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Holocaust survivor: Lawrence resident recalls concentration camps, losing family

Lou Frydman, about two thirds of the way to the right, in the middle row and wearing a white coat, stands out in a group photograph made after World War II's end in Heidelberg, Germany. The picture was taken at a children's school Frydman attended for nine months in Germany following the war.

Lou Frydman, about two thirds of the way to the right, in the middle row and wearing a white coat, stands out in a group photograph made after World War II's end in Heidelberg, Germany. The picture was taken at a children's school Frydman attended for nine months in Germany following the war.

December 1, 2008

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Lou Frydman, 77, of Lawrence, is a Holocaust survivor. He was first put into a concentration camp on April 28, 1943, at age 12.

Lou Frydman, 77, of Lawrence, is a Holocaust survivor. He was first put into a concentration camp on April 28, 1943, at age 12.

“I survived three ghettos, nine concentration camps and three death marches,” says Holocaust survivor Lou Frydman, 77. “My (older) brother Abraham and I are the only survivors of a family which once numbered over 40 individuals.”

When Germany invaded his native Poland in 1939, Frydman’s family was forced from its Lodz apartment into a series of ghettos until finally captured with 400 others during the Warsaw Uprising.

“My concentration camp experiences began on April 28, 1943, when I was 12,” Frydman says. “As we emerged from the bunker where we’d been hiding, the Nazis removed our belongings. All the men, including my father and uncles, were led away and executed nearby. The rest of us were marched through the burning ghetto to the train for a five-hour journey to Majdanek, a deadly concentration camp in eastern Poland.”

Two days later, a camp announcement called for all expert male metal workers to step forward.

“My mother ordered us to volunteer,” Frydman says. “At her bidding, Abraham and I raised our hands, and our lives were saved. We were immediately marched to a waiting train. I never saw my mother again. She couldn’t have survived more than six months. In November 1943, all 42,000 Jewish prisoners in the Majdanek camp complex were executed.”

Frydman survived a year at Budzyn before being moved to other camps either by marching or train. One train ride included a horrific “selection” stop at Auschwitz station.

“Everyone got off the train and lined up. Able-bodied men and women were directed to the left,” Frydman recalls. “Children and adults determined unfit to work were sent to the right to be gassed. The air was laden with the acrid smell of burning flesh. Witnessing the column of those shuffling towards the crematoria defied human comprehension.”

On a later death march from Natzweiler to Dachau, Frydman was separated from his brother.

“I couldn’t continue,” he says. “I urged Abraham to go on because he’d be shot if he stopped to help me. My next memory was waking up in an American Air Force hospital after the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945. I’ve no memory of being rescued or liberated.”

Three months later, he and Abraham were reunited. The United Nations Refuge Rehabilitation Agency made arrangements for their travel to New York and placement with the Jewish Childcare Association.

The brothers survived a series of unhappy foster homes until they finished school and got their own apartment. Frydman worked a variety of jobs and attended night classes at City College, N.Y. He became a U.S. citizen in 1953, graduated top of his class in sociology in May 1954, married Jane Brunner in Central Park the following December, and received his master’s degree in social work from Columbia University in 1956.

In 1969, Frydman accepted an associate professorship at Kansas University’s School of Social Welfare.

“We intended to stay a few years, but my boys loved Lawrence, and we’ve been here ever since,” he says.

He’s doesn’t know why he survived when others did not.

“I think it was partly luck, my mother’s quick thinking and sacrifice, my brother’s support, and the different thought processes I used to keep me alive,” he says.

Comments

Christine Anderson 6 years, 5 months ago

This piece makes me weep for what he and all others like him endured. It also makes me feel rage deep down towards those who think the Holocaust was a fabrication, or that the horror of it was exaggerated. The first to come to mind is the current president of Iran.

ksmax 6 years, 5 months ago

My heart aches when I read these stories. I just can't even begin to comprehend why humans could treat others that way. We are ALL made of flesh and blood, which makes us equals. No person is better than any other, because of race, gender, religion.

Bassetlover 6 years, 5 months ago

Louis Frydman is a Lawrence treasure. He is a phenomenal example of being able to transcend the horrors of his childhood and creating a happy, productive, and noble life despite it. His personality radiates genuine kindness, warmth, and joy. I hope he continues to tell his story so that we never, ever forget.

bondmen 6 years, 5 months ago

Darwinian evolutionists posit some human "races" have evolved to a higher plane than others and as such are superior in intellect and are therefore destined by nature to rule over and control other lesser developed human "races" found lower on the tree of life. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot among others held this view and acted on it to the detriment of millions of innocent lives. Beliefs are a most powerful force in human nistory.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 5 months ago

Louis Frydman : Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. I met you when I was 15 or 16. I had no idea you were a survivor of the Holocaust. When I met you, (at age 16) I felt that you respected me, and always made me feel welcome. You are living proof that race, gender, or ethnic backgroud has nothing to do with ones self worth.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 5 months ago

Invictus: The nation of Poland did not, at the time of the Nazi invasion, have a Bill of Rights identical to ours. And even if it did have a Second Amendment identical to ours, the overwhelming Nazi blitzkrieg rendered private ownership of firearms by Polish citizens somewhat irrelevant, don't you agree? Hunting guns vs. Panzer tanks, is such a battle what you are suggesting the Polish Jews should have undertaken?For your information, Polish Jews did resist the Nazis with every means at hand. But at the outset they were outgunned and overmatched when confronted by the German Army and the SS. If you want to point blame at "these people" for not fighting harder, then please include the entire population of Poland at that time, not just its Jewish portion. The entire nation of Poland resisted the Nazis, all to no avail.

Confrontation 6 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps, Invictus, when you graduate from Junior High, you'll be able to understand this war a bit better. I'd recommend that you take several history classes in high school.

gdsacco 6 years, 5 months ago

"The Jews made armaments in slave labor camps ... (t)hey were effectively collaborators and part of the Nazi war machine."You might look up "slave labor" before you try to use it in another sentence.

Calliope877 6 years, 5 months ago

If you think this survivor's story is sad, you should read Elie Wiesel's "Night." I gurantee that you'll cry throughout most if not all of the book.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 5 months ago

Lou Frydman's story is one of strength, the will to go on, and unfortuantely this piece didn't begin to do it justice. Eileen did a terrific job of writing with the amount of space allotted to her, but this story deserves more than a few columns in our local newspaper. I hope this is just the beginning and that someone, perhaps Lou, will take the time if he hasn't already to write the complete story. God bless....

trinity 6 years, 5 months ago

calliope, i think the fact that lou is so close to home is what makes this survivor story sad, as you said. yes, "night" is tragic and very sad also. but the author of that story wasn't one of my profs in the school of social welfare. and invictus-just shut your flan hole. this story was not intended to be a forum for you to flaunt your rather uninformed view of the holocaust, m'kay?hugs to you, lou frydman! you were one of my favorite instructors&i learned so much from you(much of which went way beyond the subject at hand). i'm so privileged to have been in a class you taught!

tanaumaga 6 years, 5 months ago

invictus, you're kind of like a piece of corn leftover in a steaming pile...you just can't be digested.

yankeevet 6 years, 5 months ago

Assigned too the 8th AirForce; my Dad flew B-17 Bombers deep into the heart of Germany; my Uncle marched thru Germany with the 8th Infantry and saw the horrors of these concentraion camps. I am sure Hitler is still burining in hell.............

Fort_Aubrey 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for sharing your story Mr. Frydmann.It sure would be fun to watch Marion try to defend his hero of history, the discredited Holocaust-denier David Irving, in front of Mr. Frydmann.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ir...

freesample 6 years, 5 months ago

I am sure Hitler is still burining in hell………….Didnt you see the movie Little Nicki??? He has a pineapple shoved up his a** everyday for the rest of eternity! haha

alm77 6 years, 5 months ago

This was horrible and we think that it's in the past, but the fact is that it's still happening. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/11/20/sbm.overview/index.html

Connacht 6 years, 5 months ago

"I am sure Hitler is still burining in hell…………."Unless he died a Christian, which would put him in Heaven. I always found it a terrible condemnation of Christianity that so many of those Nazis would go to Heaven for their Christian faith alone, whereas all the Jews they murdered were destined for Hell. Even if Hitler did go to Hell, assuming you believe in such places, then the Jews he had killed are right there with him for their lack of faith in Jesus, since virtually all Christian churches teach salvation by faith and not by works.Just something to consider while you take pleasure in Hitler's supposed eternal torment.

Bobo Fleming 6 years, 5 months ago

To Connacht. Christians believe there is forgiveness for sins but it requires admission of guilt on the part of the sinner and the vow to not repeat the sin.If the Nazi;s truly met these conditions then they could be in heaven. I doubt if many qualified.

Connacht 6 years, 5 months ago

Senegal,I've met Christians who believe a lot of different things. In fact, I don't think I've met two Christians that could completely agree with each other. And even if you are correct in your assertion the admitting and asking for forgiveness is a prerequisite for entering Heaven (since most Nazis were Christians, this was probably more than you would like to think) you would have to admit that all six million Jews killed by the Nazis are also in Hell. How is it that anyone can condemn Hitler for a finite amount of suffering while worshiping a god that allows an infinite amount of suffering after death for something as simple as a lack of faith? This might not be something people want to think about, but I can't take condemnation of Hitler seriously from anyone who believes in eternal damnation. or suffering.

Bobo Fleming 6 years, 5 months ago

There is a web site called Memri which shows middle east telecasts. Its worth watching. Often many of the speakers express the most extreem antisemitic nonsense. The other day one of the telecasts carried a "religious" leader who indicated that the creation of Israel was God's way of getting all of the Jews into one place where they would be easier to kill. So while considering the holocaust of the past it would be wise to keep an eye on these guys because they are planning one for the near future.

Bobo Fleming 6 years, 5 months ago

Connacht- sorry you have had a bad experience with Christians. My experience with them finds that they are less dogmatic than you think.Most are just trying to make their way through life the best that they can and trying to lead a life thats gets them to heaven. They arent really that intersted in keeping other people out.

kugrad 6 years, 5 months ago

I used to be almost annoyed by holocaust stories when I was in my youth, but then I said as much to one of my teachers and she showed me numbers tattoed behind her ear and on her wrist. She got them when she was a child in a concentration camp. It has like being slammed in the gut. I finally got it. Thank you Mr. Frydman for sharing your story. To me, the scary part is that the people who committed these atrocities were not monsters who wore manacles and cackled as they are often portrayed on TV. Instead, they were normal people who became brainwashed by jingoism and hatred and propoganda. When we invaded Iraq, we saw the same potential in this country, with people talking of killing liberals, questioning the patriotism of those who opposed the war, and even blaming liberals for causing 9/11, which is absurd. Ironically, we also saw this during the Reagan administration when our country was the sponsor, rather than victim, of terrorism and they drew up plans for internment camps for dissidents in the USA. Scary chapters in our history both. Of course neither brought us to the horrors of the holocaust, but they were steps along the same path.Thanks again Mr. Frydman, your story brought tears to my eyes.

Connacht 6 years, 5 months ago

Senegal,I've had both bad and good experiences with Christians. My observation about the diversity in belief is just that, an observation. Meaning that it's impossible to say "Christians believe X" when it takes no effort to find a Christian that believes something different. My only real point was that its hard to take seriously anyone who condemns Hitler's actions while worshiping a god that allows much worse.

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 5 months ago

kugrad, You make an excellent point about how people became brainwashed and convinced to do despicable acts. Reinhold Neibhur said that you don't convince good people to commit evil, you convince them that the evil is actually good or convince them to do nothing about evil. I had Professor Frydman as an faculty member and remember what a kind and gentle soul he has. To witness and experience those atrocities and maintain his own sense of humanity is very admirable. We could all learn alot from Lou Frydman and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do so.

3ofClubs 6 years, 5 months ago

I also had Lou as a professor many years ago in social work. He was an inspiring professor and he is a wonderful soul. I am grateful to read his story. But then I guess I should also mention that I sat by Marion in one of my ol' KU classes back then. Boy, talk about a trip down KU Memory Lane!

AjiDeGallina 6 years, 5 months ago

hmm, Marion forgot to quote his favorite author who, among other things, claims the Holocaust was not as bad as they made it out to be.

Fort_Aubrey 6 years, 5 months ago

"You can believe what Profesor Frydman has to tell you" Oh wow. Do I feel better. Marion has given his agreement, tries to demonstrate a mastery of something, and doesn't invoke a Denialist's opinion. For once.

tunahelper 6 years, 5 months ago

hitler was NOT a Christian. The Holocaust was real. hitler is and will be burning in hell for all of eternity.If you can read this, thank a teacher.If you can read this in English, thank an American Soldier.

TopJayhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

Professor Frydman, you have my profound respect. I know I could not have survived such horrors. In my work at Menningers I have dealt with other survivors from around the country. I have seen the tattoos. I have read personnal historys. Those that deny the holocaust, are not to be trusted as they have hidden agendas.Thank You Professor Frydman.

Mike6569 6 years, 5 months ago

“I survived three ghettos, nine concentration camps and three death marches,” says Holocaust survivor Lou Frydman, 77. “My (older) brother Abraham and I are the only survivors of a family which once numbered over 40 individuals.”When Germany invaded his native Poland in 1939, Frydman’s family was forced from its Lodz apartment into a series of ghettos until finally captured with 400 others during the Warsaw Uprising.“My concentration camp experiences began on April 28, 1943, when I was 12,” Frydman says.May 7, 1945 - Unconditional surrender of all German forces to Allies.9 concentration camps in 2 years? Sounds like a 12 year old liar.

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