Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Charlotte Firestone - March 11, 1982

Reunited with Husband

"Your husband is there, you're gonna go and you're gonna sit right next to him." I didn't want to go. How I am gonna face him without a child? So, in the meantime, my cousin came there and he took my sister and they went. My sister and he went, Tomasz was his name, just one ticket they wouldn't let him both of them, Tomasz went there and he called Tomasz to come, "there is a man," he said, he should come in here, he said, "you come," he said, "you come." Finally, he came up, he saw my sister, they were very close, even back then. He said, "Is Charlotte, where is Charlotte." Because he knew already that I'm alive because from that man there. She said, "Charlotte couldn't come, she wouldn't even come." So, he came there. I'll never forget that. He said, "You gonna have everything." I didn't have my child, "didn't you hear, didn't you hear?" He said, "I know all about that child." I said, "You'll see, she'll come back with my mother." He said, "yes, yes, she'll come back with your mother." Then he took us to a very nice apartment and there were about twenty women. Women whom I knew from my hometown ???. So they came in and I took my blanket, I have a blanket, I don't know where and he came with my sister and we were lying on the floor, just like in that hotel. There was women who didn't have where to go. They all were there and he went into German houses and whenever he found food, anything, good he brought for those girls and when I came already, they were still there. He had a store already. And I didn't have, I didn't even have an undershirt on. Nothing. He went out to the villages with another soldier. He went into houses and he brought clothing. Whatever he could find and food. And then, when he--I had already--you couldn't go into the store and buy anything, because there was nothing, so he went there and took whatever he could and we put on--I was very thin at the time--anything, everything was thin. And then little by little there was ???. Then a day, one of them find her fath...One of them find a relative. I came home already September the ninth. It was late. May the fifth was end of the war. [pause] We had already a store, a jewelry store. That was the end of it. But I remember nights when I wake up and dream some dream that I shouldn't take my parents. I had a brother who was eighteen-years old. A handsome guy uh, who, before they start already walking, before he was free, he went into kitchen--he stood up and begged when the SS came. They shot him to death. It is in my mind when I wake up and that shouldn't come into my mind. It was such a close family. I remember, after the war, when my husband took me home, that day he said to me, "I heard that you were a Kapo, a Stubälteste. Once I was working on the street", he said, "with a girl. I know her from our hometown. And we were talking. All of a sudden from across the street, a few women start walking--running over and they start hurting her and I was standing--I wanted to protect her and I asked, 'How come you are hurting her?' They said, 'She was a Block--Kapo and she was very mean.' And they just wanted to hurt her." Then he said to me, "I heard that you were a Stubälteste and that's going to happen to you? I'm going to beat you. I'm going to have that. I was in Russia and people were dying and I was holding them in my lap," he said, "and I opened a mouth and a pour in a little soup to keep them alive." He said, "And they going to have something against you, I'm going to have then." I said, "Okay." Couple days later, I walk on the street and sure enough, girls run over there. And they start cursing me, "Chari, oh Chari," and they said to me, "How come?" Just not too long ago I had a different experience with a neighbor. When she was with us, we remembered that for Christmas, they gave us some dishes. Twenty dishes for a thousand women to wash ourselves, you know and uh, it was the first Christmas, so she allowed the warm water in the kitchen everybody should wash them. Now I had five hundred women. She got those dishes for a one day. I had to have it in four hours done, so the girls couldn't possibly wash themselves; five-hundred women in four hours. It was impossible. So, we were standing there, there in those dishes and the other block and the 300 block I remember the Stubälteste. She went to tell to Emma Macha that she didn't get those twenty dishes just then. She came out with a Peitsche. She wants to have the other ten. And I took away those ten and I put it under that koja in the small block and Macha didn't see it. And they found it. Juri was her name, she was a mean, mean person. I said, "you see, Frau Oberaufseher it was all there. It was all there." She did it on purpose. Just to pull some kind of trick over me. They remembered all those things. There was a young girl. A young, strong, fifteen-year old. In the night when everybody was asleep--she couldn't sleep, she was too...she couldn't sleep so she stealed bread. So in the morning they came and they said to--they knew already who steal, I'm not gonna do something about it. They gonna go to the Aufseher. So after, after one of--they came home from work, I got a hold of her--Taddy was her name--I said, "Taddy everybody gets the same amount of bread. How come you steal it?" She said, "Chari, I'm hungry." I said to her, 'You know what then? I'm getting two, two plate full of soup. If you promise me you're not going to steal, I'm gonna give you the whole plate. One plate for you." I never ???. She never stole anymore. She was so good whatever I told her. She would do anything.

Did she survive?

I don't know. I didn't find anything, anybody who survived. Besides ??? Yeah there is one woman, she was a doctor survived. She was in the kitchen. She was the main cook. The name was Chantal. She survived.

Was she any relation to you?

No. No, that I know.

What made you um, decide to come to Detroit?

We were in Prague. I had an uncle who was studying here in America. He had a sister, his first wife's sister lived here. And they said that the people uh, living here in Detroit--his sister's mother lived in Pittsburgh and he married here in Detroit. His first wife, had a cousin here in Detroit who were friendly with an aunt of mine. And he talked to him to get married. He was a sick man ??? And so she--he got married to that second wife. So we wanted to be together. So we came here first. And we had uh, in New York we had an aunt, so she send the papers for my sister, my two brothers and my uncle send the papers for me and my husband and I had three children already. I had my daughter, Eva and I have twin boys.

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