Stalingrad, Russia

In Stalingrad, 8-year-old Frieda and her mother were put in a collective farm where the main crop was watermelons. The farm was one place where they had plenty to eat. Frieda’s mother would work on the farm and pick watermelons, while Frieda was sent to school. They stayed there till about October, when the Nazi army started getting closer to Stalingrad. Frieda and her mother were put on a boat to go further east. They were put on a boat with other refugees and went down the Volga River.

In 1939 there was a large part of the Polish army under General Anders that were taken prisoners and sent to Siberia. In 1941, when Germany invaded Russia, the Polish government in exile, made a pact with Russia, England, and the US, that the Polish Army in Russia, was going to go to fight Germany in the Middle East. So, it happened, that the refugees from Poland, that came to Kubichev from Stalingrad, met the Polish Army, and were attached supposedly to go to Turkey.

As it happened, they only went as far as Uzbakisan. And the Polish Army kept going toward Turkey.

The refugees settled near Tashkent and Samarkand.

In winter of 1941

It was really very interesting because it was a completely different culture. Everything was very different, and the conditions were terrible as they had very little room for them. They were put into a collective where they grew cotton, and they put all of them to work picking cotton. There were many people in one room and there was no sanitation. The night they had arrived, they were given a sack of grain and were told that they could make bread. Frieda’s mother gave her a flat bread that was half baked and they were happy to have it. It was very hard for Frieda’s mother as there were some people that had traveled with their husbands, but her mother was all by herself. She had her sisters, but they had no children and it was very hard for her. Frieda’s father was in the army and they had no idea where he was.

In the last train, in a cattle car we were on one side, FRIEDA did not know how many people, but FRIEDA was the only child on this side. On the other side there was a lot of women with small children and all the children got sick. When we got to Samarkend, a doctor came, and he said they all had scarlet fever. FRIEDA was the only one that didn’t get sick. FRIEDA was the only one that survived in that cattle car.

Later, Frieda contracted typhus, and was taken away from her mother and put under quarantine for three weeks. Frieda was completely knocked out while her mother was only able to see her through the window. After three weeks, Frieda woke up and could hardly stand. When she was released from the hospital, they told her mother that she would need good food that they could not afford. Fortunately, a lot of people helped her, and Frieda recovered.