Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Franka Charlupski - November 19, 1981


We wound up in a camp outside Bremen. I don't remember the name. There was a name, there was a name to it. I don't remember it. Matter of fact, I meant to ask my girlfriend--call her and ask her. Maybe she remembers and I would have known it for you but I didn't. We were there from August '44 till the beginning of April '45. This was the camp that you walked to walk--to work, every morning, in these Holland wooden shoes, you know, seven kilometers everyday one way, and seven the other--fourteen kilometers. I don't have to tell you what this does to your feet. And uh, we got a slice of bread a day...

[interruption in interview]

...we worked in places where the Americans bombed. After a place was--a house was bombed we would come in and clean the uh, the bricks and stack them, that they can reuse them.

In Bremen?

In--it--we worked in Bremen. The camp was outside of Bremen.

I see. So everyday...

So every day we spaziert to, to uh, Bremen seven--I think it, I think it was seven kilometers or more, not less.

And that's how you bought the bread?

Yes, that came later, that came later. Um, there were 500 Hungarian Jews--women, and 300 Polish [pause] Jews. And that's not easy. They're two different nation...they're both Jewish, but they're both different nationalities. And they were there already. We came later. So the better places they had. They were the uh, Kapos, the, the uh, Stubenführer. Uh, they had the upper hand over that camp. Uh, we were separated into groups and each group worked in a different place watched--SS women, SS men watching us. And there was a uh, uh foreman from a German company that came that worked--that we worked for.

Do you remember the company?

We, we really--I don't think we even knew that company. I don't think so. And it all depended, who was watching you. Some--it might sound stupid, or it might sound funny but there were some SS men that looked aside, you know, if you stole something or if you bought--it was called organizing at that time, it wasn't called stealing. Uh, and some of them for nothing, you got killed. You were hit--nobody was killed in our camp. People died from hunger, but they weren't killed, this I must say. Anyhow let's get back to that going to work. And we were working--oh, do you have a question?

No, no. That's ok.

We were--like I said, this was what we--this was our job. After the Americans came in, bombed the place, we were sent in and cleared it up--to clear up. As a matter of fact there was on incident when one house was bombed and a German woman came to, to our, that uh, foreman and she says, "In this and this place, in this and this room, a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left there is my husband's gold watch."And she wanted it and we were supposed to get it. To go through uh, floors, you know uh, and get this watch. We never got it for her. We did get it, but she never got it. But uh, these were things ??? but uh, there were some foreman that did treat us as human beings. We had one in particular that uh, if a farmer would come and say um, "The Jews uh, took some carrots out of that--in that place." He would say, "Not my, not my women. It must have been the Russians." There was a camp of um, of war uh, prisoners. He said, "It must have been the Russians not mine." He knew very well that we did it, because we cooked the soup and he ate it. But you had all kinds of people.

How much did you weigh about?

I never weighed much, so I couldn't lose much more. I was about 80 pounds, but my normal weight was never more than 100.

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