Freya Karoline Lang

Freya Karoline Lang

Born: June 13, 1934

Lambsheim, Germany

An only child, Freya was born to Jewish parents who lived in a small German town in the Rhine River valley. The Langs owned a successful dry goods business. At this time ready-made clothes were still rare in the countryside. Townspeople and local farmers would purchase fabric at the Lang's store and then take it to their tailor or seamstress to be sewn into a garment.

1933-39: When I was growing up, the Nazi party was in power. Many Jews left Germany--Grandmother Lang and one of my uncles sailed for America. But father didn't want to leave his business. He opened a new store in Mannheim, where we moved. On November 10, 1938, the Nazis rampaged, wrecking Jewish stores and arresting Jews [Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass]. They padlocked my father's store and took him to the Dachau concentration camp. He was released in 1939.

1940-44: When I was 6 years old, my family was sent to a detention camp in France. An aid society managed to get me out and I was hidden with a French farm family--the Didiers. For safety, I was taught to be a "Catholic." When my classmates made their first communion, I wanted to also because everyone wore such a pretty white dress. But Madame Didier said no. She didn't say I was Jewish, just that I should "wait for my parents so they could be there." How I cried. After all, I no longer realized that I was Jewish.

In 1946 Freya was reunited with her father. She learned that days after she had been taken from the camp, her mother had been sent to Auschwitz, where she perished.