"Anyone can go to the Holocaust museum [in Washington DC] but not everyone gets this experience." ~A. Speitel (student, 17)
You can easily download and print Frieda's biography here (pdf)
Frieda Tabak is a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Jewish Community. She was born in Lipcani, Romania and is a survivor of the Holocaust.
For Frieda and her family the Second World War became a reality when Soviet soldiers marched into their town in 1940 immediately after Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler agreed to divide Romania and Poland between them. Because her family had been members of a fairly comfortable middle class, the Soviets felt that they were too rich and confiscated all their property. She and her family had to flee from their hometown and Frieda's uncle took her, her brother and their parents into his house in Chernowitz, Romania.
One June 21, 1941 Adolph Hitler declared war on the Soviets. Within two weeks Chernowitz was overrun with Nazi soldiers remained under Nazi occupation until June 1944. Upon Nazi arrival the Jews were immediately rounded up, put in a ghetto, and then deported Transnistria where most perished from disease and starvation.
The Mayor of Chernowitz appealed to the Nazis to allow some of the Jewish professionals to remain in his town. Thus some Jews were given permits to stay. Frieda and her family were among the fortunate few to obtain such a permit. Though more fortunate than those sent away, life was still very difficult. Food was scarce, all Jews had to wear yellow stars for immediate identification, observe strict curfews, work at jobs assigned by the authorities, and Jewish children were not allowed to attend school.
Frieda's father was then taken to a slave labor camp in Romania. In 1944, towards the end of the war, Frieda’s family was liberated by the Soviet troops. But her travails were not over. Her father was taken to Russian labor camp where he spent nine months. Upon his return, because life under the Soviets was oppressive, she and her family obtained falsified documents and traveled in boxcars till they reached Poland, where they remained for a year. Then by foot and truck she managed to get to Germany where she was put into a displaced persons camp. Upon leaving the camp they moved to Munich where she went back to school for the first time in six years and placed in the equivalent of the 8th grade.
Frieda and her family left Germany in 1947 and came to Chester, Pennsylvania. There she attended Chester High School for her junior and senior year. She knew no English; but, within 6 weeks, she was able to keep up with her classmates, and graduated 8th in a class of 522. She went on to Temple University, where she obtained a degree in chemistry. She also took a course in Art Appreciation at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., and is continuing her education by auditing classes at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Frieda Tabak is widowed with 3 children and 3 grandchildren and lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.