Article in the Mobile Register, January 27, 1995
Terrible images of Auschwitz vivid
After 50 years, concentration camp survivor Frieda Freidman can't forget the horror
By George Werneth
She lost her mother, her father, her first husband and her eight brothers.
Frieda Freidman of Mobile, born a Polish Jew, spent the five years of World War II herded through a web of Nazi camps meant to work her to death if she was not put to death.
"I was the only survivor in my family," the petite, 80-year-old woman said in an interview Thursday in her tiny west Mobible apartment.
Tears welled in her grayish eyes as she talked for about an hour on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She did not need the flow of television images Thursday to tell her what Auschwitz looked like.
Forced into Nazi camp labor soon after Poland's collapse in 1939, she spent two years making German uniforms and clothes in Plaszow, near Krakow.
Oskar Schindler would set up his factory there and save 1,110 Jews on his "list" of laborers. But, like so many others, she was on other lists.
She was shipped on to the Bergen-Belsen camp and one day, she found herself on the way to Auschwitz, with 120 others.
"They took us to put us in the gas chamber," she said Thursday, matter-of-factly. "They put 80 people in the gas chamber and took the rest of us back to Bergen-Belsen."
She would have died later, only three months before the European war ended, had she felt like eating when the Germans running Bergen-Belsen made a vegetable soup laced with glass.
Mrs. Friedman told the story in a book entitled "legacies" published in 1993 by Harper Collins, a chronicle of the death camps by Jewish survivors.
"The Germans finally began feeding people. They gave everyone a soup of carrots, potatoes and ground glass, which they made to seem like flour," a portion of her story reads. "I think by then they knew they were going to lose the war and they wanted to destroy the evidence of what they had done before the Allies came." She said Thursday, "They ate and people were dying, dying, dying."
It was her sickness that saved her. She had been in the typhus ward with about 2,000 other girls.
"I had been very sick and had a lot of temperature," she said. In her fever, she dreamed that her dead mother came to her and fed her "all the foods that I loved."
She said she wasn't hungry when the soup sereving began and did not partake. "So, I was a survivor out of all of those people who dropped dead."
After the war, Mrs. Freidman went to Sweden, where she met her second husband, Salomon Friedman, and had two children.
The family moved to New York within a few years, living there until about three years ago, she and her husband set out for the South and Mobile. He died about a year ago.
She has a daughter, Rachael Borak, who teaches in Mobiloe. Her son, Max J. Freidman, is a writer who lives in New York.
Looking back on her sufferings in the Nazi camps and the loss of so many loved ones, she said, "I feel very bad. I feel very sorry. I cry in the night. I cry a lot."