Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - November 19, 1981

Repaying Helpful Germans

Did you...

We're gonna come back to that woman now.


Once we were liberated and we got the uh, Red Cross packages. Was it Red--no, UNRRA. You know what UNNRA is. That's, uh...

Better say it.

Okay. Oh, you want me to say it?

Yeah, say it.

Uh, that was the United--I don't remember what it stands for. Anyhow we were getting UNNRA packages. Every month, each survivor got a package in the camp. And there were margarine um, cans of meat, cans of soups--all kinds of stuff that would last for a month. And from um, we were three of us, my sister and my girlfriend and I got three packages. And you know we--once you ate, you weren't that hungry anymore. And there was some provisions in the camp too that we got. We started saving. And I said to my sister and my girlfriend, I says, "You know what, this woman that helped us, we must do something for her, and the foreman that we worked for on that particular project." We must do something--he was a heavy smoker, we knew that. At that time you couldn't get cigarettes in Germany, unless somebody knew an American soldier or an English soldier that's how you got cigarettes. Um, we must do something. And I talked to my friends and whoever had something extra. I would put it in a big carton--a tremendous big carton. We got that thing full, and my girlfriend and I--my sister was too weak--we got in the train and got a couple cartons of cigarettes for that man, and we went back to Bremen. This was a trip for three days and three nights in open cars. But I thought it was only right to do that. This woman risked her life for us And I knew she was poor. We went back, and I rang the bell. The woman opens the door and faints--out completely. And we were shocked. She couldn't change that tremendously that you couldn't stand us, or something. Something must have hit her, we couldn't figure out what. We got her to and she sat down. Naturally she asked us in and she said uh, "They told me--I asked about you," not particular myself, "but there was a hole. Where is that group that was coming to work here?" and they told her we got killed. And here, she sees a ghost. And that's what it did to her. Then we asked her if she would know where we could find the uh, foreman. And she told us he hangs out here and there. And we did go. And we did meet him. And we brought him the cigarettes. This was something that like uh, we can't generalize the way that Hitler generalized. That all the Jews are rotten, that all the Jews are no good. And we can't say that all of Germany was Hitler or Hitler Youth. I personally don't feel that way.

The foreman, was he--did he work for this company?

He was a Wehrmacht. And he was wounded. He had one arm. He lost an arm in the war. And after that, he got--probably through the army, he got the job with that particular company. I don't remember what the company was. But he was always--although, he didn't do it for nothing. Like when I told you about the golden watch, he got the golden watch. We didn't care. I didn't need the golden watch. We just needed to eat, that's all we were interested in. But, but he was a mensch. He was--he had a feeling. He wasn't there to kill us. If he could save us, he did--always did. He said, "My, my women didn't do it." And he knew we did it. But he knew that we were doing it--we weren't doing it to want to steal. All we did is to save our life. We're trying survive, that's all.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn