Oral History

Blanka Rothschild describes returning to Lodz after the war to look for family members

Blanka was an only child in a close-knit family in Lodz, Poland. Her father died in 1937. After the German invasion of Poland, Blanka and her mother remained in Lodz with Blanka's grandmother, who was unable to travel. Along with other relatives, they were forced into the Lodz ghetto in 1940. There, Blanka worked in a bakery. She and her mother later worked in a hospital in the Lodz ghetto, where they remained until late 1944 when they were deported to the Ravensbrueck camp in Germany. From Ravensbrueck, Blanka and her mother were sent to a subcamp of Sachsenhausen. Blanka was forced to work in an airplane factory (Arado-Werke). Her mother was sent to another camp. Soviet forces liberated Blanka in spring 1945. Blanka, living in abandoned houses, made her way back to Lodz. She discovered that none of her relatives, including her mother, had survived. Blanka then moved westward to Berlin, eventually to a displaced persons camp. She immigrated to the United States in 1947.

Transcript

After the war was over and after my experience after the liberation, there was a period of time of two weeks that I was in Poland. There was--I don't know how to explain this, but this was a Polish man that had several little carts, and they were leaving the German village. They had a large Polish flag, and they said anybody that wants to go and join him back to Poland can do so. And I lived with the, with the Germans, with the French ex-prisoners of war at that time, and I said to myself, "I should go because maybe my mother came back. Maybe my aunt came back. My first responsibility is to see who came back, so I will go back to my city." So I joined this caravan, and, indescribable journey, we finally reached Warsaw. Warsaw was reduced to rubble. It was unrecognizable, and I had to go to Lodz from Warsaw. I had no money, I had no clothes, I had no luggage, I had nothing. I was just--and there was a man with a semi truck, sort of. And I found out that this man standing there, he said, "Hop on, you can go with me." And I hopped on, and we traveled to Lodz. And he stopped on the way, and he went to eat. I didn't want to tell him I'm hungry. We drove all the way to Lodz. He never thought of giving me piece of bread, but I reached Lodz. And when I went to the house that we lived in before, the Polish superintendent who took care of the building reacted with tremendous surprise--not elation, but surprise that I survived and came back. And what for? He said, "You don't even have to go to your place because the Germans emptied it. They took the carpets and everything. There is nothing left and other people live there." I said, "Maybe something is left. I want to go up." And I went up, and they wouldn't let me in.


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  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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