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.

 

Name of Interviewee: Leah Ben Tuvim;

Interview topic: Bluma Bar Levi (Frankel), born in 1926 in Zduńska Wola;

Father's name: Benyamin Sheinberg

Mother's name: Golda;

Siblings names: Sarah, Chaya, Moshe and Zvi.

 

Bluma Sheinberg was born in 1926 in the town Zduńska Wola in Poland. Her parents were Golda and Benyamin Sheinberg. They had five children; three daughters - Sarah, Chaya and Bluma. And two sons - Moshe and Zvi.

Their home was religious and Bluma went to a religious school "Ohel Ya'akov". Her father traded in textiles and her mother was a housewife.

They lived peacefully until the outbreak of the Second World War.

"The horrors of war began almost immediately", Bluma said. "The Germans forced us to come out and watch Jews being murdered. They used to catch Jews on the streets, beat them, shave their beards and humiliate them in front of the passersby. The sights were hard to watch.

Everyone felt humiliated and helpless. We didn't know that worse was still to come."

One night in June 1942, the Jews were assembled in the cemetery and the Germans began a selection: the children, old people and sick people were sent straight to extermination. The rest were transferred to ghetto Lodz. The selection was extremely brutal. Women were torn away from their partners, children were brutally taken from their mothers and fathers, young men and women dragged away from their families and the elderly left without any support. Screams and cries filled the air, but the gates of heaven remained closed.

Bluma will never forget the sight she saw with her own eyes: a Gestapo soldier tearing her niece from her mother's arms using a stick with a hook at the end which he placed around her neck. A terrible sight!

Bluma, a young girl of sixteen, arrived in the ghetto, frightened and alone. She had just been separated from her parents and other family members. She was sent to work in a factory for weaving straw plaits, that were made into shoes for soldiers to protect their feet from the cold.

Bluma lived with her supervisor from work. At the beginning she was treated fairly, but one day she realized that the food she had kept for herself had disappeared and she was left without anything to eat, until the next food distribution. She decided to give up her place in that apartment and moved in with a couple she knew from her hometown.

She thought she would like living there, since she knew them from home. She couldn't have known that human beings change when they are in difficult situations, like in the ghetto.

The couple disappointed her deeply. They took advantage of her and made her work like a slave. She had to do all the household chores in addition to her work in the factory. They gave her no warmth or consideration. She was lonely and exhausted, but she remained with them because there was nowhere else for her to go.

In August 1944, Bluma was sent to Auschwitz. She went through the routine of selections, torture and beatings. After a while she was transferred to Berman [?] in Germany, where she worked dismantling and clearing bombed out buildings, after they had been bombed by the Allies.

The prisoners were woken every day at four in the morning for morning parade. Then they walked five kilometers to work where they were given "breakfast", a slice of bread and something to drink.

After Berman camp was bombed and burnt down completely, the prisoners were sent to Bergen Belsen. Bluma remembers till today the piles of bodies all over the place and the sick that were lying at the sides of the way and no one tried to help them. Although 67 years have passed, those pictures are still fresh in her mind.

In April 1945 Bluma was liberated from Bergen Belsen by the British army. Most of Bluma's family perished in the Holocaust. Her parents, her eldest sister Chaya and her husband and daughter, uncles, aunts and her grandmother. Only her brother Moshe survived the horrors.

After her liberation, Bluma found out that her brother had survived and was in Italy. She made tremendous efforts to find and reach him. She arrived in the DP camp in Italy where she found her brother and she met Eli Frankel. Eli, a Holocaust survivor as well, had lost his entire family and was all alone in the world.

They both decided to immigrate to Palestine which was still under British Mandate. They reached Barri [Bari], an Italian port and boarded the ma'apilim (immigrants to Palestine by sea) ship "Bracha Fold".

When the immigrants' ship, loaded with ma'apilim, reached Haifa port, they were sent to Cyprus. The British forbade them from entering the country. They were placed in a detainees camp "Summer Camp # 69".

Eli and Bluma got married in the camp.

Although they were a young married couple, they lived with another five families in the tent. Bluma did handwork and helped her husband, Eli, with the social and cultural activities in the camp. In March 1947 they received permission to immigrate.

Once they were released form the transit camp in Atlit, Eli volunteered to the Hagana. He participated in the War of Independence and in 1948 he officially joined the IDF. At first Bluma and Eli lived in a military base in Jaffe. They shared a toilet and kitchen with three other families. Only later did they move into their own apartment.

During Eli's military service in the regular army, the family moved around a lot and changed living quarters each time Eli got a different position. Bluma dedicated herself to the family, running the household and raising the children. She wanted to give them a warm, loving and secure home. The kind of home war had prevented her from having in her childhood.

Bluma successfully raised three wonderful children […]. She has five grandchildren that she helps to raise as well.

Drukuj