Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - November 19, 1981

Life After Liberation

When you uh, now when you were liberated--now let's go back to that.


Did you ever think about going back to Łódź?

No. Poland doesn't interest me at all. I would--if my children wanted to go, I would go with them to Auschwitz. My si...my daughter uh, said to me that she would like to. But now they're married and I don't know, but if they wanna go, I would go. Other than that I have no desire. I have no sympathy for the Polish at all. They were worse than the Germans. Uh...

Well, when you were liberated at the camp, did you ever even think of returning home?

No, there was no home.

What was your first, what was your first thought?

My thought: just to have bread. That was really the main thought.

And then you eventually ???

And then, we were uh, after I met my husband, the question was we were going to Israel.

Where did you meet?

In Bergen-Belsen.

At the camp?

At the camp.

Where you at a displaced persons camp too?

Yeah, yeah. He survived in Braunschweig. And uh, at first uh, naturally I didn't think about getting married. I was looking for my first husband and then a man came to me, "Franka," he knew me from the ghetto. Uh, "It's my obligation to tell you that I buried your husband. I was right there ??? and it's only fair that you know it, because at the time you might need it." I still didn't believe--I went to the Dachau where ??? and then more and more people told me and this man was witnessed it ???

Do you know how many people--your family...

My immediate family?


My mother and father uh, my two brothers and a sister and my husband's family--except for one sister--my first husband's family, except for one sister that survived and they were four children; three went then the parents, uh...

Aunts and uncles? Grandparents?

Oh God, the whole family is gone! One uncle survived and we were a big family. There were three uncles, and my grandparents on both sides. A tremendous family, a tremendous family--is all gone. We had three sisters, and we are lucky in--on my father's side. I had three cousins here and ourselves we have three, is six and one cousin on my mother's side. That's an awful lot that is left but it was a tremendous family. They're all gone as far as we know. Like I said, it's possibilities from small towns that we do have family that is alive but we wouldn't know. Their names are different, and we hardly saw them. We knew are aunt so-and-so lived in this-and-this little town, but the children and the husbands we didn't know.

What made you decide not to go to Israel?

Uh, it's a, it's a funny story. It's not that we decided uh, my husband had a sister in Israel that left in 1935. And he felt he wanted go Israel not because we were great Zionist--I mean, the feeling was there but uh, that wasn't the reason why we were going. Uh, and he wanted to go and I said, "Look, I was with my sister all this time and it's only fair if I go and he, you know, where his sis...where his family is." And we registered and we sent furniture and appliances. And my sister, Rosa and Mala were going to the States. And my sister Rosa says to my husband, "Look, we're all going to the States. You want to go to Israel, I can understand it." But she says, "If you don't like it there, how in the world do I know we'll be able to take you to Israel--to America? But if you register to America and you go to America and if you still want to go to Israel you can always do it." And he didn't say anything, didn't say anything to me. And my daughter was at that time four months old? And he went on business to Frankfurt--we lived in Marburg and uh, he registered to the United States. Two weeks later I get papers. "How in the world did that come? I didn't register." And in my home most of these things I do, my husband never does it. And he comes home and I says, "What is this?" And he says, "Yeah, I didn't tell you." He says, "I talked to Rosa and she made sense and when I was in Frankfurt I just went in and registered." And here two weeks later we had the papers. So uh, oh, he did--no, he did tell me. And he says, "Whatever comes first, that's what we're gonna do, like, you know, whatever is bashert." And I guess this is what was bashert and four weeks later we were in, in the States.

This was in 1950?


And why Detroit?

Oh, no, it wasn't Detroit. It's a whole story. It was Ellis Island first and then we went to Tulsa, Oklahoma. From Tulsa, Oklahoma to Topeka, Kansas to St. Paul, Minnesota and then Detroit and Detroit because my cousins live here. And we came to a wedding um, my sister came to the wedding. And she said that there was more possibilities here of making a living than in all of these little towns and that's how we wound up in Detroit. I have no complaints and the United States doesn't owe me a thing. If--I have an awful lot be grateful for but, nobody gave me anything. My husband worked very hard at all hours a day and hard labor. Chrysler, tool and die and then decided on ???.

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