Born in 1931 in Kaunas, lived in the Bialystok ghetto, survived in the Brańsk area. Author of the book: Luba Olenski [Luba Frank], “A Life Reclaimed: A Child Among the Partisans”,  Victoria/Melbourne 2006, Makor Jewish Community Library

My experience under the German occupation

On Monday 15 August, the Jews of the Bialystok ghetto were ordered to report to the square at 9am. Hearing this order, we thought that a second action was about to take place, so we started looking for hiding places. But late in the morning rumours arrived that they were going to take us to a camp. Innocent people were being deceived in this way. As ordered, we turned up at the designated place. I kept with strangers, because I had lost my parents on the first day of the war. From all sides of the square we could hear terrible shooting and grenade explosions. These were the ghetto insurgents who were defending the Bialystok ghetto. The crying of children and mothers was indescribable. I didn’t pay much attention to it, because from the first moment I was looking for a gentler death. Then they drove us outside the ghetto. There they herded us over the pit where all the Jews of Bialystok were. They stabbed with bayonets all night long. They killed many people on the spot. The next morning they herded us onto a train and sent us off in a transport. Where they took us, I did not know. It was only later that I learnt from the behaviour of the Germans that they were not taking us to a labour camp, but to an extermination camp, to Treblinka. I started to wander around the small window through which I could barely get my head out. I was constantly being driven away and ridiculed. From time to time a German with a rifle would peek into our carriage. Finally, having seen that Treblinka was approaching, I decided to jump out. It was not a rescue jump, but simply looking for a gentler death, because people were very afraid of dying at Treblinka. As I decided, so I did. When the train was running at top speed I barely squeezed through the window and jumped out. I do not remember the details. I only remember that when I woke up a peasant woman was standing next to me and told me to run away from there, because the Germans were still looking for me. From that day onwards, I wandered alone in an unknown area. Days and nights passed and I wandered around naked and barefoot. Wherever I stopped after a day’s wandering, I would stay the night under the open sky. My shoes and clothes were taken off me by peasants. I wandered like this for five weeks. One day I learned from a peasant woman that there were Jews in the nearby forest, who asked her to bring me to the well. I didn’t trust her, but I did as she instructed. That evening I met the Jews with whom I lived through the remainder of the German occupation.

11.10.1945, Fourth grade student, Luba Frank

Based on: AŻIH Archive, testimony no 301/1217