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Frieda Reinstein

Frieda Reinstein
Nationality: Polish
Location: Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp • Buchenwald Concentration Camp • Feldafing • Germany • Louisiana • Missouri • Neustadt Labor Camp • New Orleans • Poland • St. Louis • United States of America
Experience During Holocaust: Family Died During the Holocaust • Family Died in Concentration Camp • Forced on a Death March • Helped by the Red Cross • Liberated • Lived in a Displaced Persons camp • Lived in Multiple Concentration Camps • Sent to Concentration Camp • Suffered from Disease • Was a Forced Laborer

Mapping Frieda's Life

Click on the location markers to learn more about Frieda. Use the timeline below the map or the left and right keys on your keyboard to explore chronologically. In some cases the dates below were estimated based on the oral histories.

“At this time I felt that strong. I don’t know, there was the nerves, there was young. And I told myself, 'I have to live and I get through it!' Few people couldn’t live through it. I don’t know how I did it, but mine goal was, 'I have to live through it and I’ll be living through it.'” - Frieda Reinstein

Read Frieda's Oral History Transcripts

Read the transcripts by clicking the red plus signs below.

Tape 1 - Side 1

HERMAN: My name is Hortense Herman.  I am interviewing Frieda Reinstein on Tuesday, May 20, 1986.  This tape is being made for the Oral History Project of the St. Louis Center for Holocaust Studies.
Frieda, let’s begin at the beginning.  Can you please tell me when you were born?
REINSTEIN: June 25, 1923.  I was born in Oswiecim, later renamed Auschwitz.  It was a nice city.  My mother was born in Auschwitz too and she got parents.
HERMAN: Your family had been there for a long time?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, and I got three brothers.
HERMAN: Where were you in your family?  Were you the oldest, the youngest?
REINSTEIN: I was the third one.
HERMAN: Tell me about your life, about your parents.
REINSTEIN: We were a very nice happy family and very Jewish.
HERMAN: What do you mean by that?
REINSTEIN: Very religious, a very religious family.  Both my father and mother was very religious.
HERMAN: How did you practice your religion?
REINSTEIN: I went to Hebrew school and to Bais Yaacov, it was called.  That was very religious organization in school.  And I went to a public school –
HERMAN: You did go to public school.
REINSTEIN: Oh yeah.  I went to public school, and then I went a few years to college – like high school, we called it.  But I didn’t finish with this.  We had a very happy home.
HERMAN: What business was your father in?
REINSTEIN: My father was – see, this was a very, very wealthy, we can say even a rich country there.  It’s not the city but like out of the city, like little countries where they made butter and cheeses and raised livestock and fish, and we transferred this everything to another city.  And he was involved in this.  We even transferred not far away, the Katowice they called it.  It was an overschlazen.  All the goods were transferred and two of my brothers and my father were involved in this.  He made a very nice living.
HERMAN: When you say a “nice living,” how did you live?  Did you live in a home?
REINSTEIN: Oh yeah, we got a nice home with nice furnitures and we was a nice family.  My mother got three sisters and two brothers and there was uncles and aunts and cousins.
HERMAN: And how would you celebrate the holidays?
REINSTEIN: The holidays were very, very nice.  The Jewish holidays was very, very happy occasions.
HERMAN: What about the people whom you lived among – your neighbors, the people you went to school with?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, most of them – all them good friends.  I still even have a friend who is living here in Chicago and we are very close.  I have people, friends who still live close, they call this lansleit.  They livin’ still in Israel and I got two cousins in Cincinnati and I got a cousin that live in Amsterdam – two of them, a sister and a brother.  Another cousin lives in Australia.  Our family was a very big family.
HERMAN: I see.  What about the people who weren’t Jewish?  Did you have any contact with them?
REINSTEIN: They was living, they was working for my father but there were very nice people who was living on the same street – down the street.  And they was very nice.  Everybody knew one another and we lived all together.  It was not a big city.  I can say it maybe was about 40,000 people or something like that but I don’t know exactly.  And most of them were only Jewish and then there were others, Catholics, but it was very nice and nobody got into it with anybody.
HERMAN: And when you went to school, did you encounter any anti-Semitism?
REINSTEIN: No, I didn’t feel any anti-Semitism, really and truly.  It was such a nice city and everybody was living together in big families.  I cannot say it nothing and I know my older brother the same way.  When he was learning to be a barber, he didn’t feel it.
HERMAN: So you feel that most people could pretty much do what they wanted to do?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, I can say that.  It really was a lovely city and I can say that it was so lovely that when the Germans came in, they knew they had got such a rich country around themselves.  I saw it – they took out all of the Oswiecim and they put a sign up, “This is our liebe Auschwitz.”  They put the name up,“Auschwitz.”  But when I was going to school in 1939, the war started.
HERMAN: What grade were you in at that point?
REINSTEIN: It was maybe the first or second year of high school.
HERMAN: How old were you?
REINSTEIN: I was this time 15 years old, 15½, something like that.  And when the war broke out – we didn’t know it – and they came in and they were saying that Auschwitz gonna be so good.  That we gonna live, they took all the Jews in one spot, all the families – this time was the whole family together and we came together in one place, like in a big place. And two big Germans came on their horses with white gloves and they told us that this was going to be the best city in the whole German Reich.  And here we gone and decided that we gonna make here a bakery, that we’re gonna bake bread that would be for whole Germany. (PAUSE)
HERMAN: How were you notified to go to this place by the Germans?
REINSTEIN: They came into the Jewish center, the Jewish, like synagogues.  There was beautiful, big synagogues and little Jewish very religious with the peyos, and the white socks, with everything – yet was little tiny – the Hasidim…Stubelich, little houses of worship, the Hasidim.  What they get together and they tell every place so that everybody has to be in that hour in that time, to be in this and this place.
HERMAN: They did that verbally?
REINSTEIN: Yes, verbally. This time we were living in our home and everything was perfect.  And they said about that stove, that they gonna make the bakery and they were going to bake bread for the whole Germany.
Well, everybody went home and we was very happy and we thought we were going to live and it wasn’t so bad and we were going to bake bread.  In the next few days, they came to all the Jewish stores, all the doctors, “Everything has to be closed.  No Jewish store, no Jewish factory, no Jewish anything.  Everything has to be closed.”  They want all the men from 16 to 60.  All of them have to be out in the morning and come to that big synagogue where my father was belonging.  And we have to go all out building the stove, the bakery.  They all went and they all went out to work day after day.  There was maybe for a few nice weeks they was building and building.  There the coldest; they went, the other city was before and somehow this city was – and we were living in the city.  There was a big bridge and after the bridge there was called in Polish, Brezeinka.  Brezeinka.  Brezeinka – this is the name “Birkenau.”  Before the war there was big Polish military tent there.  And it was new because they were building this years, but I don’t remember – they was building a new tent over there for the Polish military and the big horses and it was a big place.  And they took this place and they called it Brezeinka and there was Birkenau.  And then they get the name Birkenau.  So all the people went out and walked to it every day.  It was one month, maybe six weeks and my father came all the time home and he said what he and my brothers were doing.  But they were going to live and build the bakery.
One day when my father pulled up the bricks, came to him a Gentile guy, what he know him for years and he told him in Polish, “Listen Schlomko (his name was Solomon), I ran away because I know.  I heard that here Palonietkov, (HUSBAND HELPS TRANSLATE IN BACKGROUND) to burn Jewish people.”  Then he came home, he was very upset and he told this to mother and went right away to the synagogue and they all came together and was praying that this gonna be not true and this was never going to be happen and that somebody gonna help us.  Well, came a few days – maybe a week, two later, the stove was finished but they never knew that.  Came to them that this couldn’t be happening.  One day they came to the Jewish families, to the Jewish synagogue and they told them that they wanted to make a show and they wanted six beautiful young men; they all have to be in the ages 19 and 21 and they all have to be dressed just so.  They have to have the measurements in the shoulders, and looking this way.  And they gonna make a show in a theater that would be very good for our little town, for Oswiecim.
Well, they took it out from mine house where I was living, a gorgeous guy – he was looking very good, young, 20 years old.
HERMAN: Who was this man?
REINSTEIN: His name was Woolcon.
HERMAN: And how was he related to you?
REINSTEIN: No, he was just a neighbor; he was not related.  Then they took another young guy.  Well, they got all six guys, put them in an open truck and was drivin’ around the whole city.  I was standing outside looking and they was looking gorgeous – young boys 20, 21, 19.  And they said goodbye to us and went.
The next day came a telegram to those parents, “They are very sick, they got a heart attack.”  On the third day came six boxes of ashes.  When those boxes came (CRYING) it was just horrible.  The whole city was in one place and after that we saw what would happen.  Then right away, the next day, we saw people in pajamas, like pechakas; it was pajamas.  They went with trucks around the city and they pickin’ up all the people.  Then we knew that it was a gas chamber; there is not a bakery.  There was a bakery to make, to bake Jewish people, to kill people.
So they went around and next day they told the Jewish people that they wanted all the children – people had six children, eight children, five children – all has to be in one place tomorrow.  In the middle of the night, they came to pick them up.  They came in with trucks and took them all the people out and took them all to the gas chamber.
HERMAN: Where were you at this point?
REINSTEIN: I was with my parents, mine brothers.  This time they took the young people most of the very young people right away and we didn’t know where or when to look.
HERMAN: In this first?
REINSTEIN: This first, yeah.  I was still staying with my father because my mother was 46 and my father was 48.  They were still young people. (PAUSE)  Then they came and took away more children and older people and poor people – there was poor people too, you know.  And the middle people, like my father and me – there was still maybe 100 families.  They left us and they took us in a city to Sosnowiec, Bedzin, Sosnowiec.  They made us go there.  Half of them went to Bedzin and half to Sosnowiec.  We came to Bedzin.  And there was a Judenrein – Auschwitz was Judenrein, Auschwitz was cleared, Oswiecim was cleared from Jewish people.  The stove was there.  People were brought in from all – from every place to Auschwitz.
HERMAN: Did you actually see them bringing the people to Auschwitz?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, you can see – (HUSBAND SPEAKING IN BACKGROUND) I mean, I saw the people what came.  See, they brought from other cities the people in.  They put them in those striped uniforms and they put those people on the truck and they brought it around the city with the numbers on the backs and the star on the front, and a hat and everything.  They had to see what was going on in the city and they took them all around.  And sometimes they would take those people down, to take an old person up to the truck with those people, to Birkenau to the gas chamber.  So we saw, open eyes, what happened and what was going on, how it started…
HERMAN: How long would you say you saw that before you left?
REINSTEIN: Before we left it was 1940 – one year I saw what’s going on.  After that one year until the whole city, what left in Auschwitz was just a stove, the gas chamber.
And the Gentile was staying there, and the Gentile, how good they was with us.  I’m telling you, I was open one night, mine eyes, and I didn’t believe it because we knew there was no more tomorrow, that tomorrow we gonna be there.  There was a young fellow on the street.  He was so good to my father, to everybody.  And I walked by and I looked in the window because it was a low window, and I saw already, in the kitchen, through the kitchen, Hitler’s hanging – a big picture hanging on his wall.  And I saw him walk out in an SS uniform and I talked to him.  I said, “Stashic, what you doing?”  And he told me, (CRYING) “ I don’t know you. I don’t know you. You are Jude.”  I said, “Just a month ago we were playing outside.”  And he said, “I don’t know you, you are Jude.”  I just run away from him; I was scared. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND)  Jude means you a Jew.  So, you see, all the people right away changed because the party took all the Jewish homes with all the Jewish business and all the Jewish anything.
HERMAN: Did you ever see signs of those Christian people going into homes where they took things?
REINSTEIN: No, this was too soon.  There was going on like a wolkahn, like everything was cooking.  There was talk, “This one out,” and “this one out,” and the whole city was – I couldn’t see this going on because I was afraid and I was with my parents.
HERMAN: You weren’t able to go to school at that time?
REINSTEIN: No, no, everything was closed.  One night it was all the synagogues.  At this time half the city was already gone.  And one night all the synagogues were burned.  Everything that was there, everything was burned.
HERMAN: How did you get through the days?  What did you do with those days?
REINSTEIN: Nothing.  You just sat and looked out the window.  You were afraid to go out.  At night you couldn’t sleep because you knew that at any time they could knock on the door and just you’d be gone.  You was praying it’s over.  “Are we going there or are we going someplace else?”  There was only left in the whole city maybe a hundred or maybe over a little bit hundred in the whole city.  And they cleared up everything.  My father was _____.  He was, you know, a dedicated person and they knew it.  They left those what they wanted to on the list and the rest of them was everything gone, whole families – brothers, sisters, cousins.
So everything was gone.  There was nothing.  Then we went to Bedzin and the Jewish people gave us there a little room waitin’ for us.  There were still living people in Bedzin and they knew it.  They knew what was going on.  And we was there and we was stayin’ for – to live with somebody, and then it start over there again.  They took people out again.  They called us oblava.  You know, they came in the middle of the night and knocked on the door and took people out just the same way.
One day they decided that everybody had to come at the same time – there was Sosnowiec, Bedzin and Dumbrova.  Those were all little towns, like St. Louis, Kansas City and so so.  And this time in this place they would give everybody a little passport, like a little document with a stamp what we are, (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) identification and who we are.  This time I came with my mother and with my father and all of us dressed nice.  It was in the afternoon and we were standing on that punkt, they call it, center.  Four SS men came with horses, with white gloves and long sticks.  They stay on their horses and said they were going to make three lines.  Here going to be one line, there’s another line, and another line.  Here come only children with parents, here came parents with big children, and here comin’ older people.  They sat on their horses and makin’ with his stick, “Left, right, right, left.”  Who went right went straight down the street where there was a big train and all of them went into the train.  And me, I was going between my mother and my father and I had long hair.  They grabbed me by the back of the hair.  They throwed me on the side.  I saw my mother on the other side and my father on the other side and I was screaming to run to them.  But I was getting so much hit, so much beating (CRYING) and I didn’t know where I was – completely on the other side.  And I was sitting and laying down for a while – maybe a few hours.  I didn’t know where I was.  My father and my mother were gone, everything was gone, and just a few people were there.  And in back there was, before this was called like a sherocheen, like kids – a home just for kids.
HERMAN: An orphanage?
REINSTEIN: An orphanage, yes.  They took us there for a while.  Then I stayed there in that city, in Bedzin.  And almost all of the people was gone.  They made it like a ghetto.  They called it Srodula and Kamionka.  Then they put me to work.  I said I can sew and I was sewing there.  They called this rosnashop and I was sewing that uniform came back, that uniform what was tore it or something, I was sitting and sewing and praying to God to live and see the day. (CRYING)
HERMAN: Did they feed you?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, we getting food stamps – a book.  There was a little store where we went and we got one day a couple pieces bread and a little milk for the – what you can buy it, from the stamps.  We didn’t have any real money.  We knew that we would get those stamps what we get it.  Every person got so much a day and that’s what you had to live with that.  And that’s what I was living maybe a year like this.
HERMAN: Were you with other people?
REINSTEIN: Yes.  I was with another girl who was separated from her parents the same way.  They went to the gas chamber and to the stove – to the train.  And we lived together.  But when we woke up everyday, they started to take again.  Every night they were coming in the house and taking one person out and then another person, just like that.  In fact, it was not far away from me was living a mother with two daughters.  One night they came and took us all out and again, they do the same thing.  And I was going with my girlfriend.  She was a little bit chubbier than me and she was going.  And the men said, “You go on this side, and you go on this side.”  And the mother was going on this side and the two daughters were on this side and again we wound up not knowing what happened to them.  And we started screaming.  When they let us go, we saw that my girlfriend is not near there and the mother is left, with the two daughters not there.  So I still was living with the lady who lost the daughters and I lost my girlfriend.  And I knew that everyday, every month…
I got a brother (PAUSE) what I found out that he is a zipush, a concentration camp.  And I wrote to him the last letter and I told him, I said, “That’s it because my tomorrow I will be not there no more.” (CRYING)
He was in that zipush; they called it Calay, there was one guy and he told him he said he gonna try to go out and do something to help.  My brother told him, “If I live…” His name was Barak Awent, and…

Tape 1 - Side 2

HERMAN: How did you find out about the fact that he was in the concentration camp?
REINSTEIN: I found out because he was a barber and he was helping shave people in the concentration camp.  And he got a good fellow, what I don’t know how he went out, and when we left the city, Auschwitz, somebody saw him pickin’ up something and somebody told me where he is and that’s why I tried to write.  I didn’t have any ________, but I just wrote.  He could not find me but I just wrote to death and they saw what happened.  He and another guy saw what happened to the city.  I don’t know how he went because this was not so strong.  It was a concentration camp but the light side was open. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND)  They was building and tearing down like a labor camp.  They was tearing the houses.  They had to be there because they was counting on them, was counting every night.  But they went during the day to do something and see what’s going on outside.  But they went back on the same day.
The other guy told my brother he was gonna run away from that and do something to help the people.  So he told him he got a sister there and he gonna give him anything in his life to help me. (CRYING)
One day I came home from that sewing shop what I was working, and I got a note by the door, in Polish, to come in to that house in this and this time.  And this house was not a house, was broken everything, was just a basement.  It was like walking into a hole in a basement, a cellar.  And I showed this to the lady what I was living with – she had lost her daughters.  And she said, “Don’t go, they’re gonna kill you there.”  And I said, “I be killed tomorrow anyhow.”  I wanted to find out what is there.  So, I went to that cellar and I went down.  There was sitting two guys.  And they saw me and they said, “Oh,” they thought I’m blond.  I had black, long hair.  And they said, “Oh my God, she has such black, dark hair, long hair.  She is Jewish.  She looks like she’s Jewish.”  And I said, “Who you are and what you want?”  They said, “You wanted to go to your brother.  So, change yourself.  There’s a ghetto; we have to run out from the ghetto.  Do you ready for?”  And I said, “Yeah.”  And they asked, “What if they kill you?”  And I said, “So I’ll be killed.”  And they said, “Okay, if you say like this.  So you’re going tomorrow in the morning at four o’clock in the morning when it’s dark.”  And they gave me a piece of paper, and the paper was written my name, a German name, Maria something, and a document with a different state. (HUSBAND SPEAKING IN BACKGROUND) And they said to go on home and arrange my hair into two buns like a schoolgirl and put on a white something and they gave me like a briefcase to carry like I go to school.  They gave me a band with a (ASKS HUSBAND FOR WORD) sticker, and it said, “You’re going out in 1942.”  He said, “You can’t go as a Jew, as a plain guy.  You have to have something on it.”  And I said, “I have no money, I have nothing.”  And he said, “We  give you everything but we just going to go on the eyes.  Where we are going, you are going.  You are going close to us.  We show a ticket which was left at some place on a bar and from a paper, or they will just kill you and cut you to pieces.  You don’t know us.  You don’t know who we are.  And if they catch us and cut us, we don’t know about you.  So we don’t know each other completely.  We’ll just go on an eye and a look.  I’ll read the paper, you go by.  You go back and sit down and there you got a ticket.  If I go by this door, you go to the 10 behind me, this door.”  Everything was like that.  And I said, “Okay, I’ll see you at four o’clock in the morning right there.”
I came there and there was Jewish militants staying, watching that ghetto because was wire all around.  But pick up the wire.  I was pushed out and it was hot, and the Jews said, “Where are you going?  We’ll shoot you!”  I said, “Mercy, don’t shoot me.  If they shoot me, fine, but…” And I went through and they went through, and we went out on the street.  He was staying one corner and I was staying one corner and the streetcar was coming. And the streetcar came, the door opened and I walk in straight through the door and I put up my hand and said, “Heil Hitler,” and walked straight through and sat down in a chair.  Whoever walks in that door has to say something.  And I was going dressed like that, and they was dressed like from a…train – you know train, who direct them.  Dressed like – you go into a train station, you know the uniform from a train?
HERMAN: Oh, a conductor?
REINSTEIN: Conductor, right, like a conductor, just like that.  They went just the same way in – one went only in and the other one went someplace else.  I only went with one.  The other one I don’t saw.  And the one went in and said just the same what I said earlier and sat down between two ladies.  And laughing, joking, was talking perfect German and he was talking very nice, and was laughing, talking.  And I was sitting in the back and then I saw he pulled the string down and said to the ladies, “Auf Wiedersehen,” you know in German, and “Leibe Frau,” and this and he went out.  I went out after him, but I didn’t have a ticket again to go in another little train.  So he was reading the papers and staying and looking at that, and I saw him.  And then he took something and he went through it, and I went there and in a little paper I found a little ticket and I went behind him all day until I came to that concentration camp, to that zipush, they called it.  It’s Bechenstohova, and at Bechenstohova he went out and I went out.  Further down I saw my brother.  He (PAUSE) he was staying with a German guard.  He was a very old guy; an Oberschaufuhrer, they called this, and he was staying with him with a bike.  He picked up his mail with that bike.  He knew I was to be there but he couldn’t talk to me because I was a German lady.  And I saw him (CRYING) and I couldn’t talk to him.  So I went through and I went out.  The other guy ran from one side to the station on the corner because he has to change to run away in the other corner.  I didn’t know where I come when I came out from the station, so only I was looking and turning my head looking.  And I look at my brother and he showed me “that way.” (CRYING) Straight there was a forest.  And now, he took the bike and I saw him picking up the mail.  The Oberschaufuhrer went on a motorcycle and he went after him with his bike and I was slowly walking through and he showed me in the back with one finger, “That way.”  And I went in a big forest and I turned off quick at the bend and was staying by a big tree hiding and wondering which way to go.  So he went back to that camp.  That’s when I was safe.  I was not safe; I was safe for awhile.  This I was not saved – I was saved because that girlfriend what – that lady and that’s only what I was looking for – after the war I never could find nobody.  But after that the whole place was Judenrein and everybody was Judenrein – Sosnowiec and Bedzin was Judenrein, nobody was there.
HERMAN: Clean up…
REINSTEIN: Clean up everything.  There I was maybe six months with my brother.
HERMAN: And you were safe there?
REINSTEIN: Yes I was safe.
HERMAN: You didn’t have to hide?
REINSTEIN: No, no.  That was a camp.  I went out to work in the fields, oh yeah.
HERMAN: Did the Germans know you were there?
REINSTEIN: See, there was – never they asked what happened.  He never know that – I mean, we got the same name.  My name was Awent.  I was born Awent.  He never said I came from Sosnowiec, so far away.  He said I came from a closer city.  People from that city came to that lager, to that camp.  And we just came in from another city, but not from so far a city, from a closer city.  So I was there maybe for six months and I was working the fields and went out to pick the cotton and everything.  And then one day came this Judenrein too.  They didn’t want that little open concentration camp nomore.  They wanted a big concentration camp.  One day they came and took all the people in one place.  It was like a police yard, a big, big police station and they took all the people from that same camp and they took us and split us.  Girls, ladies, women separate and men separate.  And my brother went I don’t know where.  I went to Buchenwald and from Buchenwald was staying a few days and then went to a camp they called this Neusatz, and there I was working in a big factory.  They makin’ thread there.  This was (SPEAKS TO HUSBAND AWAY FROM TAPE RECORDER) in the east part of Germany and I was there living until so long we was staying there until we came up closer.  It was German; there was a lady Judenalteste, and there was…
HERMAN: When you were in this camp making the thread – well, you said there were Germans there?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, the Germans – the Nazis watched over us, and there was thousand girls, thousand Jewish, young girls from all over Poland.  They was from other cities –
HERMAN: You said the word Judenalteste.
REINSTEIN: There was one of them from out of a thousand girls.  They took out this – maybe every place was it.  They pickin’ up the tallest, the beautiful girl and they make it that she take care.  See, the SS men, the Nazis didn’t came straight to me to tell me that I have tomorrow be and stay and count.  She was the one what she came to every barrack, to every room and tell us that tomorrow at five o’clock we have to be in the morning, right there, to count, to die, we have to be count.  Nobody ran away from the thousand girls.  So every barrack of two hundred, or a hundred girls, we were always – this barrack is tomorrow morning; this barrack is in the morning, before we walk out to the factory.  Every morning we was standing and we was count, and every time that we came back from the factory we was count.
HERMAN: How long did that process usually take?  The counting?
REINSTEIN: Not too long.  But came out, two or three of the SS men.  There was 250 who went out in the morning and you was count 20 or 50, you goin’.  There came another – the door was opened, and there came another 50 count, and we was goin’.
HERMAN: What was the weather like at this point?
REINSTEIN: It was cold there and we didn’t have any clothes too much.  We just go in wooden shoes, and they gave us a pair of pants, you know, something to put on.  When we came to the barracks it was cold and raining and they gave us one piece of bread and one cup of soup that it was green like spinach.  I hate spinach if I see it now because it was like a grass soup, and with this you have to live.  When you were sick, they would hold you for a few days.  One day when winter it was very snowy.  This was just a fact.  Was such a beautiful girl, and I was working with her.  I came with her from Klaubuitz, from that other what I was with my brother.  And they took us in the factory by the machine where there were dry strings from the filth and we had to chop this.  So they took the tall girls to chop the string and I was by the machine for quite a while.  And then I was released to go to the machine.  And the Oberschaufuhrer – his name was Grundke, I remember his name.  I was told I could be released and the other one come to me and I was goin’ to the other machine.  So she came in and I told her, I said, “Listen, you can’t think anything because the knife was going.  You put the hand in and the knife came and chop it off – cut it, true.”  And I said, “Don’t have anything in your mind, just when you see the knife is coming, grab the hand out.”  She was thinking something or she was crying and the knife came and chopped it off, half her hand.  And when that hand came out, she was treated two days only, who was sick, something like that, right away they went to the gas chambers.  Next two days you don’t saw no more.  And I didn’t saw no more; how I am liberated, I never saw her no more.  I was always askin’ about it, maybe she went someplace.  By the way, what I forgot, how long you can work, can use you workin’, and if you couldn’t work, if you were sick or something happened, the next two days you was goin’.  Never heard from again.
HERMAN: What was your health like?
REINSTEIN: Thank God, I was – you wouldn’t believe it, I was really healthy.  I was, really felt that being scared was to say what happened.  If you felt sick or something, you just tried to keep on going.  Depression, you was very hungry, you was very cold, you was very, and you just tried, just with one mind, you have to put in your head.  You have to live through.  You have to live through.  There come a day what we gonna be free.  That’s all.  When you give up this, you don’t wake up the next day in the morning.  There was girls who said, “I don’t wanna live no more.”  And there wasn’t – the next day they don’t live no more.  And I was just keepin’ on going, saying, “I have to live.” (CRYING) And I have to live ’til the end.
In fact, I got a cousin, what she was with me in this same concentration camp.  She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Her name is Riga Mandelbaum.  And they wanted to clean up the concentration camp.  So we started walking and we was walking, we made it maybe 20 miles.  They split a thousand girls into groups of 250.  And we started walking.  I don’t know where we walked or what day in the morning we walked out.  We was walking 250 girls straight down the road someplace; we was walking until we came to Bergen-Belsen.  And when we came to Bergen-Belsen, I saw the door was open, they wait for us already.  Half of them, maybe 50 died on the way.  The gate was open.
HERMAN: How many days would you say that it took you to get there?
REINSTEIN: Oh, we didn’t know what it was day or night or years…I don’t know how long it took.  I know it was like in the springtime because in worse weather we couldn’t have walked.  And –
HERMAN: Did you ever get to rest as you were walking?
REINSTEIN: Yes, when we came to the night we went through to a little town what they got a farm someplace there.  They’ll open this, what they got the straw inside.
HERMAN: The barn.
REINSTEIN: The barn.  They let us in to stay there, sleeping over there on the floor.  There was already, everything was arranged, looked like, they knew that we coming there. And that probably must be because the barn was open.  And he knew it – the two SS men, every 250 was two or three SS men. Most of them older ones, older men, right away we came and they said we gonna sleep right there.  They was sleeping probably outside or – I don’t know.  They was watching us, but we slept in that barn.
HERMAN: And they gave you food?
REINSTEIN: No, no, nobody gave us anything.  We woke up in the morning and we still keepin’ on going.  What food?  No food, no nothing.  And there was no way to sneak nothing, there was nothing.  They would brought us one time water, I remember, but three was killed.  A little wagon came and brought pieces of bread which was dry.  And a few of them went there and grabbed it and one of them, just kidding, he said in German not to touch this, to wait.  And one girl just grabbing a piece of bread and hide it behind.  He wanted to show us what he could do.  And they shot her and left her.  We screamed and was crying and we was screaming, and we went back together and started walking again.
And I’ll tell you, if you have time, I can just tell you a fact.  I was strong enough to run away, but I couldn’t stay.  I don’t know, when we was walking, it was so cold and was so dark and we was walking on the edge of a little road.  And I lookin’ down and there was little houses.  They was so cozy and warm.  I saw, like the things come out, the smoke from the little chimney.  And I was so bitter and I said, “That was the life.  What’s gonna be.”  And I just sit – he was walking, and I look and the two SS, was two older men, the Nazis, was walking up front.   And I pushed myself like I’m hurt and I pushed myself in the back.  And I sittin’ for a minute and I slumped down, down through the big hill down.  And I thought they gonna shoot me and I was just waiting until the bullet was coming, but they went through and the bullet didn’t came.  And it was dark, and it looked like in the night he was countin’.  And I went down and I straight myself up and I looked up and said, “I still alive.  I still don’t have no bullet nowhere.”
And I was lucky enough that our barrack was not put the number on.  We should have get the number.  This day for me worked out, and we didn’t have the number.  That might be the luckiest thing.  And I went a little bit down, and I went a little bit further, and I knock on the door to a German guy.  There was older two people and I can speak a little English (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) German, and…sorry, (LAUGHTER) not my English, my German.  And I knocked on the door and I told them, I said, “I’m German and I’m lost.  My parents went away and I don’t know where I am.”  And the older man came out and said, “Oh, sehen nor schoena madle and yunge kin bist du.” In German. “Oh, such a young kid is here.  Where did you lost?”  And I said, “I don’t know, my parents went and I’m just lost.  They died – I don’t know what happened.  Can I stay here for a little bit?”  And he said, “Oh yeah,” and he called the old lady out and she said, “Oh, we like you, you are so thin.  Do you want to take off your coat?  You are welcome here.  We give you something to do.  You don’t have to go to your parents.  You are going to stay with us.”  And we went in and they gave me a bowl of soup and they took the clothes and put mine old clothes, you know, and put me together.  And she showed me the little bed I gonna have, and a little room.  Then in the morning I can go out, and take the clothes, until I find my mother and father.  I thought they would recognize me because I am dark, you know, and I looked Jewish.  But they didn’t recognize me nothing.
And I said, “Okay, I stay overnight,” and I went and washed myself up and I drank a bowl of soup and I went – probably I fell asleep right away.  But I woke up in the morning.  I heard a radio is playing and people laughing.  I opened the little door and lookin’ out I saw a big picture of Hitler.  The old man goes in a uniform, a Nazi uniform.  And I start crying on that pillow.  I said, “My God, I can not take this and I want to die right now here.  I don’t want to live. (CRYING) I want to be with my parents.  And it’s over!”  And one thing I have to decide is, I couldn’t do that.  And I went up from the bed and opened still the little door and I see two other men sitting there.  And I hear, “Juden and Juden,” and kill and dead and imagine that the Juden are dead and is finished and they laughing and drinking and the old man with them together.  And the lady serving, you know, the old lady.  And I said, “No, I can’t take this.”  I went out in the morning, and it was early in the morning.  I went out quietly, and went, took off that what she gave me to put on overnight, I put it on the bed and I went out to my clothes, what I got  outside.  I found the clothes; I put my clothes on.  And the old men they were sleeping because they probably was going all night with their uniforms.
And he saw me just, the door is open, and I ran out, and he came and grabbed me.  And I said, “Listen, I want to go away.  I can’t be here.  I have to run.”  And he said, “Why?”  I said, “I feel better now and I want to run.  I mean, I want to go looking where my parents were.”  And he said, “What parents?”  And I said, “Please,” and he didn’t let me go.  And then the old wife heard this that something going wrong.  And I start crying and I said in German, “Leave me alone, leave me alone.  I am fine but I want to look for my parents.”  And the old lady came out and I said, “Please, if you want to kill me, kill me right there.”  I said, “I lost from the transport and I’m a Jude, I’m Jewish.  If you want to kill me, you just can kill me.”  He knew where that the transport was going but he did not believe it that I can run away from that transport, that I can throw myself down or something.  They both was talking and he was very wild and she was wild too.  And they was talkin’ both not to kill me, looked like.  And he went out and he took a little carriage with a horse – and a wagon.  He put me on that wagon and I said, “Please, kill me here, don’t take me no more.”  I said – and I begged him to where I was going, and I cried for him and I beg him, and beg him and I said, “I go back to where I come from,” and he didn’t said a word to me, nothing.  And he took me like to the police and there was – he came in and ran in there to those two Nazi police.  Came out two Nazis with two carbines, big men.  And I look at this and was crying and begging.  And they went and took a big truck and they put me on the truck, and one of them was staying like that with me.  You know, I was sitting and he was staying with me and holding that carbine at me.  And he took me and I went back to – opened the gate and took me into Bergen-Belsen.  They brought me in, that I’m lost from the transport and they found me and they brought me back into the transport.  They already was waiting, you know, they was counting, that one of them was missing, and I was missing.  The one big came there and ask me.  I said I fall down and nobody pick me up and I didn’t said nothing about…And I’ll be strong to stay by the guy and I might be live, live Italy – left Italy.  You know, the war was maybe a couple months earlier.  And I went back to Bergen-Belsen and was there 60,000 people.  And I suffered there and I was liberated April 12 (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND), April 15, 1945.

Tape 2 - Side 1

HERMAN: My name is Hortense Herman.  I am interviewing Frieda Reinstein on Tuesday, June 9, 1987.  This tape is being made for the Oral History Project of the St. Louis Center for Holocaust Studies.
Frieda, when we were together last, you told me how you had been taken by the Nazis, in whose house you had stayed, that they had taken you back to Bergen-Belsen and that you explained to the people at Bergen-Belsen that you had fallen and no one picked you up.
REINSTEIN: Well, when I came to Bergen-Belsen, I thought that they gonna send me to die, yeah, that they gonna send me to die.  I stay all night by the wall, with my hands up and I was punished because I did run away.
HERMAN: They put you at a wall?
REINSTEIN: Yeah by the wall.
MR. REINSTEIN: They punished her. (OVERTALK)
REINSTEIN: But I had to turn around with my face to the wall, with my hands up and this was – I was stayin’ all night and all day.  And I was (PAUSE)
HERMAN: If you can, don’t be upset.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, I thought then, this is my death.  And then…I stood there all night.  But they didn’t have too much time this time no more to shoot, to kill people, so they took me in a special barrack and there was like punishment every minute I was in that.  And I was have to lay down, and stand up and then outside ran out there was special people for this sign up.  And there was shooting down in the, the – concentration – in the Bergen-Belsen, in this lager down there and they was saying that, “In any minute, we should get that bread to eat it.” (OFF TAPE, HILDA HAD EXPLAINED THAT THERE WAS POISONED BREAD TO BE GIVEN TO THE INMATES OF THE CAMP SO THAT THEY WOULD DIE BEFORE THE ALLIES ARRIVED.)  60,000 people, Jewish people, thought they were going to die any minute, at any time.
HERMAN: I see.  But you – specifically – there was a certain place because you were being punished and there was someone who was watching you and forced you to lie down and stand up and do things.  But you didn’t do anything but be punished?  Is that right?  Did they ever give you food?
REINSTEIN: I was just being punished.  No, no food, no there was no food, the last things was no food at all.  We was just living like that for good five days.  And then all of a sudden while we was in that room, and we should stand up and go out, making that exercise like stand up and goin’ outside, nobody came in through the door and we was looking out and nobody – was quiet.  Nobody show up.  So, we looked out the door and there was nobody around.  Then we look out on the tower and nobody was on the tower.  So I was by myself, just went on my stomach and went through – how should I say.
HERMAN: Barbed wire?
REINSTEIN: Not barbed wire, but just was like to a little…grass, and a little trees, and we was looking down what’s going on.  And slowly, slowly we was going down and they was saying that Germans didn’t have time no more and there was –
HERMAN: Who was saying that?
REINSTEIN: Who was saying that?  The other people.  And then when I came to the barrack and everybody said, “Oh my God, we thought they shoot you.”  And it was quiet in the whole camp and everything, and then all of a sudden after maybe the whole, the evening, then we heard some tanks going in, tanks going in, and then came in (HUSBAND IN BACKGROUND) the British. (CRYING)
HERMAN: That’s right, and you have every reason to cry because that was a special day, I know, in your life.  But you are saying that you saw no Germans around and you spent the day there even though there was nothing to keep you there?  People didn’t see that there were no Germans and they didn’t run out of the camp?
REINSTEIN: No.  Nobody couldn’t run out because right away came in the…(SPEAKS TO HUSBAND; BOTH TRY TO EXPLAIN WHO CAME IN)
HERMAN: Oh, there were Ukrainians?
REINSTEIN: There was Ukrainians, that’s right. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND)  But then after a while they came the Ukrainians, and they was start watching things.  But then Britain came in; the tanks was just horrible.
HERMAN: It was horrible?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, because they came in, and they all in the tanks and you didn’t saw who it was.
HERMAN: (SPEAKING TO MR. REINSTEIN) Okay.  Now, Alex, you weren’t with Frieda at this time, but you know what happened.  Now you tell me how things went before the Germans disappeared.
HERMAN: Now, you tell me, Frieda, when you woke that day and there was no one on the tower, you went to the people in the barracks from where you had been.  Is that right?
REINSTEIN: Yes.  Well, this time was quiet and then after a while, maybe after a few hours or so, came the Ukrainians, and the Ukrainians, they was just murderers.  And who move out, they shooting down too.  But when the tanks came in, we was just very scared because we don’t know who was that.
HERMAN: So that frightened you, is what you’re saying.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, everybody was frightened.  The English people was inside, everybody.  The tanks was closed.  Just the tank move in, one of them, then another one.  The second one got a white flag and then when we saw the white flag, we just, everybody ran out.  Imagine there’s so many thousands of people running out!
HERMAN: It was a very emotional time.
REINSTEIN: Yes.  The people was just kissing the tank and die.
HERMAN: And they died, really.
REINSTEIN: I was this time young and I just want to help it so much.
HERMAN: You wanted to help the people?
REINSTEIN: The people, yeah. I just took ’em (CRYING)  –
HERMAN: If you’re upset…don’t be upset.
REINSTEIN: No.  I took them to my hand – I just can’t talk because you remember a lot of things; it hurts you.
HERMAN: Of course, of course.
REINSTEIN: So I took a few people my hand and I was keepin’ sayin’, “Live, live!”
HERMAN: That was a very hard thing to do.
REINSTEIN: Yeah.  And they just died. (CRYING)
HERMAN: Can I ask you a question?  Why do you think that you were strong enough to help someone else?
REINSTEIN: At this time I felt that strong.  I don’t know, there was the nerves, there was young.  And I told myself, “I have to live and I get through it!”  Few people couldn’t live through it.  I don’t know how I did it, but mine goal was, “I have to live through it and I’ll be living through it.”
HERMAN: All right, so you took people in your arms and…
REINSTEIN: And I beg them.  I said, “Live, see!” (CRYING)
HERMAN: Yes, and that was very hard.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, and they said they can’t.  They was very skinny, very (PAUSE, HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) emotional; they could not get over it.  And afterwards I was sick because this time when they came in I was getting lots of fever and I was sick on a typhus.
HERMAN: You had typhus?
REINSTEIN: And I became typhus.  And I was maybe three months in a hospital; they took me in a Red Cross…in a truck.  And I was in the hospital, Celle. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND)  It was kind of like a hospital there.  And I got typhus very bad and I was there three months.
HERMAN: Three months.  I would like to go back to that time that you were helping the people.  How did the British treat you?
REINSTEIN: Well, they treated pretty good; what they couldn’t treat is anything much because we went back in the barracks and everybody was sick.  They gave us to eat cans of food; they brought it.  That was very dangerous for us because we was so hungry, some of them.  And they give them a can of meat, and some of them start to eat and right away they die because if you don’t eat (OVERTALK) and they right away die because they couldn’t take this.  And who can live, some of them get – most of them was sick.  Everybody was typhus and typhus and typhus.
HERMAN: Do you feel like you got the typhus after you got to Bergen-Belsen?  Or did you have it while you were on that march?
REINSTEIN: It might be, might be.  I mean, you know, you didn’t feel nothing.  You didn’t eat, and dirty.
HERMAN: And if you had to go to the bathroom, like in that period when you were being punished, could you go?
REINSTEIN: I don’t think so I couldn’t go.  I don’t know with what was to go.  We didn’t eat nothing even before we came to Bergen-Belsen.  There was one can for hundreds of people to get food, and who was stronger grabbed it like a garbage can.  They put a garbage can on one block and who was stronger went and grabbed something out.  But a woman who was barely walking, how can she go to that garbage can and take something out?  So you didn’t eat it.
HERMAN: So, how many days do you think you went without food?
REINSTEIN: Five days, five days for sure.  They didn’t give us nothing.  Just was unbelievable how we – how somebody can survive, if you think now about it.
HERMAN: Yes, because you were on that march, and you told me you didn’t get any food, although you did have some food in the people’s home.
REINSTEIN: In the people’s home what I get.  But we was in that march; we was marchin’ all day and the evening, the people – German people got like a, someplace where the cows was stayin’ –
REINSTEIN: In a barn.  Only those people bring in some piece of a bread, cut it up bread, and everybody, just the SS men came in and opened the barn and just throw a piece of – the Nazis throw a piece of bread for everybody.stay in a barn at night. With this you was living. And they put a box of water with something and that’s what we survived, day after night and day after day.  We didn’t have a date; we didn’t have a month.  We just keep on was going.  Summer, winter, winter, summer – that’s all what you know it.  We didn’t know what was.
HERMAN: So, on the day that the British came, did you go – there had to be a celebration there, or as much of a celebration as possible.
REINSTEIN: There was not celebration.  We just laid down in the barracks, sick.  They came in.  And, you know, they caught all the SS men, and they brought us all the Nazis, tore it down with the rings, something like this.  Some of them had a ring.  And they came, the Red Cross, the British Red Cross, the big ambulance and started taking people.  That I never forget it because I was layed down.  I was so much got maybe a hundred and so much fever, 102…
HERMAN: It started right that day.
REINSTEIN: Right that next day.  They brought something food; nobody could eat.  Everybody just was sick, yeah.
HERMAN: So, the irony was, here you have food and now you can’t eat it.
REINSTEIN: No, you can’t touch it.  You couldn’t touch it. You was sick.  Some are – a cup of water.  They brought in a big bucket of water; everybody could take the water. Water, that’s all.  Then they says that the SS man want to pick us up, the Nazi want to pick us up and get us to the ambulance, you know, and carry us out to the ambulance.
HERMAN: They were made to work by the British?
REINSTEIN: People to help us, the British, yeah – they was staying next to them to help carry us out to the ambulance and they told them to carry us out to the ambulance on a …stretcher.  So, who can do it; I will never let him touch that.  Then they came to me and I said, “NO!  You’re not gonna!”
HERMAN: Good for you.
REINSTEIN: (CRYING) I couldn’t.  So, they just stand aside.  I was three months in that hospital and I was signed up to go to Sweden because I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t; you know, I was very down.  And I don’t know how – downstairs I was supposed to get some little clothes to puttin’ on because we just got a blanket over us and I went down to pick up my little clothes and somebody saw me, a lansleit, what she recognized me.  And she said, “Oh, you’re living!  I mean, where you going?”  And I said I was sick.  And she said, “No, I was sick,” and she felt that okay.  She was the cook already there.  And I said, “No, I got…”
HERMAN: She was in the what?
REINSTEIN: She was cooking already, working in the kitchen.
HERMAN: Oh I see.  Now, this was in the Red Cross hospital?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, yeah.  And then she said – I said I going to Sweden tomorrow.  They take me.  And she said, “Oh, go find, there’s a list.  You might find somebody.”  And she said, “Your name was Awent.  So, look it up.”  And I look it up and I found mine brother. (PAUSE)  So, I didn’t went to Sweden.  No, I went back and I said, “I can’t go.  I found a brother.”  And I wanted to go to someplace in Munich, in Munich, in Feldafing.  And I wanted to go look for him.  From Bergen-Belsen, we took a group.  Some of them found a sister, some of them found a sister-in-law, and some of them found an uncle.  And we took all the people –
HERMAN: The people found them on this list?
HERMAN: So you were in the Red Cross hospital in Bergen-Belsen and this is where you met this lansleit who told you to look on the lists?
HERMAN: So then you said you decided to go to Munich.
REINSTEIN: Munich, yeah.  We don’t know what where Munich is. (LAUGHTER)  We didn’t know nothing.
HERMAN: Why did you choose Munich?  Did you feel like your brother was there?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, he was there.
HERMAN: You knew he was there.
REINSTEIN: Yeah.  That’s what I found on the list because Feldafing is the second thing from Munich.  First Munich, and then it’s Feldafing. (OVERTALK) Outside the town, yeah, Feldafing.
MR. REINSTEIN: It was a displaced persons camp.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, displaced camp there was in Feldafing.  But you go into Munich first, and then you go to Feldafing.  This was the camp for displaced people.  And we went there on a – I don’t know how – on freight cars.
HERMAN: Again?
REINSTEIN: Again in freight cars because we didn’t have any money; we didn’t have any nothing.  We just came to the station where the freight cars was empty and we just sat down and went.  And we just going like this for days and days until we came to Munich. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) And then we came to Munich, and inside Munich there is no camp, no D.P. camp.  There is in Feldafing D.P. camp.  We came to the Feldafing –
HERMAN: Excuse me.  Were you traveling with a group of people that you knew from where you had been sick?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, when I was sick in Celle, from Celle.  And some of them we came on the block.  It was already signed up like a lady of a band what to take care of those people, to give us something to eat.  Some of them got the name; somebody know it.  You know, like you find each other.
I was there, and nobody could find my brother.  I couldn’t.  I tryin’ for three days.  I was going to this block and this block – number five, number four, and everybody said he’s there.  Well, I almost wanted to go back to Celle there because there was no place where can I go.  So I was sitting and one policeman came, a milizen.  He was a milizen – Jewish policeman.  In that camp, Feldafing, they was making milizen, they was called, policemen.  They did take care of those, all the people if something happen or what. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) From the Nazis – they was goin’ around at night.  Some of them, the Nazis came in the night in the camp.  They wanted to do something.  They wanted to kill the people; they wanted to do in the night…after the war.  And came to me that one milizen and I said, begged him, “Would you look, and my name is so-and-so.”  And my brother was working already in that block.  (PAUSE)  They came to him and said, “You know, you got a sister.” (CRYING AND HAVING TROUBLE SPEAKING) And my brother said, “No, my sister die already.”  He said, “She was there and there and she – I don’t think so.  She is so teensy.  She could not make it through.”  Everybody told him they saw me in Auschwitz.  The next day another guy came up and I said, “How he look.  Let’s go come on and see him.”  If he is from the same town what I am, from Oswiecim, from Auschwitz…Then I was staying downstairs. And he said, “No, it’s too much.  You stay here…” (CRYING AND UNABLE TO CONTINUE TALKING)
HERMAN: That’s a very hard thing for you to talk about.
REINSTEIN: – “and I’ll bring him down.”  Well, he came down and he said, “You have to go down, somebody wait for you.”  Yeah, and he came down and I was there.  This was my brother.  I was living in the same block what he is, was very nice, very fine, we was very happy.
HERMAN: You say it was very nice and very fine – what was it, a house or – ?
REINSTEIN: No, they was blocks, same blocks.  There was one time was a German camp there, Nazi schools. And when the Nazi school went out, and when they brought up the D.P. camp, the people, they put them in the same camp.  So we just got like a little room and they give us some food.
HERMAN: And it was clean.
REINSTEIN: And it was clean.  That means a new life.  And we have to keep it clean and everything.  And there was going in there, was all kind of people – single people and girls, and then I meet a young fellow, (PAUSE) the same age from me, and he was Polish, the same thing – born in Krakow, a mile from Auschwitz. (CRYING)
HERMAN: Now, had you looked in the mirror at yourself anytime at this period after you were sick?  Had you seen what you looked like?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, sure.  I didn’t have any hair, no hair.  Typhus – all the hair went out.  I was very skinny.  I weighed maybe 90 pounds, maybe 95 pounds.
HERMAN: How did you feel when you looked in that mirror and you realized that was you?
REINSTEIN: Well, what can I say?  I was glad that I was alive, that I free; you know I was alive.  It was unbelievable that I just really, a little girl from a little town made it through.  It was just unbelievable!  I just didn’t believe that I could make it through.  And I saw what happened, and I saw the German – now even I sit and – I sit and watch sometime a German show, a German television, something from the Nazi and I can’t believe it.  I was there and I lived through it, and I saw this.  It was unbelievable, all those years what I went through.  How many ______, how many Judenrein I saw.  Judenrein means like “our little city,” (OVERTALK) Final Solution, like our city, Auschwitz, and there was so many Jewish nice people, religious city.  And this was clear.  I saw what happened to the last minute.
HERMAN: Because you managed to stay there as long as you did.  So, you met your husband, Alex.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, we met in 1945.
HERMAN: And where did you get married?
REINSTEIN: In the camp, at Feldafing. (MR. REINSTEIN SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) And you know what kind of marriage this was, what kind of wedding it was?  I have to tell you.
HERMAN: I wish you would.
REINSTEIN: There was one dress in the whole camp and everybody put the dress on. (LAUGHTER)
HERMAN: Can you describe the dress?
REINSTEIN: This was a white dress, I don’t know how long, no it was three-quarter maybe, and it was such a size that it fit everyone (LAUGHTER) – and we get it every week. (MR. REINSTEIN SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) Yeah, it was long, I think.  And it was every week we get it bread and milk and zulage of Germany.  So we get flour and this.  We baked like a cake and we baked a little –
HERMAN: You had your own oven?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, we got a little oven.  And we baked a little cake and we cooked something.  And who was living close around, who was the oldest guy could speak Jewish made up the condition.  That was the wedding.  And I took off the dress and said, “Who’s next?  Who’s next?  Who is the next girl?”  Who is the next girl took the dress and married again.
HERMAN: Now this picture that you’re showing me.  Is that actually in the camp when you were married?
HERMAN: Well, you look – you both look very well.  You look healthy by this time.  How much time had passed from the time you were liberated until the wedding?
HERMAN: So that was only six months.
REINSTEIN: Six months.
HERMAN: That’s amazing because you look beautiful there.
REINSTEIN: We tried to do the best and keep on going and having very courage.  And of mind to go to Israel and to be – you know, to do something to show the world that we live through.
HERMAN: So that was really a great celebration.  So, now you were married.  What determined how long you had to stay in the camp?
REINSTEIN: Nothing.  My husband this time took a job policeman.  There was the milizen.  He was a milizen, he was watching the camp and I help people what I could to go and help something until I was pregnant with my older son.  And we wait for visa to immigrate to Israel.
HERMAN: Now, Alex didn’t get paid?
REINSTEIN: Nothing, there was nothing.  You would just get a little food more, (OVERTALK) food, a little more food.  Maybe a bread more, maybe a couple pounds flour more and something.  There was no money to get anything…
HERMAN: So, tell me how you would spend the day.  I want to hear how you spent the day, say in the camp, in the D.P. camp.
REINSTEIN: In the D.P. camp, well, we just clean and cook something.  Very hard because it was a little stove for the – there was a little stove for the whole camp what we got it and we just didn’t have much to do.  Just to go out and there was people to help.  Was a lake there and – but older people what was sick to help them to get through the day.  And some of them didn’t make too long, in fact.  My brother was married the next day, the same day almost, very close, and he was affected from the camp and the work and the Nazis, and he was sick, and after five years after the war, he died.  He was only 29 years old.
HERMAN: Well, when you talk about you lived with people, how did people react?  How did you go about your business?  Were you smiling or were you crying?
REINSTEIN: Everybody just – we was only way where we get together only talk.  The names from the past, what we did in the camp, and how was Bergen-Belsen, and how was Dachau, and how was Auschwitz and how you were then, and how the parents was gone – that’s only we know it.  That’s only we was talking.  In fact, even now, we can be at a wedding; we can sit and enjoy ourselves and even drink and see a beautiful wedding, and we start talking.  The end of it has to be from the concentration camp.  The end has to be we have to all remember it all the time.  We go to a funeral, we get together or someplace.  We always remember from this one who always came to us to talk about it.  Even if our vacation we got food; we eat and enjoy ourselves and left this United States, where we are we’re always looking for some people to find, that we find somebody from our hometown, that we find some people what from concentration camps.  In fact, I was last winter, in February, we was in Florida.  I found from my hometown what I didn’t saw him in 42 years.  And we just recognized.  I heard his name was and he heard about me, and we was looking for each other.

Tape 2 - Side 2

HERMAN: You were saying that you wanted to go to Israel and that you were waiting for the visa.
REINSTEIN: We was waiting for the visa and my husband, we just was packed already everything, and then I had to go to the doctor.
HERMAN: And you went to the doctor.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, and I was – I knew it, and I was pregnant.  My older son, and they did not want me to go because I was already in the fifth month or something like that.  And then they wanted just take my husband; they just wanted take my husband and I should wait for him.  And I did not – at this time, there was the Exodus, the ship Exodus, and I supposed to be on the Exodus, and they didn’t want to invite, to invite, to take pregnant women; they just wanted the men.  So, he didn’t want me to leave by myself so he said he gonna wait until I get through.  In fact, my older son was born in Germany in 1948.  Then, in the meantime we registered someplace else.
HERMAN: You registered somewhere else?
REINSTEIN: Someplace else.  To Canada, to America, to Australia, what came first.  With a little child – I always hate that my child was born in Germany, but I had no other choice.  And what came first, what came first United States to take a quota in.  So, we just went because we was this time young.
HERMAN: How old were you?
REINSTEIN: (OVERTALK) 23 years old, 24.
HERMAN: But your pregnancy was fine?  You didn’t have any problems?
REINSTEIN: Fine, no problems.
HERMAN: You were in good health?  Both of you were in good health?
HERMAN: You stayed in the D.P. camp all the time until you left?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, all the time.
HERMAN: So that was three years then?
REINSTEIN: Four years. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) Yeah, we immigrate in ’49.
HERMAN: I see.  So now you – how did you learn that you were going to be ready to go to the United States?
REINSTEIN: Well, they called us in, we came for the quota, we registered, and they call us in and they tell us.  We went through the doctors and there was all the papers.  Everything was okay.  (OVERTALK) And we’re not a criminal; we are healthy enough to leave Germany.
HERMAN: And all that time now – I hate to interrupt you because that had to be a very, very emotional time, but in all that time you lived there, you were living in the D.P. camp.
HERMAN: And you were there all the time, and Alex was the –
REINSTEIN: There was a time that we was living in the D.P. camp and then General Eisenhower ’45 – he came to Feldafing.  And he saw the people were living very bad, you know, was married already and pregnant.  And he saw us in the camp.  He got – he got a speech outside the camp and this time he said it, that he gonna see to get us houses, like a villa.  This time was like a little villa; he called it a villa.  And it was very nice.  And he gave us 14 villas for those people what married and got pregnant to stay there until we get out from Germany.
HERMAN: I see.  And how many people were in this camp then?
HERMAN: And 14 villas?
MR. REINSTEIN: The rest of them livin’ in barracks; they were German Hitler youth – Hitler school for Nazis.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, they was – the barracks later on.  Even now is Hitlerjugend living there from the (OVERTALK) from a camp, maybe military.  But this time was the same thing, was like, the people still was living.  But some people he (OVERTALK) round so  we can live in that…
HERMAN: Did you have to register to do that?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, sure, register.  And there was people went through everything, and they sign up those people what to go in this villa.
HERMAN: Now, you were saying that you now have word that you can go to the United States, that you passed all of the qualifications for that, and then what happened after they told you that you would be able to go to the United States?
REINSTEIN: So, I was feel very hurt and I cannot go to Israel because we leavin’ to United States.  But I thought, I always – my heart is and everything is for Israel.  I was in Israel, time, visit and I got cousins in Israel, but we came to United States.
HERMAN: Did you know your cousins were in Israel?
REINSTEIN: We did not know it but I found it out afterward.
HERMAN: So it was a disappointment to have to go to the United States?
REINSTEIN: Yes.  But we came to United States and I was just praying not to go to a big city. (LAUGHTER)  I was just raised in a smaller city.  So we came with a ship, 14 days on the water, and we came to New Orleans.  And we was stayin’ there in New Orleans.  We came to, they send us  – there came a transport, they send us to all the cities, some of them to Cleveland – and we came to St. Louis.  We came to St. Louis here and the Jewish Agency picked us up and gave us a little – we stayin’ a few days in a little hotel.  They gave us a room and we start living.  We got a little boy, little baby boy from maybe 15 months or – it was 18 months old.
HERMAN: Now, are you talking about your stay in New Orleans?  The Jewish Agency picked you up?  Or you came to St. Louis and the Jewish Agency picked you up?
REINSTEIN: Here in St. Louis.  Not there, we just stayed there about a day, two, until we was transferred what where city we goin’, destination.
HERMAN: I see.  And did they give you any money?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, we got money.  I got seven dollar and my husband got seven dollar and the little boy got three dollar. (LAUGHTER BY MR. REINSTEIN) Then we came to St. Louis.
HERMAN: By train?
REINSTEIN: By train.  And then we came with the train here and they picked us up at the train.  They told us; they looked my husband was a young fellow, middle 20s, and they said, “You gonna go to work.”
HERMAN: So they helped him find a job?
REINSTEIN: They find him job.  In fact, they find him such a job, and later he found himself a job.  And he was – this job was…he was goin’ workin’.  And I just got a little apartment.  They give us a little apartment and we was living and raised a little boy.
HERMAN: How was it to make the adjustment to the United States?
REINSTEIN: Very, very hard.  We couldn’t speak; we didn’t know the money.  We came to a store, I just opened my hand and how much money was, somebody took it from my hand.  They was take it.  I couldn’t find this and this, but little by little we learned.  We cannot speak so good well too much today, but we make a living, thank God.
HERMAN: You’re doing fine.
REINSTEIN: And afterwards I got another, another child, another little boy, thank God.  And then after three and a half years, I got another great little boy.  I got three sons and thank God they all went to school.  They all went to college.  And, thank God, they are now businessmen.  They got their own families.
HERMAN: That’s very fine.
REINSTEIN: I got three grandchildren.  The fourth is on the way.  So…
HERMAN: You’ve accomplished a great deal in your lives.
REINSTEIN: My husband was working in a job for 35 years.  He was a supervisor and, thank God, we love it, United States.  We love Israel but we love it here to stay.  We enjoy our life.
HERMAN: Well, that’s wonderful that you were able to survive what you had to survive, and I hate to take you back to that time, but I’m going to ask you about how it felt – in fact, when you were in the camp, did you call each other by name?  Can we go back to that time?  When you were in the camps, how did you treat each other?  How did you treat people around you?
REINSTEIN: See, women was different – maybe men was rough, but women, we just say, “What is your name?”  “Let’s call you Sarah.”  “Okay, you call me Sarah; you call me Frieda.”  And we just was call each other.  And if we can steal from each other piece of bread, we did.
HERMAN: You did?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, we did, because this was a survival.  You was just looking, just you  survive because the hunger was just you, was your pain.  Some people, some ladies couldn’t hold their hunger.  Some ladies could not.  And the women was separate.  We was – I was in a camp with thousand girls.  We didn’t saw a man for the whole five years.  I didn’t ever know what is a man going to live through.  When I came to Dachau, then I saw men.  But I did not know if a man survive even.  So, the life between us was very rough.
It was rough and it was nice, you could cry and nobody heard you.  Just was alive for yourself, how you hold yourself.  You can lay down in bed and you cannot wake up in the morning.  That was a blessing when somebody do that.  And I saw that happen to my friend.  I had just talked to her and she said she don’t want to live, she don’t want to go through this.  And I don’t want to live and…and her mind was she was not.  She did not wake up in the morning.
But if somebody said, “No, I have to live and I’m going to live, I have to, no matter what.”  In fact, I was working in a field.  That was in Neusatz.  They called this camp, Neusatz.  There was there maybe 800 girls was working and I was working in a field.  We was making thread, pick up cotton.
HERMAN: Oh, you told me about that.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, I was working and I saw an airplane when I was bending down.  And the SS, the Nazi was going, watches how we worked.  And all of a sudden airplane was going over our head and I was just looking up and I told the other girl across from me, she was working, and I said, “Oh my, this going to be some for us. (LIGHT LAUGHTER) Might be Israel or something.”  He saw me and I was smiling at her.  He came to me and he told me, “You verfluchte Jude.”  He hit me.
MR. REINSTEIN: Explain the language.
HERMAN: What does that mean?
REINSTEIN: You nasty Jew.  “You laughing.  You think the Israel – not Israel – Palestinians going to help you?  That America going to help you?”  He beat me.  I was blue and black but I went back to the camp and I said, “I’m going to live through.”
HERMAN: It was your determination.
REINSTEIN: Yeah.  I was just afraid the next couple days that he not gonna send me to the gas chambers.  This what I was afraid.  But he did not do this. I put on ice on me.  And as a matter of fact, I was in a room they called the stube, you know, a room, we just call it in German the stube.  So we was in that room.until I was maybe with 20  girls.  And they just helped me to get off the block that they don’t recognize me.  And I just was waiting everyday.  I thought that he gonna knock the door and he take me out and send me away because I was smiling at the sky. (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) We was – fact that you can live with beating, with no eating and no clothes, just a little wooden traps.
HERMAN: You said “wooden traps.”
REINSTEIN: Yeah, shoes.
HERMAN: You called them traps?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, was a piece of wood with a leather strap through and you got special dress with stripe and a number.  Like a prison, that’s all you was goin’.  You got two dresses like this, one in the cold water and you wash it out and hang it outside and the next day you put it on.  And a scarf over the head and that’s all what you know it.
HERMAN: Do you remember – it was a long time ago – we talked about if you could possibly put your experiences in a time…like if we could start when you first got to the first camp, like what year that was, and then how long you were in that camp.  Then possibly how long you were in the next camp and the next.  Do you think you could do that?  Would that be awfully hard to do?
REINSTEIN: Well, (HUSBAND SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) yeah I remember.  Yeah, when I came first to the camp – first I was in ghetto.
HERMAN: Yes, right.
REINSTEIN: I was in ghetto.  This was really a little story, but I have to tell you.  I was in ghetto in Sosnowiec, Bedzin.  They took us from Auschwitz to send us to Sosnowiec and there was a Srodula and Kamionka.  There was a little – two things get together.  If somebody read this, can know what this, Srodula and Kamionka.  I was in the Srodula.  And I was in a little piece, what they was callin’ a little camp, in Poland this was.  And my brother already was in concentration camp and –
HERMAN: Now you told me about that and then he got you out of that ghetto.  That was quite an experience you had, following the people. (OVERTALK)  That was in 1942?
REINSTEIN: In 1942-43.  That was just terrible.  They was just killing in the streets.  And I had to put me on – I got long black hair and I have to put me on something on over  that like a school girl with two white things on the side…
HERMAN: When you hear the tape, you’re going to know that you told that story very poignantly.
REINSTEIN: So this time I went to the camp.  There was – (HUSBAND HELPS WITH DATES IN BACKGROUND THROUGHOUT) First I went to Klaubuitz – 1939 – that was not too long; maybe a year, ’40.  And then I went to Blechhammer; that was in 1941, start ’41.  And then I went to…Noszarts.
HERMAN: That’s where your brother was, right?
REINSTEIN: Yeah, in 1943 – ’42, end ’42 to the first ’43.  And there I was there in Noszarts I was there until 1943, end.  Then from 1943 I went through the lager Flossenburg, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen, from ’43 to’45.  In 1945, April 15th, I was liberated in Bergen-Belsen.
HERMAN: Well, when you say it like that, it seems like it was just one-two-three, but you experienced such horrors.
REINSTEIN: I don’t know.  I probably don’t even know the dates.  We didn’t even know the year; we didn’t know what the month; we didn’t know what nothing.  We didn’t know it.  It was unbelievable how it was in Auschwitz.  That’s just – nobody can understand.  It was a little city, Auschwitz – Oswiecim, in Polish.  And there was just Jewish people in a small little town, and there was Shabbas and there was Yuntiv.  There was a rabbi was there and when it was Simchas Torah, there just was dancing in the streets.  And so Jewish was the religion, and Orthodox.  Who knew what is going to come in the night, a nice Friday morning came some war broke out.
HERMAN: Okay, so now you go from being religious and loving God – when you were going through what you went through, how did you feel about God?
REINSTEIN: Oh, I never changed and I never let change the home.  In fact, when we came to the United States we thought we gonna be more religious.  And we didn’t drive Saturday and was going to the Orthodox shul.  We was walking block and I was very thankful to God.  We walked from Kingshighway to Rich Avenue and was walkin’ – we walkin’ to the shul.  In fact, I let my – but you know how it is.  My husband had to work for a living because the kids came.  I start to have another child and another.  Two children are born in United States in 1951 and ’54.  So I born another child.  So we was – you needed, you needed to live and make a living.  So he was, got to work…
HERMAN: But your feeling toward God never changed?
REINSTEIN: No.  The kids went to Hebrew school and Bar Mitzvahs and never change.  And I’m hoping and praying to God that my kids and my grandchildren will be just the same.  And, thank God, my children married Jewish girls and, thank God, they happy.  And I’m still praying to God that for the life, will never give up.
HERMAN: That’s a wonderful attitude, Frieda.  I wanted to ask you – when the British brought the SS men back without their epaulets, was there an effort on the part of the Jewish people to hurt the Germans?
REINSTEIN: Oh, we was throwing ’em, sure.  But who could do something?  People was just so sick, half dead.  Everybody was laying down and we was just – I found my shoe; I throw it at them.  We could nothin’ doin’.  Thousands and thousands of people could do nothing.
HERMAN: But they would have wanted to if they would have been able?
REINSTEIN: Oh, if I could, I would just put a knife in them if I could, if I had.  But I could nothing doin’; I was so sick.  But my mind was working.  I didn’t let them touch me. I scream how much I could; you could not touch me.  And there was hundreds of other people they didn’t want to touch, but somebody would be dead; he didn’t know nothing no more. Who was lived through it – there was, most of them, lots of people died after the war, after Britain came in because this was the last thing what is. They couldn’t go even through.  I hold them, I begged them, I said, “Live!  See this, the English.” (CRYING) They said, “No, no, no.”
MR. REINSTEIN: Emotional, how it was.
REINSTEIN: They just kissed the tanks and they died, that’s all.  So that’s what I mean, it’s just unbelievable to remember.  You just try to talk and never can forget it, never.  There’s not a night…
HERMAN: That’s what I was going to ask.  Do you dream about it?
REINSTEIN: Oh, yeah.  We dream about it.  We talk about; we live with this.
MR. REINSTEIN: It’s something you think about.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, you just live with this.  Even how we got good now.  You know, thank God, we got eat, we got a roof over the head and we got family.  But still we are alone.
MR. REINSTEIN: We can’t forget.
REINSTEIN: We can’t forget. (PAUSE)
MR. REINSTEIN: She was there about five years and I was only for 48 months (UNCLEAR) I was in the camps.
REINSTEIN: The worst that hurt me, I lived through with a brother who was so young and he died.
HERMAN: When you think about the most horrible thing that happened to you, what was the most horrible thing that happened to you?  I mean, do you have a thing that was the most horrible?
REINSTEIN: Most horrible, sure I got.  I can never forget it and my picture still.  I was going with my father and my mother and they took them away. (CRYING)
HERMAN: And you saw that.
REINSTEIN: And I stay with them; I want to go with them. They grabbed me back, they beat me up and they selected.  We went through our selection.  And I went in the middle aisle.  One side my mother, and she was so beautiful dressed.  My mother was 48 and my father was 50 and they was not so bad looking and it was okay.  And I was just hold them, and they just grabbed my father this way and my mother this way, and me, they throw me to the other side.  And I want to run to them.  Just beat me, hit me, throw me down and I just wake up I don’t know where is.  There was already a train and they took them on the train, and that’s all what I never forget this.  Never can forget, forgive nothing of myself.
HERMAN: Well, there wasn’t much you could do about that.  I can certainly understand your feeling that way…So, when you awaken in the night, you see images of different things that happened.
REINSTEIN: Yeah, that’s right.  And I was living even in the city in Auschwitz, what they callin’ Auschwitz.  So they was makin’nights – in the middle of the night the first time that the synagogue was burned (OVERTALK) and then the next day then this knock in the door and I got two brothers in the house, and they just knock in the door.  And they just took – they got everything; they know where everybody live and what his name, and they just runnin’ in and grab my brothers out and to the Jewish center.  And they pick all the names, all the young people, all everybody, and just – and how they make the Judenrein the city, how the whole city was Judenrein.  How they clean up, how the concentration camp was there.  There was a city; barracks was there.  Military barracks was there and that was the stove – the gas chambers.  How this, everything is unbelievable and unforgettable.
HERMAN: You mentioned that you see German movies.  Are you able to watch them now?
REINSTEIN: I’m watchin’.  But a certain point make me very – you know, years back I could sit and watch them through because my heart was stronger.  Now, a little bit, I start crying and I will get very nervous and then a point, I can’t see it no more.  I have to leave.
HERMAN: Yes, certainly, it’s understandable.
REINSTEIN: That’s what comes to me; I don’t know.  You just, you live with this and you getting older and you just – unbelievable to get it through.  There was a movie – I don’t know, was lately.
HERMAN: Did you go see that?
REINSTEIN: No, we see on the television.  There was a part I couldn’t stay. (MR. REINSTEIN SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND)
HERMAN: Well, I wondered if you could watch those movies and what effect it had on you.
REINSTEIN: I was watching, I was watching the first years.  There was long years I could watch it.  Less late – maybe couple years back, now if I see something I get very shook up, very nervous.  And I cry more than before.  It hurts me more than before.
HERMAN: And when you first got to get food, you know, when you were in the D.P. camp or even before, when you were getting better in the hospital, how did having food feel?  Did you – how – what was the feeling you had about being able to have food when you were hungry?  Did you have any special feeling about the food?
REINSTEIN: You eat the potato, a cold, old potato, was tasting like an egg.  You don’t have – you just was little remember about food.  But you did not – the taste, you just made.  You know, we got grass soup, was tasting like there was nothing, just grass. (OVERTALK)
HERMAN: You did very well with what I asked you.  I can see how your taste would be affected.
REINSTEIN: Only when we was all those years in camps, there’s only one prayer we had to.  If we lived through and we sitting by table and pick up bread from the table, we can eat how much you want.
HERMAN: That was a dream?
REINSTEIN: That was the whole dream, to have that bread.
HERMAN: So that when you got the bread in the D.P. camp, it was very special?
REINSTEIN: Oh yeah.  And we eat it.  We just didn’t believe it that we have that bread to eat.  We never throw out that piece of bread; we just was waiting for that piece of bread.  That’s the whole thing, was the whole years, the whole concentration camp, is only that piece of bread.  That we would be so free that we could sit by a table and have that piece of bread on the table and we can eat how much you wanted.  That was the only prayer.
HERMAN: Did you talk about your experiences with your kids at all?
REINSTEIN: Yes, I did talk to them.  I did talk to them.  I didn’t want to make them too much think.  But I talk to them and they know what happened to their grandma, what happened to me, what happened to us.
HERMAN: But you did tell them?
REINSTEIN: I told them.  I still tell them.  And we just always was Friday night for dinner or the holidays for dinner we always told them. (MR. REINSTEIN SPEAKS IN BACKGROUND) I told them now watch the movie, belong in the newcomers’ club and  be in every place, because you are the one, you are the one now to continue to tell people that it was true, that my father and mother was there.
HERMAN: Do you think that your kids were affected by your experiences?  Did you do anything unusual – do you think you did anything unusual because of your experiences – that you have lights on in your house all the time, or were you more fearful than you think you might have been?
REINSTEIN: Might I was acting a little bit.  But they was keepin’ on saying to me, “Oh, mom, this is not Europe, this is America.”  You know, something like that.  My style of living and style of talking my scary, or something like that, they always said, “Mom, that’s not the…”

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