrived in August.