Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - November 19, 1981

Start of War

Um, do you remember when the war started?


What--do you remember where you were at the time?

It was 1939 in September. I was in Łódź.

And how did you hear about it?

How did I hear about it? You know it's a blank. What I do remember is that there was a talk and my father wanted to go leave Łódź, and at that time everybody walked towards Warsaw.




That I remember, and my mother refused. What happened in my particular family is um, one grandmother lived in a small town in Kozienice. I don't if you heard about it; it's near Radom. And they had a bakery there. And I remember my father and mother discussing it, that she would take the younger four children and go with them to Kozienice because at least there'll be bread so be a possibility to survive. And the older ones would stay with my father, which was I and Rosa--my sister Rosa. And that's what happened. They did go, and after they left, about two weeks later, or whatever, the ghetto was closed, and my mother didn't get any mail from us. So she was worried that happened to us. So she left the children with my grandparents, and came to see--she smuggled herself through to get in--to see what happened to us. And that's how we--they were separated completely. And my mother could never go back. And we marched away to Auschwitz with my mother and father, and my sister and I and our spouses. And uh, that's when they separated the men from the women and uh, they took my mother away from us, because we were hanging onto her, on each side, my sister and I. One was on one side, one was the other. And we held onto her, maybe if we didn't hold onto her--my mother was forty-eight years old--my mother wasn't forty-eight, what am I talking about? I--when I went to Auschwitz I was twenty-four, my mother was forty-four years old.

And they separated you then?

They took her away. Mother went straight to the gas chamber and uh, and my father I don't know, but uh, he didn't survive.

When the Germans came, what did people think about them coming? Were they, were they worried about it? In the 1940s...

Sure we worried, because we knew already what had happened to the German Jews.

So you...

We knew because German Jews came into Poland. Now I remember an incident where uh, we were still in the city, we weren't in the ghetto. Where uh, I was walking down the street and I had a coat on. And a uh, woman--Polish uh, woman was walking with a German soldier and she said to him she likes my coat. He walked over to me, took off my uh, the coat off my back and gave it to her, because I had already a yellow uh, star.

How, how did people in your family or your friends feel when the, the order came with the yellow star?

Uh, what is the word? Uh, lowered? Uh, no, there was a word for it.



Did they--that was...

It was humiliation. And when we went into the ghetto, and were locked in uh, you could walk in the ghetto, but uh, you couldn't, you couldn't see the outside so you couldn't talk to the outside. I wouldn't touch saccharin or uh, uh, Sweet'N Low if you paid me. I despise it. This is all we used in the ghetto. I mean, there are certain things that have a, a memory, like um, I don't know what ??? are in English. That's a vegetable, that they gave us in the concentration camp--a soup. It's, it's yellowish. It's like uh, a little orangey. There is a name for it. I saw it already once in a store. You couldn't get me to touch it because th...that taste was still in my mouth.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn