Research

Frankel, Ruth

Survivor/Hidden
Berlin (Germany), Antwerp, Detroit

Ruth Frankel was born in Berlin, Germany in 1937. She lived in East Berlin with her mother, Rosa Frankel. As Ruth was a very young child when the war began, she remembers only some parts of her life before the war. One instance she remembers is that of her mother taking her to the hospital to visit her father. She also remembers going home to her apartment with her mother and seeing their dog waiting for their return. The next thing she remembers is the day when her mother leaves her to be hidden. She was three years old at the time. Ruth remembers feeling frightened and scared. As a hidden child, Ruth was constantly being moved. Sometimes in Germany, she and the other children would be awakened during the middle of the night and told to hide in the woods and to be very still. Frankel says she as well as the other children were told that it was not a game and that bad people were out there who wanted to hurt children.

Eventually, Ruth ended up in a Catholic convent in Antwerp, Belgium. There were many children in the convent. In the convent, she went to school, was baptized (so G-d could protect her) and she had many friends. She felt safe in the convent. Ruth didn’t want to leave the convent behind, but the convent was closing and it was inevitable. Ruth felt attached to the kids and the nuns. So, Ruth was put on a boat to Holland, then went to England, then to New York, and finally put on a plane to Willow Run in Michigan where her Uncle Edward greeted her. He took her to Detroit. She was ten years old. Uncle Edward drove Ruth to the Jewish Social Service Bureau on Second Avenue, put her suitcase on the ground, and left. Frankel went from one social worker’s home to another. Finally, she came to the foster home of Rose “Bubby” Harris. Frankel remembers her as a good lady who was there for all the kids she cared for. Ruth stayed in the Harris’ home for two years. Unfortunately, Ruth couldn’t stay with Mrs. Harris because the Jewish organization didn’t want the children to get too attached. She was put up for adoption.

After the Harris home, she was taken to a home she calls “The Home From Hell.” Frankel was there for three and a half years. There, she was abused mentally and physically and was made to do all of the chores. Also, if there wasn’t enough food for dinner, then Frankel wouldn’t eat. One day Frankel didn’t go back and stayed with a friend. She then found a home with an Orthodox Jewish family. In January 1956 Frankel graduated high school. In December 1956 she was married. Now that she was married, she would never be alone again. Frankel has three children with her husband, and has visited Germany with her family. She also had done extensive research on her mother and father, hoping to find out more information. She wanted to talk about her story to educate people and to say that it could happen again. She hopes her story will show that children should be heard and they need to tell their story.

Interview Information:
Date: March 22, 2007                            
Length: 2 hours 40 minutes
Interviewer: Donna R. Sklar
Format: Video recording