Warning! The text retains the original spelling of surnames and place names by an Israeli researcher; in many cases it may not be correct. Fragments that could contain current personal data have been removed from the interview.
Interviewee’s name: Anna Praszkier-Riesenberg (Czajkowska)
Subject of the Interview: Anna Praszkier and her family
Father: Josef-Baruch (Josek-Boruch) Riesenberg (later, in 1948, he, his two sons and his daughter, changed their last name to Czajkowski, see below) was born in 1880 in Staszów, 50 km southeast of Kielce, to his father Zechariah and his mother Ita. The family moved to Łódź in the early twentieth century. Grandfather Zechariah had a store for coal which was attached to their apartment in ulica Południowa 21. Both grandparents died before WW II.
Josef-Baruch Riesenberg had five siblings: two brothers, Chaim and Hill and three sisters, Pola, Sura and Czerna. All of them, except Josef-Baruch, perished in the Holocaust. Josef-Baruch, as a young man, served in the Russian Tsarist Army.
Mother: Helena (Hesse-Libe) Osup was born in Lublin, eastern Poland. She had two sisters and one brother. Helena died in Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp (located in northern Germany, 90 km north of Berlin) at the end of 1944.
Josef Riesenberg married Helena Osup in 1913 (?) in Łódź. In 1914 their first son Izak (Yitzhak, Igancy [Izaak, Icchak, Ignacy] from 1946) was born and in 1916 Ya'akov [Jakow] was born. Josef worked as a salesman for one of the textile factories in Łódź.
In 1922 Josef and Helena and their two sons moved to Konin where Josef believed livelihood was easier. In 1923 Anna was born and soon after her birth Josef decided to return to Łódź. He continued to work as a salesman until the war broke out in 1939. Until 1928 they lived in Al. 1 Maja 23. From 1928 they lived in ul. Gdańska 123. They lived in a 5 room's apartment on the third floor which had large balcony in the front. The children used to watch police cavalry practicing on a training yard facing their balcony. Anna remembers that they often used to stroll in Park Poniatowskiego. Her brothers studied at a Polish school but her mother insisted that Anna study at a Jewish School for girls. Her school was in ul. Piramowicza 6. The parents kept the traditional Jewish way of life but they were also Zionists and kept a "Blue Box" of The Jewish National Fund in their house and received the "Opinia" Jewish newspaper. Yitzhak studied at the School of Chemistry of Politechnika Lwowska (or Lwów Polytechnics) and graduated before the war. He even worked for several years in the chemical Industry until the outbreak of the War. Ya'akov studied textile at a vocational school and after the war he completed his studies and became a textile engineer.
At the outbreak of the War, both brothers fled from the city eastward due to the rumors that the Germans intended to immediately kill all the men. They returned some days later because the roads were systematically being bombed by German planes and it was more dangerous to travel. The ghetto was set up in February and sealed off in late April. The Riesenberg family, like all other Jews, was compelled to leave their flat and moved to the Ghetto and resided with another family, altogether eight people in one room on Drewnowska Street. Later this street was removed from the Ghetto's defined area and they were moved to Łagiewnicka Street where they stayed until their deportation from the Ghetto in the last transport on 22 October 1944.
During their first two years in the Ghetto, 1940-41, Anna studied at the high school which continued to operate at that period and received her matriculation certificate. She then worked at the bookkeeping department of the Ghetto administration. Later she worked in one of the Ghetto workshops, also in the office.
Josef had, during their years in the Ghetto, a relatively "good job". He worked in the public kitchen from which he could receive potato peels which was very important for their survival in the harsh conditions of constant starvation which existed in the Ghetto. Mother Helena did not work outside the house and took care of housekeeping. Yitzhak worked in a metal workshop and Ya'akov worked in a carpentry workshop. Yitzhak and Ya'akov also managed to find a very small piece of land on which they grew vegetables. In spite of the difficult life conditions, Josef helped others by giving them some of their food.
By August 30, the date of the last transport to Auschwitz, some 70,000 Jews had been sent to the infamous extermination camp. Only 1,200 Jews were left in Łódź. Six hundred were sent to labor camps in Germany, while the other 600 were placed in a camp inside Łódź (Radogoszcz prison). The Riesenberg family was among those who were deported to Germany. Anna and her mother were sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her father and her brothers were taken to Oranienburg (Brandenburg, NE Germany) concentration camp. Anna was taken from Ravensbrück to the forced labor camp ARADO-Werken (a German aircraft manufacturer) near Württemberg where she stayed until the camp was liberated by the Red Army in April 1945. Helena died in Ravensbrück after Anna left the camp. Josef and Anna's two brothers survived the war. Some weeks after liberation, Anna with some other girls, also survivors of the ARADO-Werken labor camp, decided to return to Poland. They marched to the nearest town and got on a train which they left at Poznan, west-central Poland. There, in the train station, Anna was recognized by a family friend who told her that her father had survived and was staying in their apartment at Gdańska 123 in Łódź. She got on the train to Łódź, reached their house and met her father and her brother Yitzhak. They were later joined by their brother Ya'akov who had also survived the camps.
The family settled in Łódź and Anna studied sewing and dressmaking and worked as a seamstress. At that time she met Yitzhak [Icchok] Brudzinski and they got married in October 1952. During all this time, they asked for permission to emigrate to Israel but since Josef-Baruch Riesenberg and his sons worked in governmental projects/factory, they were denied. In January 1953, Anna and Yitzhak Brudzinski had their first daughter, Helena. In 1954 father Josef-Baruch died. In 1957, they at last received permission to leave Poland. Anna and her family, Ya'akov and his family emigrated to Israel and Yitzhak emigrated to Sweden […].