Blanka and Fania Eckstein papers
Document | Accession Number: 2003.340.1
The papers consist of 17 photographs and 10 documents relating to the experiences of Blanka and Fania Eckstein before, during, and after the Holocaust.
- Document Creator
- Blanka Eckstein
Blanka Lifschütz was born in Lwów, Poland (Lviv, Ukraine) on September 8, 1931 to Adolf (Dolek) and Fajgl Fania (Franka or Franciszka, née Szwarcwald) Lifschütz. Adolf was a business man and the Lifschütz family owned a mill in Brody. Fania was one of five children of Aron and Bela Szwarcwald. Aron Szwarcwald was a businessman who owned sawmills. Fania’s siblings included brothers: Welty, Abe, and Markus, and her sister Sala Filer, who lived in Przemysl.
Dolek Lifschütz and Fania Szwarcwald married in 1929, but divorced in 1935. Fania re-married around 1937 to Szymon Eksztajn, a wealthy businessman. From 1939-1941, Szymon ran a mill with his brother Zygmunt, while Fania stayed at home. Blanka had a governess. After the German invasion of Russia in June 1941 a ghetto was established in Lwów. The Eksztajn family for forced into the ghetto in September 1941. Szymon found a room for himself, Fania, Blanka, Klara Ehrlich and her daughter Maryla, and Aron Szwarcwald. During one of the ghetto aktions , Blanka, Klara, and Maryla were hidden but Aron was taken away.
In November 1942, during the final aktion Fania and Szymon decided to leave. Their Polish neighbors in Lwów, Judge Andrzej Slowik and his wife, arranged for false papers for Fania and Blanka. Szymon, who worked at the train station for Austrians loading animal skins received Austrian Ausweisses from an Austrian soldier, and remained in the ghetto. In November 1942, Fania and Blanka with the assistance of the Slowik family and using their false identities (Blanka became Zofia Mikusinska and her mother became Elzbieta Mikusinska), took the train to Krakow, where they stayed for two months. They were blackmailed and decided to go to Warsaw, where they were able to stay for the next ten months. Fania had gold coins given to her by her father as well as jewelry, which helped them to survive and to pay off several blackmail attempts.
In the spring of 1943, a Polish woman, “Pani Majorowa”, who was the wife of a Major in the Polish Army before the war, recognized them as Jews, but did not turn them in. Pani Majorowa was helpful to Fania and Blanka in many ways, but she baptized Blanka in her Opus Dei church. In April 1943 Fania and Blanka were caught in a street round up and taken to Germany for forced labor as Polish women. Blanka and her mother were registered with the Arbeitsamt (labor bureau) in Bremen, Germany and sent to work on the farm of Johann Kaemena near Bremen. Blanka remembers that it was the farmer, who told her about mass killings in concentration camps. She worked milking cows. Mrs. Kaemena slapped Blanka on one occasion and Fania complained in the labor bureau. The two were then separated, Blanka was assigned to a different farm, but they were later reunited working in a jute factory in Delmenhorst.
After their liberation, Fania and Blanka stayed in Bremen, where the Jewish Community took them under their wing. They returned to the pre-war name of Eksztajn, but spelled Eckstein. Blanka attended school at the DP camp in Bremen. Fania found out that her husband Szymon lived in Vienna, Austria with Lonia Turkel, a woman who was with him in hiding. She traveled to Vienna and obtained a divorce from him. In June 1946 Fania and Blanka sailed to the United States on board the Marine Perch. Fania worked in a sweatshop and Blanka attended school. In the early 1950’s Fania returned to Europe, where she lived until her death. Blanka graduated from college and lived in New York City.
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Blanka Eckstein.
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.
Record last modified: 2023-02-24 14:07:00
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