Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - November 19, 1981


Did people hear about anything um, about Auschwitz or any of the camps?

The first couple years, we didn't know. Then when we were told that uh, we had to leave there was um, nobody knew where we're going; we were going to a working place and that's where we were gonna get more food and we're gonna be better off. And if they did...

Who told you?

...we were gonna be better off.

Who told you?

Oh you know uh, it came from...

It came from Rumkowksi?

It came from Rumkowski that we were going to uh, an Arbeitslager.

Then what? Did you...

We--I left. Uh, some people were hiding and they survived in Łódź. But there was the higher from like, the police, from the--some of them did hide and survived in Łódź. I don't know how. I don't know where. I don't know what they did. We--my family, we went to Auschwitz August, 1944.

By train?

By train. And that is a nightmare.

Can you talk about it?

I can talk about it, but uh, some people say things that I just can't understand it. Uh, when we were pushed into the cattle cars it was my mother, my father, my sister and her husband, myself and my husband, and my in-laws. And that was just one percent of what was in that cattle car. You were just pushed in--cattle couldn't stay like that. Uh, you used toi...everything was right there. We traveled, I don't remember, two days. It was uh, it was forever. And when we got into Auschwitz--I think we got a loaf of bread, I'm not sure. And we could take our belong...belongings, whatever you could put on yourself. And when we got to Auschwitz we got off the train. Were taking into a room and we got--were undressed. Completely. When you saw Holocaust and when you saw the naked women, this is what happed to me. That's exactly what happened to me. And the SS were walking back and forth; looking at you didn't have spot on your body or something just to throw you right into the gas chamber. This was already--first they selected you: left and right.

You had already lost your mother at this point?

Oh, yeah. I was just with my sister. And then they shaved our heads. We didn't get any numbers on our arms, it was too late already. They didn't have the time. And we went--we were three days in Auschwitz.

What happened there? You were, you were shaved and then...

Then you--they gave you a pajama top. If you were short you got a long one, if you were tall you got a short one. And, amazing! In August it can be freezing. I don't mean the weather was freezing, we were freezing, because you had nothing on. Or you had the short top on or you had the long top on. And we went into a barrack--to the barrack, that same night. And in the morning they called you for Appell, you know, to stay outside. And you got--you had a little thin--not can, it was flatter than a can, it looked like a plate, but it wasn't. It was rusty, it was ugly. That we had a--that all of us didn't get a typhus right away, I couldn't understand it. And uh, we got a little water, or coffee--whatever it was it looked like dirty water--dishwater. We didn't go to work in Auschwitz. And you know what, it's a blank. I don't even know what we did during the day. Don't ask me because I don't, I don't remember. The only thing I remember, that third day, we were taken someplace. We weren't told what. And we were sitting in front of a building. And the chimney was burning. It was--the smoke was coming. And then, you know, you hear a little talk, "Oh we're going into the gas chamber." And this was um, I don't remember exactly the date, but it was at night. And we were freezing so we were cuddling one from the other, because that's how cold we were. And all of a sudden comes an SS woman with a whip and she starts counting. And she needed 300 women to work. We didn't know what she was counting. We thought we were ready to go in. And I was 298 my sister was 299 and my girlfriend, who lives in New York now uh, was 300. And we were taken away. We didn't know where were going. We weren't told where we we're going. And they took us to the shower and gave us another pajama top and a babushka. I think that time we got some kind of a skirt too, I'm not sure--nothing underneath. And we're taken into another barrack. And from there we were put in a train. You didn't know where you--we're going, so, you know, just like animals, like cattle.

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