Klein-Biegel (Zalman Mandel), Frida
Zavadka (Slovak Republic)
Born in Zavadka, Slovak Republic, Biegle was living in her home town with her husband and son when the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia. She describes Zavadka as numbering about 150 non-Jews and 10 Jewish families. The Germans evacuated the Jews by cattle car to a ghetto in Lukow, Poland. Although the journey was difficult, all three survived. They lived five months in the ghetto before being moved to a labor camp nearby. Biegle and her husband and son lived in a crowded barrack with other men and women.
Every day they went to work in the forest. Biegle remembers that security was very lax, because the guards were local people, not Germans. One day, a non-Jewish messenger sent by Biegle’s brother-in-law came offering them the opportunity to obtain false papers. The family accepted. Since a family traveling together would attract too much attention the plan was for Biegle to leave with her son and her husband would follow shortly after.
One day Biegle took her son’s hand and simply walked away from the camp. Her husband never made the rendezvous and to this day she does not know his fate. Biegle obtained the false papers, but was not able to keep her son with her. He was placed with a family, and she was not able to see him for the remaining three years of the war. Biegle worked as a Christian maid for various families in Michalovce, Bracovce, and Bechovice Bistra.
After the war, Biegel was reunited with her son. She married another survivor who had two young sons. The new family made their way to Israel, Rome, Montreal, and finally in 1955 to the United States.
Date: August 15, 1990
Interviewer: Donna Sklar
Format: Video recording