Ewa Frenkel Przemyslawska photograph collection
The collection consists of photographs of Ewa Frenkel Przemyslawska's life immediately after World War II in Łódź, Poland, where she worked in a Jewish kindergarten and of members of a Jewish cooperative in Łódź demonstrating on May Day.
- Document Creator
- Ewa F. Przemyslawska
Ewa Frenkel Przemyslawska was born as Ewa Chawa Rozenblum on July 15, 1920, in Dzialoszyce, Poland. Ewa was the oldest daughter of Elimelech Majlech Rozenblum (b. 1895), a small merchant, and Miriam Laja Gotfryd Rozenblum, (b. 1898). Ewa’s father was an orthodox Jew, but her mother was less observant, which was evident by her reading secular literature and singing. The Rozenblum family resided on 14 Polnocna Street in Łódź, Poland, where they moved in 1926. Ewa became active in the Communist party as a teenager. After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, it became obvious to the Communist youth that they had to escape. Her parents did not view Ewa’s leaving positively. During the first Rosh Hashanah under German occupation, prayers were not allowed, and Ewa had to stand guard. On November 5, 1939, Ewa left Łódź along with three girlfriends.
The four girls - Bluma, Sonia, Mania, and Ewa - traveled to Warsaw, Poland, by train and then to Zareby Kościelne, Poland, where they met their Communist party comrades from Łódź. They hired a boat which took them over the Bug River and reached Bialystok, Poland.
Bialystok was full of Jewish refugees. A group of refugees was sent to the T.O.Z. (Healthcare Association) summer camp location in Jaroszowka, and Ewa organized a collective there.
Ewa and seventeen of her friends lived together and slept together in one room. Ewa’s boyfriend from Łódź, Israel Frenkel, was in Bialystok as well. Ewa read in the newspaper that former political prisoners from Poland had priority in relocating to the Soviet Union. In December 1939 Ewa, Israel, and 2,000 other Polish Jewish refugees traveled by train to Magnitogorsk, Russia, in the Ural Mountains. The welcoming party at the train station held a banner reading: “Welcome our freed Byelorussian brothers.”
The temperature in Magnitogorsk in December reached -40°C. Ewa was assigned to a job carrying glass plates, and Israel worked in construction. Ewa tripped on ice and broke her arm. The young couple lived in one room in a barrack which housed 20 other couples. The furnishing in the room was at best rudimentary. Ewa was sent to learn how to mix concrete.
Ewa and Israel wrote to their respective parents about their intention to get married. The Rozenblum and the Frenkel families met in the Łódź ghetto and drank to the health (“L’Chaim”) of the young couple, giving their blessing for the marriage.
Ewa received a few postcards from her mother in the Łódź ghetto; her mother wrote that Ewa’s father was sick and needed fat in his nutrition. Ewa sent a package with pork fat to her orthodox but ailing father. This was the only source of fat available, but Ewa heard that the religious leadership in the ghetto permitted Jews to eat even pork to sustain their lives.
In November 1940 Ewa and Israel got married. As a married couple, they received a new Soviet internal passport which restricted their domicile. As foreigners they could not reside in the capital city of any Soviet republic. It was evident that they needed to leave the freezing cold of Magnitogorsk, especially since Ewa was pregnant. In addition Ewa, who had broken her arm and could not perform physical work, was sent to a preparatory course at the FZU Institute (Fabrichnyj Zavodskiy Uchilsche). She graduated with honors and at the same time went to night school to complete her high-school degree.
In December 1940 Ewa and Israel Frenkel traveled to Chelabinsk, Russia, and from there to Poltava, Ukraine. Israel wanted to work in a textile factory, but the only job he could find was as a meat cutter at an open-air market. This job, however, enabled Ewa and Israel to have enough food.
On February 2, 1941, their daughter, Nadia Frenkel, was born in Poltava. A few months later, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, and Israel was drafted into the Soviet Army. In August 1941 Ewa and Nadia left Poltava and traveled to Nizhnii Tagil, Russia, where the conditions were very difficult. Ewa moved south to Orsk, Russia, at the northern border of Kazakhstan, where she joined her friends.
In January 1942 Israel Frenkel was dismissed from the Red Army as a “non-reliable element” because he was born in Poland. He reunited with his wife and daughter in Orsk. Israel did not give up the idea of fighting against the Germans, and finally, in April 1943, he enlisted with the Kosciuszko Division of the Polish Army in the Soviet Union.
Ewa begged him not to enlist because of their family situation. Nadia was constantly sick with dysentery, and Ewa could barely earn enough for food. Israel’s answer was: “If you were not a mother to a young child, you would enlist too.”
In his letters during his military service, Israel bitterly complained of antisemitism in the Army. He concluded that if this was the way the new Poland would be, he would prefer not to live in Poland after the war. On October 13, 1943, Israel’s unit, part of the Polish division under the command of General Berling, participated in a battle of Lenino in Byelorussia (Belarus). Israel Frenkel and 3,000 other soldiers from the Polish division were killed in action during this decisive battle.
Ewa suspected that her husband was killed when she stopped receiving any correspondence from him. The official notification about Israel’s being missing in action arrived in March 1944.
As a result of the repatriation agreement between the Soviet and the Polish governments, Ewa and her daughter, Nadia, returned to Poland in May 1946. Ewa went to Łódź to find out if anyone from her family survived. She discovered that she was the only survivor and that her parents as well as her four siblings - Jakub Hersz (b. 1922); Israel (b. 1925); Cina Ziona (b. 1928); and Szlojmale (b. 1931) – were all deported from the Łódź ghetto in September 1942 during the “Sperre Aktion” to the Chelmno death camp where they were killed upon arrival.
In 1947 Ewa met Leon Zysman, a survivor of the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz and Mauthausen concentration camps. They were unable to marry because Ewa had no proof that her first husband, Israel Frenkel, was dead and Leon had no proof that his first wife and daughter did not survive Auschwitz. Their daughter, Marysia, was born in January 1949, and six months later, in July 1949, Leon died of heart failure – a direct result of his imprisonment in the concentration camps.
Ewa worked in two Jewish kindergartens in Łódź, and later she was the principal in a high-school that trained kindergarten teachers. After Leon’s death, Ewa decided to pursue her own education. In 1954 Ewa and her two daughters moved to Warsaw where Ewa attended university and graduated with an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Education.
In 1955 Ewa met Abram Przemyslawski. Ewa and Abram married in March 1959, and Abram immigrated to Israel soon after. Ewa and her two daughters joined him there in December 1959.
Ewa Frenkel–Przemyslawski worked as a researcher at the Henrietta Sold Institute for Behavioral Sciences until her retirement in 1985.
- System of Arrangement
- The collection is arranged as a single series.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The photographs were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Ewa Frenkel Przemyslawska in 2004.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Record last modified: 2020-05-21 08:28:41
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn515106