Frieda Kliger

Frieda Kliger

Frieda Kliger’s story is one of those, you would rather disbelieve. Born in Poland, she lived together with her family for several years in a ghetto of Warsaw. As she had a work permit, Frieda was allowed to work outside of it. When the ghetto was liquidated she followed her family without any hesitation across the death strip to stay with them – it has been close to a miracle that nothing had happend to her. After they discovered her hideout, she was sent to a crematory. Last-minute a supervisor came with orders to send 1,000 women to Auschwitz. Frieda tried to throw herself into the electric fence but one of the guards held her back. This part of her story ended in Bergen-Belsen where the next part started right away: After the war ended, Frieda and her husband got married as first jewish couple and went to Israel to start a new life.

»I wanted to die but when he screamed: »Run away«, I ran. And I didn’t kill myself, the instinct of life was still stronger than to die. It was ment that I survive.«

Frieda Kliger, born 1921 in Poland, now resides in Jerusalem

Frieda Kliger never wanted to talk to a German ever again. She did not accept any German things in her apartement neither. Her light bulbs get broken all the time, because the only good ones are made in Germany. Nevertheless, Frieda Kliger, 90 years old at the time, once again found the strength to overcome her inner resistance and invited a young German woman to her home.

Our first contact has been at a theater performance. Together with other survivors and her grandchildren Frieda reenacted the experiences of the Shoah in the play. At the end of the show Frieda was surrounded by friends and family – a picture characterized by life, warmth and love. The following days Frieda was physically too exhausted by the memories of her past to meet me once again. But thanks to her daughter’s encouragement Frieda rose above herself and invited me to talk – only talking for starters.

Then, we were talking for six hours. I expected a meeting more hesitant or skeptical, but I was greeted by a smile and a hug, we both were a little bit uncertain. When it was time to say goodbye, we weren’t done talking about everything at all. The light for taking pictures wasn’t perfect but that was not even important anymore. We said goodbye to each other as confidants. I was speechless and astonished about how our relationship has changed in the last few hours. Frieda asked me to be her guest at Purim. It is a Jewish holiday and the celebrations remind me of the German carnival. We were eating and talking for such a long time that we missed out the great parade. The streets were still packed with happy and dressed up people. One moment we were talking about Auschwitz and the next one we stood in the middle of the crowd, linking arms with each other and laughing about a child dressed up as a lady beetle that showed her collection of sweets happily to her mom.

Frieda Kliger experienced horrible things. Today she owns – maybe to her own surprise – the strength to open her heart and make friends. The last sentence of our interview has been: »Sarah don’t cry, I cried enough for all that.«. It describes the intense and emotional time together very well. We were talking for two days, we cried together and in the end we hugged each other. It is difficult to put this experience into words.

» Listen
» question? Write Friedas second witness Sarah.


Wir von HEIMATSUCHER e.V. interviewen Zeitzeug*innen des Holocausts, dokumentieren ihre Geschichten und erzählen sie dann in Schulklassen und unserer Ausstellung weiter. Der Überlebende Elie Wiesel sagte einmal: »Jeder der heute einem Zeitzeugen zuhört, wird selbst ein Zeuge werden.« Und so sehen wir unseren Auftrag darin, als »Zweitzeug*innen«, (junge) Menschen stark gegen jegliche Art von Rassismus und Fremdenfeindlichkeit zu machen. HEIMATSUCHER e.V. ist laut § 78 SGB VIII anerkannter Träger der freien Jugendhilfe.

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