Holocaust survivor tells her story

Stephany Mejia, News Editor

Richard Gelbart presented his mother Frances Gelbart, a holocaust survivor, to students and faculty on April 24 in Markstein Hall 125.

In a soft spoken voice, Gelbart answered 14 questions a student sent her. The questions consisted of her experiences in the camps, her faith in God and her life in the United States. She said she did not lose her faith in God because she always knew she would see her parents again.

Born in Poland as Francesca Immergluck (translates as always lucky), she told the audience her memories as a child of her mother explaining why her friends no longer wanted to play with her. She recalls seeing signs on restaurants saying, “Jews and dogs not allowed.”

Gelbart was separated from her parents and lived in the ghetto at 10 years old. She was transferred to five different concentration camps including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, same place where Anne Frank died.

Gelbart said she believes in miracles and angels. She recalls being transferred out of Auschwitz at age of 12 in 1942. She explained that those who were able to walk were evacuated and those who were weak got shot.

When being transferred out of Auschwitz, she said two of her toes were frozen due to the cold weather. A doctor, who was a prisoner, saw her limping and gave her recommendations of how to take care of her frozen toes.

Gelbart says the doctor is her angel that gave her a miracle. If the doctor had not saved her toes, Gelbart could have been killed in the camp. She said how thankful she is for the doctor, yet she never saw her again.

Gelbart shared her time in Bergen-Belsen and the inspections. She said that by a scratch or an imperfection, the prisoners were sent to the left to be killed. An officer asked Gelbart her name and after he asked her if she was lucky.

She recalls saying, “I hope so.” and the officer sent her to the right. She said her maiden name was another miracle because it saved her life.

Her parents survived and reunited with them and one brother out of seven siblings. Her parents were also separated from each other. She was liberated in Austria where her grandfather was cremated.

Gelbart arrived at New York along with her brother. She married a Cuban after six weeks of meeting in 1952. After 62 years of marriage, he passed away more than a year ago. She said her husband brought stability to her life and instead of focusing on her story, she focused more in raising her children.

Gelbart asked for a small break. While the break took place, everyone turned on their plastic candles given before the presentation.

Six candles were placed in the front where Richard Gelbart’s mother was sitting, and he explained it represented the six million jews who died.

The audience had the opportunity to ask her and her son questions. After the presentation, she showed her number on her left arm, given to her during her times in the camps.

“Life is a beautiful road to travel on, if you only relax and educate yourself first and others, because it’s necessary,” said Gelbart.