Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Wineman, Freda, 1923- (1 of 20) The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »
1988-11 and 1989-01
Is part of (Collection)
The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
Wineman, Freda, 1923- (speaker, male)
Sassoon, Taffy (speaker, female)
Part 1: Residence in Sarreguemines (Moselle) in Lorraine region of France. Mother (nee Mingelgrün) from Frankfurt; father from Lodz. Older brother David; younger brothers Armand and Marcel. First evacuation in 1938, because of proximity to Maginot Line. End August 1939, evacuation to Blamont (Meurthe et Moselle) following "debacle". 1940, the family take a flight to Vichy, followed by further flight to St. Etienne, where they "settled in". They work for a steel company. They barter nails for food in Le Puy-en-Velay, in the countryside. Spring 1944, her mother is arrested by the French Milice while bartering wine for coal. l7 May l944, Freda and her younger brothers are arrested by the Milice wearing civilian clothes, following Freda's unsuccessful attempt to help her brothers to escape. They are taken to the Gestapo Head Quaters, interrogated and beaten. 18 May, her older brother is also arrested by the Milice in a hospital following an eye operation. Family had planned to go into hiding in a convent in Le Puy-en-Velay, Drancy. Freda meets her future sister-in-law, Janine, who is also arrested despite 300 years of French pedigree. The German chief blames French Milice for family's arrest. Offers to pay Freda for typewriter confiscated from her flat. Transport to Auschwitz from Drancy. Conditions in the train. 3 June 1944, arrival in Auschwitz. Mother (holding Dutch woman's baby) and youngest brother sent directly to gas chamber. Freda is called back by Mengele.
Interviewee's note: Born Dvora Frieda Silverberg. Describes childhood in Sarreguemines (Moselle) in Lorraine, France. German mother, Polish father; religious Jews, Zionists. No experience of anti-Semitism before the war. Evacuation in 1938, because of proximity to Maginot line. Then again in 1939, to Blamont, following "debacle". Flight to Vichy in June 1940, and further flight to St Etienne where family settled. Arrested by French Milice in May 1944, taken to Gestapo?s Head Quarters, interrogated and beaten. Transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where her mother and brother were sent straight to gas chamber. Worked in trenches. Describes conditions in concentration camps; selections, role of the kapos, Dr Mengele, medical experiments on Jews, food, loss of faith in God by many prisoners (though Freda retained hers). Remembers singing in a whisper in Theresienstadt. November 1944, selected for transport to Bergen-Belsen. February 1945, transferred to Ragun camp, worked in aeroplane factory. Transferred to Theresienstadt (Terezin). 9 May 1945 liberated from Theresienstadt by Russians. Return to France. Attended Klaus Barbie's trial in Lyon; saw him identified; testified against French Milicie. After liberation, did not speak about her experiences, even with other survivors. Arrived in England in 1948 married and had children; hostility from in-laws, 20-year of legal battle with them after husband's death. Decision not to tell children of Holocaust experience. Need for contact with other survivors. Reunions and meetings in the USA and Israel. Ill-health, depression, anxiety. Hard to cope with everyday problems