Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - June 18, 1985

Life in the Ghetto

What do you remember about Hans Biebow?

Personally, I had nothing to do with him, thank God. 'Cause once you have to do with him, you were in trouble. My first husband, someone did um, bring to the Gestapo that he had money or something. He, he didn't have it but someone did say it and they took him in and he was beaten and he had nothing to show that he had. Finally, after a while they did let him out. Um, that's what people did with the uh, Gestapo uh, they had a special place where they were and some Jews were telling on other Jews, some Volksdeutsche...We had an awful lot of Volksdeutsche in Ger...in Łódź. Matter of fact, our neighbors were Germans before the war. That's why I could speak German and helped myself quite a bit during the concentration camp with my ability to speak German.

Uh, you, you described walking through the streets into the ghetto.


Um, how large was the room you were given?

Uh, I don't know. We had a, a-oh, excuse me-we had a room in the kitchen. You wouldn't want to live in it.

Were there, were there facilities?

Facilities, yeah, yeah, yeah. This building had facilities uh, it's a... I don't know if people lived there before or whatever, then when I got married, I got one room, that's what came in my one room. Once I got married, I did get one room. You had protect... You got a room otherwise you couldn't get it. I had, we had someone that we knew that uh, was in the uh, um, in the office where they were assigning living space and my husband knew the, was his friend and we got a room for ourselves, otherwise you had to share it with somebody. So, we did have one room, we rented somehow, and uh, I worked and he worked and um, money you didn't get, you just got your rations for the week or the month, whatever.

How did you get your rations?

You stayed in line. If you knew the policeman that was watching, sometimes you wound up with another pound of potatoes, which was a great deal. Uh, we had to go to a certain place where the rations were given out. Potatoes and vegetables were in one place. Bread was in another place. Uh, it was starvation. You could see people sitting in the street uh, looking like a Musulmann. I was very fortunate through the whole...I was never a big eater. Food was not an important thing to me. And, as long as I could get a little bit, I was all right. But there were a lot of people that eating meant an awful lot to them and these people suffered terribly.

Was there disease?

Oh, yeah, there was terrible... People were getting uh, tuberculosis, people were getting typhus, I mean uh, you live uh, six, seven people in uh, one room or two rooms, you can't keep it uh, clean. There was tremendous disease in, in the ghetto. Uh, we weren't sick but I knew a lot of people that were very sick and there was no help. There was no medication, there was no uh, no doctors.

What was it like walking the streets in the ghetto?

Uh, we had a curfew. You could only be out so late. I mean, inside the ghetto you walked, there was no problem. I went to work. I came back from work. We... There was no entertainment, there was no uh, uh, you didn't visit anybody because uh, at a certain time you had to put the lights on and you couldn't walk the streets anymore, so uh, everybody stayed home.

Did you see any violence in the street?

In the ghetto? No. Unless you went, you tried to get out, I mean naturally, you were shot or you tried uh, something that they didn't care for, you were shot. But once you mind your own business, there was no violence in the ghetto per se. Unless you were taken to the uh, Gestapo or a SS man decided, you know, that Jew didn't suit him or didn't uh, he didn't like it uh, they would uh, kill him or beat him up. There were Jews that they had beards and they would interrogate 'em if they would walk in the streets or Jew went by and didn't say good morning or good afternoon and it was only a pretext. He didn't care if you said good morning or good afternoon.

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