Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - June 18, 1985

Knowledge of Gas Chambers

Let me ask you a question about uh, once more, once more back in Auschwitz. Did you wonder what had happened to your mother?

Oh, sure.

What, what did you think had happened?

Uh, we were...I didn't think my mother would go uh, to the gas chamber because my mother was a healthy woman and a good-looking woman. And uh, she was young, forty-four years. Uh, we were hoping that she went to a uh, to work, to another camp but we never heard. And then we never found out but we know, she's not here and we...She would have found us or we would have found her. And my father, I know, that did go to a working camp and uh, didn't survive.

Do you remember the chimneys? Did, did you question what the chimneys were when you first got there?

Oh, yeah. Very well. Very well. They were going full blast.

Did you ask anyone about them?

There was nobody to ask because we were separated. We were in separate. We came in, it was late August, was late already, in 1944. There was no one to ask. We didn't, we really, in the ghetto didn't know, that there was an Auschwitz. I didn't. I don't know about others. I didn't. And we didn't know that we are going to a, to a camp that is uh, that there is no return from it.

When you were in front of the gas chamber, what went through your mind?

Let's make it fast. I mean, you sit out there and your mind starts wandering and you know you're going to death. It's not that there was a question. Although in this case it did turn out to be a question, that was just fate. I guess there was something, that's why I feel so strongly about it, that I must talk about it because there must have been a reason that I was...Why was I better than the other six million? I mean, why me? Why, there was others that did survive but here, I was right there. And for some reason or another, I'm here and thank God I am capable of talking about it. I just wonder where...There are some people that do claim that this never happened. Uh, the professor from Northwestern. I never hurt anyone in my life but I could scratch that man's eyes out right in front of him and I wouldn't be ashamed at all. Where he can say it never happened, it's a pre-fabricated story.

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