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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                    FRIEDA AMIR


                                        RUTH EINSTEIN

DATE:                                 APRIL 27, 2001

LOCATION:                       ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)


Frieda (Fradel) Kiwetz was born in Zbaraz, Poland on May 6, 1921. In 1926, her family moved to the Podgorze district in Krakow. Frieda’s younger brother attended a Mizhrahi and Tachkemoni school for boys, where their father was the principal. Frieda attended a nearby Hebrew school and tutored other students to help with family expenses. In the summers, the family lived at a summer camp where Frieda’s parents worked. Shortly after Frieda completed her schooling in 1939, the Germans invaded Poland. The Germans soon established a ghetto for permitted workers only in the Podgorze district. Since the family did not have permits, they moved to a nearby village until all area Jews were eventually forced to move into the Krakow ghetto. In the ghetto, Frieda found work at Oskar Schindler’s Deutsche Emailwarenfabric. Frieda’s parents and brother were deported in 1943 when the Krakow ghetto was liquidated during a series of actions. Frieda was sent to the Plaszow concentration camp but continued to work at Schindler’s factory. Eventually, she was transferred to a specially built barracks for the factory. When Plaszow was being dismantled in 1944, Schindler sought and obtained authorization to relocate his factory to Brunnlitz (Brünnlitz or Brnecec) in Czechoslovakia. Frieda was among the 300 to 400 Jewish women on a list drafted by Schindler whom the SS deported from Plaszow to Brunnlitz via Auschwitz-Birkenau. Frieda remained at Brunnlitz until the Russians liberated the camp on May 8, 1945.

Frieda returned to Krakow briefly after liberation before making her way to Linz, Austria. She lived in a Displaced Persons camp in Bad Gastein before moving to Salzburg to work for UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration). Then, with the help of the Brihah, she travelled to Italy, where she prepared for the journey to what was then still Palestine. Frieda arrived in Haifa soon after Israel declared its independence in 1948 and served in the Israeli army for a year before marrying another survivor, Menachem (Rosenzweig) Amir. The couple settled in Akko, Israel. Menachem remained in the Israeli army for a while and then fought in the first Sinai War as a reservist. Frieda taught at a Hebrew school until their two children were born. In 1963, the family moved to Bat Yam, outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. After Menachem’s death in 1968, Frieda went back to work. Around the time she retired, Steven Spielberg directed the movie, “Schindler’s List,” which recounted the efforts of Oskar Schindler to save the lives of the Jews that worked in his factory. Frieda can be seen in the movie, laying a rock on Schindler’s grave. After an illness in 2000, Frieda moved to Atlanta, Georgia to be near her children and grandchildren. Frieda died on October 14, 2011.

Scope of Interview

Frieda introduces her family. She describes her childhood and her education in Krakow, Poland. She recalls growing up in a very strict, religious environment, her exposure to Zionism, and her interactions with non-Jewish Poles. She explains how her family moved into the Krakow ghetto after the Germans occupied Poland in 1939. Frieda details working for Deutsche Emailwarenfabric, a factory owned by Oskar Schindler in nearby Zablocie. She recalls her family’s deportation and her move to the Plaszow concentration camp. She describes living conditions in the barracks later constructed at the factory. She recalls being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau for a brief period before being transferred to Brunnlitz, Czechoslovakia for the remainder of the war. Frieda expresses disappointment in her return to Poland after liberation. She characterizes her interactions with other prisoners in the camps and what motivated her to survive. She chronicles the first three years after liberation, which she spent in Austria and Italy. Frieda describes arriving in the newly independent Israel, serving in the army, and meeting her husband. She recalls her time in Israel establishing a home, raising a family, and dealing with her husband’s death. She discusses how the Shoah has affected her life and the lives of her children and grandchildren. Frieda concludes with a discussion of how her life in Atlanta, Georgia as an Israeli Jew is very different from American Jews. 

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