Survivor STORY

Pola Rusinek Fraley grew up in Sosnowiec, Poland, one of nine children. Pola's parents tried to save her by sending her to live with a gentile family, but she was discovered and deported to the Parschnitz concentration camp, a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen. Pola's parents, her five brothers and two sisters were murdered during the Holocaust.

After liberation, Pola met her husband, Simon Fraley, in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. The Fraleys, with their year-old daughter, Phyllis, emigrated to America and resettled in Atlanta, where Pola's sister, Jean Rusinek Greenbaum, also made a new home. Pola has two children and one grandchild.

Survival in Europe

It was a different world, and it was unbelievable. I was in camp, and now I survived, and now I have to start, I have a family now, I got married. And, it was nice, I was thinking that we are lucky that we survived, we were just going to make somehow, now.

Learning English

I bought the groceries, went over there. Oh, this is a book to write, really. I knew where to get off. And back, I didn't know where to tell him to stop. And I asked him how, I said, "How far is it to this, to the street what I wanted to get off?" And I, when I asked him, "How wide is it?" [Yiddish phrase]
Simon: How far. Say "far."
Pola: The man took me to the dead end and then he brought me back, and finally I got off in the place where I had to get off. And I had two bags of groceries, so what could I do, I couldn't carry them both. And I think I had Phyllis with me?
Simon: No.
Pola: No, I didn't have maybe Phyllis with me. So, I took one bag at a time, because they were heavy. I took one bag and walked half a block and then I put down the bag and I went to get the other one. I'm telling you.
Simon. She make sixteen trips maybe.
Pola: Till I got home with the groceries, because was no car, was no transportation.
Simon. No car.
Pola: No. We didn't have a car.

What exactly did you tell the bus driver in English?
Pola: I told him "How wide is it." To the street.
Simon: "How far" is "wide." In Yiddish is [Yiddish phrase].

Importance of Family

Simon: They turned out great.
Pola: I'm really happy the way they are, really. Steve is a nice grown man now and Phyllis is unbelievable. She's, I'm really proud of her. She just, I couldn't help her much, really. We couldn't, you know, we couldn't help them, not financially. But how, what she has to do to and to accomplish in life, things, like others do. She did everything on her own. She couldn't really expect much, really.
Simon: She was dressed nice, and she has everything a kid wants, but we weren't American, we didn't know, we didn't know the language, how to teach them, how to help them out in school.
Pola: This was the first thing what I always did try to give them, not to be behind. They had nice clothes, and I wanted them to feel just like American people here.

Pola Rusinek Fraley