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Ziegler family photograph collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.340.1

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    The collection consists of nine photographs depicting Miriam Ziegler's (née Frydman) family before World War II in Ostrowiec, Poland, and Miriam Ziegler in the Bindermichl displaced persons camp and the Strobel children's home near Salzburg, Austria, after liberation.
    inclusive:  1924-1947
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miriam and Roman Ziegler
    Collection Creator
    Miriam Ziegler
    Miriam Frydman (Friedman) was born on May 21, 1935, in Radom, Poland, to Herschel Frydman and Hozia (Rose) Alkichen, born on September 18, 1912, in Ostrowiec, Poland. Herschel, a former soldier in the Polish Army, owned a stationary and general goods store above which the family lived. They kept kosher, and were active in the Jewish community. Holidays were spent with Miriam’s maternal grandparents, Herschel and Faiga Alkichen, in Ostrowiec, where they owned a fur store. Polish was spoken at home, but Miriam understood Yiddish.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Miriam and Hozia were driving to Ostrowiec when they heard gunfire and hid behind a mill, but they reached her grandparents’ house. Hozia’s cousin found a Polish farmer to hide Miriam. Hozia sewed money for the farmer in Miriam’s coat lining. The farmer’s daughter hated Miriam and made her live under the stairs in the unheated, rat infested barn. The farmer took Miriam begging and introduced her as his granddaughter. On these outings, Miriam saw Jews being rounded up, chased by dogs, and shot. While walking past a forest, she saw the bodies of four Jews hanging from the trees and recognized them as her cousins who had been in hiding. Afraid of being caught, the farmer sent Miriam home.

    By January 1942, the Germans turned over the Alkichen fur store to Polish owners and deported Herschel and Faiga to Auschwitz. Miriam, Hozia, an uncle, and an aunt, Bella Naiberg and her baby, were forced into a shared home in the Ostrowiec ghetto. During the day, Hozia went to work. At night, everyone hid in the attic. During a round up, Hozia was holding Bella’s baby when a soldier shot and killed the baby. One day, Miriam heard shooting and hid in the attic. When her mother and uncle found her, she was the only one left alive.

    Hozia found a Polish woman, a former customer in her father’s store, to hide Miriam. The woman treated Miriam well. Miriam did not look Jewish and, if she was seen, the woman said she was her niece. When people visited, she hid in a cupboard. The woman found out Herschel, Miriam’s father, was in a forced labor camp and working nearby. She gave Miriam a bread basket; Miriam found Herschel and pretended to sell him bread. He told her that her mother and Aunt Bella were in the same camp and that Hozia worked in an iron factory. During one visit, she did not want to go home and they stayed overnight in a barn where Jews were hiding. Miriam wanted to stay another night, but Herschel refused; that night, the barn was raided and everyone killed.

    In April 1942, the Polish woman’s husband, a soldier, returned, and Miriam had to leave. She told her father and, after work, the prisoners smuggled her into the camp. There were six other hidden children. Miriam cleaned bricks and loaded them onto trains. When she got sick and could not work, she hid in the kitchen and made noodles and peeled potatoes. During inspections, the children hid in the outhouses or under the bed covers. On August 3, 1944, the camp inmates were deported to Auschwitz. They boarded a cattle car without bathroom facilities or food. People were screaming and crying and many died. Upon arrival, men and women were separated. Hozia and Miriam were taken to the showers; Miriam’s head was shaved and she was tattooed with prisoner number 16991. They were housed in barrack B2B and fed soup and bread. During a selection, all the women, Hozia included, were taken.

    In September, Miriam was taken to the former Roma Camp in Birkenau concentration camp. Boys and girls were separated. Miriam saw her 16 year old cousin in the boys’ barracks. Every morning, the children were brought outside naked, counted, and examined. Anyone with marks on their body was selected for medical experiments. Her cousin was one of them. Miriam was selected, but did not know what they did to her. Some tried to escape and were beaten, shot, or electrocuted on the electric fence. At one roll call, Miriam saw her grandmother, Faiga. Whenever Miriam was in the yard, they talked. The female German guard liked Miriam and gave her extra bread that she gave to Faiga. One day, the Germans left. Miriam and other children went to Auschwitz and brought back food and clothing. After three days, the Germans returned. They told the children that if they wanted to live, they should to get in line. Miriam got in line; an aunt saw and pulled her out.

    On January 27, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated the camp. Faiga returned to Ostroweic. Miriam was sent to a children’s home in Krakow. She had tuberculosis and an eye infection and was sent to a sanatorium in Rabka. Polish children threw grenades at the Jewish children, so they were sent back to Krakow. Miriam left a note at the Krakow train station with her whereabouts. After liberation from a German work camp, Hozia and Bella were in Czechoslovakia, planning on going to Palestine. A friend of Hozia’s saw the note and told her about it. Hozia and Bella went to Krakow, found Miriam, and returned to Ostroweic. Miriam was still sick, so Hozia sent her to a children’s home in Warsaw. They learned that her father, Herschel, was killed on a death march. In 1946, with no work or permanent home, the family left Poland. They were arrested at the Czech border and imprisoned, then placed in Bindermichl displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria. That year a memorial monument was erected. Miriam unveiled the monument and spoke to Parliament about her experience. Hozia sold papers and books at a kiosk. She could not look after Miriam and sent her to the Strobl children’s home near Salzburg. An American reporter interviewed Miriam and published her story in a New York paper. Relatives in the United States sent care packages, but the family could not go to the US as the quota had been reached. In 1947, the Canadian government permitted one thousand Jewish orphans to enter Canada. On January 29, 1948, Miriam left from Bremerhaven, Germany, on the General Sturgis. She arrived on February 10 and went to live with a great uncle and cousin in Toronto.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged as a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    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.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The photographs were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Roman and Miriam Ziegler.
    Record last modified:
    2024-03-18 15:54:21
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