Fisk (Monczyk), Hanka (Anna)
Czestochowa (Poland), Gabersdorf, Gross-Rosen
Fisk was born in 1924 in Czestochowa, Poland, which she describes as a beautiful town. She was one of ten children. Of her immediate family only she and two brothers survived the Holocaust. Her father sold coal and repaired glass for a living, and because he was very learned in religious matters, he was often called upon by neighbors to decide cases relating to divorce and family problems. She recalls some anti-Semitism before the war, but generally remembers a pleasant life.
In July 1939 Fisk’s older sister married in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). Fisk attended the wedding and stayed for a prolonged visit. Her father left immediately after the wedding and this was the last time she saw him. In the spring of 1940 Auschwitz was made Judenrein (free of Jews) and all Jews were sent to Sosnowiec. Fisk remembers how she saw her cousin’s two-month-old baby taken away from her by a German soldier and smashed against a wall. She says that this memory is the worst part of the war for her.
After arriving in Sosnowiec Fisk’s brother-in-law was taken away by the Nazis. She remained with her sister and sister-in-law. In December 1940 they received a telegram from home stating that her father had died of pneumonia. Because he had been so religious, the Germans put him in the basement of the Church of the Black Madonna, removed his clothing, and doused him in cold water for two weeks. Upon his release he was ill and died shortly thereafter.
Not long afterward the Jews of Sosnowiec were sent to Gäbersdorf. Fisk recalls that the transport was crowded and that they had little food. They rode in boxcars with the livestock and conditions were filthy.
At Gäbersdorf Fisk worked at a cotton factory. She remembers the barracks as clean until Gäbersdorf became a concentration camp under SS control in 1942. A German officer offered to hide her in his home but she refused to leave the camp. She also saw Himmler at a roll call and feels the factory director saved her life by telling Himmler that she was needed to work in the factory.
Fisk states that the soap the prisoners were issued was called “RYF”–Rheine Yiddishe Fat–and they believed that it was made from the bodies of Jewish children.
After liberation by the Russians on May 8, 1945, Fisk and others were taken by truck to Waldenburg, Germany. She met her husband there and together they searched for their families. They remained in Staufen, Germany, until 1949. She recalls that the Germans of the town were very friendly and claimed to have known nothing about the camps, although the town was rumored to have had many Nazis. She describes the incident when a small German girl was sitting on her lap and began to run her fingers through Fisk’s hair. When Fisk asked why the child was doing this, her mother responded that she was looking horns because Hitler had told them that all Jews had them.
In 1949 the Fisks immigrated to the United States and in 1958 were joined by Mrs. Fisk’s niece. She had been given to a Polish woman in 1943 and raised as a Catholic. The family found her in Sosnowiec.
Date: January 24, 1983
Interviewer: Donna Miller