Siberia, Russia

In 1942, by sheer luck Frieda’s father found them. While they were in Stalingrad, they had met a woman from their same town whose husband was in the Russian army, too. She had his field address and kept in touch with him. She had nobody and stayed with Frieda, her mother and her aunts and had wrote to her husband that she met them in Stalingrad and were together. Frieda’s father was in a different battalion in the army and was sent to work in camps in Siberia. While he was there a man came up to him from our town and told him that he knew where Frieda and her mother were. One day just after Frieda was sick with typhus her mother got a letter from her father. A couple of months later he got permission for Frieda and her mother to get on a train and come to Siberia. Frieda and her mother went on a train in a cattle car with soldiers to the Ural Mountains where her father was. It was one of the coldest places Frieda had ever lived as there was only two to three months of summer. They were given warm clothes and lived in one room together. There were many times that went hungry in Siberia. In 1943, they started bringing German prisoners into the camps to work at the big ammunition factories due to the copper and coal mines in Siberia. That is where they built all their ammunition and tanks for the war. The United States sent a lot of food such as we would get flour, sugar, dry eggs, and spam to the camps. In 1944, when Frieda was almost 11½ years old, her parents had another daughter. Frieda was very happy to have a sister. In 1946, Frieda and her family could go back to Poland, which was now part of Ukraine. In winter of 1946, Freida and her family left Russia. On the train they built platforms for people to sleep on and each family got a little cubicle. They had a stove in the middle of the cattle car for people to cook on. They traveled for weeks and when they got to Poland they just kept going. They were in Poland for maybe a month or two in Breslow and they illegally crossed the border into Germany and stopped at Bergen-Belsen. They did not find out until 1945 about what happened in Europe. The Russians never let them know that the whole Jewish population was decimated. They had heard bad things in 1940 but were unaware of the atrocities that had occurred until they came back to Europe. Frieda and her family never went back home as Frieda’s father wanted to get them out of Europe.

When they arrived at Bergen-Belsen, they could see the mass graves and the crematorium there. Frieda’s father wanted to go to America as he had some aunts and uncles in the United States and thought that that would be the best place to go. His family lived in New York and had left before the First World War. A few months later, they went into the American zone near Frankfurt called Bensheime. By that time Frieda was 13 years old and felt like she did not belong any place as she had no home. here was not a place that we belonged. Frieda and her family were not able to go to the United States until 1949, 3 years after arriving in Germany. During this time, schools were set up for the children. Frieda longed to live in a home where she could have her own bedroom and live a normal life.