Manya Friedman, a Holocaust survivor and a volunteer speaker for the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., addressed the Cleveland City Club Youth Forum on November 3. Her compelling brought an emotional response from all in attendance. When was asked why she shared her stories with everyone even though they were her worst possible memories, she stated, “ It does hurt to talk about the past, but if I do not share my experience with others then there is always the opportunity for the same thing to happen once again.”
Manya Friedman was in German captivity for six long years, when every single day was a fight for her life. While a German prisoner, she was no more than a number, 79357, a number that still haunts her today.
When Manya was a young girl, her family moved to Sosnowiec, Poland, to be closer to relatives. It was there that Manya first experienced anti-Semitism. Within a few short months the Germans occupied the city of Sosnowiec. In 1941, under the Nazi occupation, Manya was forced to work for a German company that made military uniforms. She was poor at sewing and often struggled to make her daily quota. She thought every day she went to work would be her last. She was convinced that she would be killed because of her inability to produce her quota of uniforms. Two women, who were complete strangers to Manya, helped her complete her quota, a deed that ultimately saved her life. In March 1943, she was first taken to Gogolin Transit Camp and then to Gleiwitz Forced Labor Camp. After that day she never saw her family again.
Manya stayed in the camp for two years before being moved once to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. The train, unlike a normal passenger train, had no doors. She ultimately ended up in Rechlin Camp, where the Swedish Red Cross liberated her in April, 1945.