Greenspan (Gelbhauer), Lola

Greenspan (Gelbhauer), Lola

Myszkow (Poland), Sosnowiec, Gäbersdorf, Gross-Rosen

Greenspan, born in 1919, recalls a good deal of anti-Semitism in prewar Poland and in Myszkow, the town of her birth. Her father was a shoemaker, and Greenspan finished the seventh grade in school and had begun an apprenticeship in a dressmaker’s shop when World War II broke out.

Greenspan states that many of their gentile Polish neighbors told her parents that the Germans would be hard on the Jewish community and urged them to leave, but her parents refused to listen. Her older siblings also talked of fleeing to Russia, but all remained in Poland. Her father hid her youngest sister, aged thirteen, with a Polish neighbor. He grew afraid, however, that the entire family would suffer if the Germans discovered she was missing, and so he brought her back. At one point, the Germans cut off her father’s beard.

In 1940 Greenspan was picked up by the police on the streets of Myszkow and sent to Sosnowiec. She remembers living in a large hall filled with people, sleeping on the floor with only bread and watery soup to eat. She found her younger sister there and they remained in Sosnowiec approximately three months. They were then loaded on a train and transported to Gäbersdorf, Germany. Greenspan was separated from her sister on the train and describes the journey as crowded and dark, with no food and no sanitation facilities.

Upon her arrival at Gäbersdorf, Greenspan saw her sister and called to her. She was grabbed and beaten by two guards, who told her that there were no relatives in the camps. Her sister was sent to a work camp nearby while Greenspan remained in Gäbersdorf. She worked in a clothing factory, filling sacks with lint collected from the machines. She states that the conditions were not bad until the SS began running the camp in 1942. She managed to see her sister on two occasions, once by feigning illness and going to see the doctor located at her sister’s camp, and once by going shopping with her Lagerführer.

On one occasion Greenspan remembers being slapped at work by an SS guard because she was not working fast enough. She was taken to the basement with three other girls and their hair was cut off. She and the other girls were then paraded through the factory in front of the workers. A friend made a “wig” for her out of a babushka with clippings of her own hair for bangs.

In the spring of 1945 Gäbersdorf was liberated by the Russian army. Greenspan and her sister made their way back home. They found their house destroyed by fire. They asked their Polish neighbors about their family and were told that their father had been shot and killed by a German officer in front of their home and the rest of the family had been sent to Maidanek and Auschwitz.

Greenspan married in Sosnowiec and she and her husband remained in Poland until 1957, when they immigrated to Israel. In 1961 they moved to the United States.

Interview Information:
Date: April 25, 1983
Interviewer: Donna Miller
Format: Audio recording