Survivor STORY

Frieda Kiwetz Amir was born in Zbaraz, Poland, and grew up in Krakow. Frieda worked for Oskar Schindler throughout the war, first in his enamelware factory in the Plaszow camp and later in Brunnlitz, in Czechoslovakia. Before the Brunnlitz factory was completed, the Schindler Jews spent several weeks incarcerated in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

After liberation, Frieda emigrated to Israel, where she married and raised her family. Frieda moved to Atlanta to be near her daughter and her family.

Day of Liberation

They said, I don't know Russian, but I remember they said [Russian phrase], something. "We liberated you! You are free now!" It was, it was like a dream. It was like a dream. It was on the eighth. On the 6th of May it was my birthday. I remember the birthday present I got from my friend. She took a half a piece of bread, put butter on it, or margarine, and made a very nice design with sugar and jam. I remember. And we knew that they are coming. Most Germans fled the camp. They went away, the Germans, the supervisors. So, and then we stayed a few days in the apartments, apartment, which we found empty. The Germans fled, they left the furniture, they left the books. I remember the first time I saw a book after so many years. And then they brought us with a train to Krakow. I didn't have much hope, because I have heard of Belzec and all. But I hoped that maybe my brother; he was so young.

Talking about the Holocaust

First of all, I want to tell you that my children knew nothing, almost nothing about it until this day, until Schindler's List, until the movie. My sons says, "Ema, I didn't know that it was like that." And it, even in Schindler's movie, Schindler's camp was a good one - even there it was worse than it was shown in the movie. "I didn't know." Because I couldn't talk about it. As I told you, my only dream was to forget. To forget. I don't want to talk about it. I want to be normal like all the other people. I want to have a family again. I want to -everybody who met me, who knew me, "You are not studying? Are you not going to the university?" I didn't want to. I wanted to marry, to be a mother, to be a wife.

Judaism and Jewishness

I was very religious even in the camp. I tried to be. I remember in Pesach [Passover] I didn't eat bread, I only ate potatoes. But all other things I did eat. After the war, I was religious. Only after I got married, my husband wasn't, but he wouldn't disagree, he wouldn't object, absolutely not. I felt that being in Israel and living a free life here; that's enough. God doesn't need me to do that. Not that I lost...There were times when I lost my belief in God in general, because, you know, after what happened. But then I thought, this is all… you know, what is the meaning of life? Everybody dies, everybody suffers. That's what we are born for. The minute we are born we are destined to suffer and die, to have some joy too, but that's the way it is. So, I consider God as a higher power that doesn't really care. It cares of what is going on in the world, but it doesn't matter to Him whether I do this mitzvah [good deed] or another one. You have to be a moral person and - you see, I always regarded myself not as a good person, but a just person. I always thought, "I'm not good. I don't want just to go and give my money away or do – I just want to see justice.” When I saw unjustice, this always hurt me.

Coping

I'll tell you, this is incurable. It has changed. Time has changed a lot, but there are some things that never leave you, that never leave you: the loss of your parents, of your brother, the sights you saw, the execution sights, though I didn't see well - it was all blurred before my eyes. And then, in Israel, I was always afraid I would lose the bit of happiness. I was always afraid of that. And when I lost husband, I said, "You see? You lost him. You see?" So when you have someone and you love someone, there always is this possibility that you will lose him, but no way you can change it, and no way to do it right, that's the way it goes. So, my only wish is to see nachat [pleasure] now from my children, and if I go, to go without suffering, and to know that I leave a happy family behind me, and they are all here. They are all here. That's all.

Frieda Kiwetz Amir