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Herman Frankel

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
1 July 1946
Interview number:

Interview Summary:

Herman was born in 1927 in Nowy Sacz, Poland. His father was born there. He attended University in Vienna to study engineering and plumbing and became a Master Plumber in Nowy Sacz. He was also a Member of Parliament. He had a brother in Cracow and a sister in Lvov. She owned a perfume factory which is now run by the government. His father’s mother was a descendant of the Sanz Rebbe, called Halberstam. His mother was from Vienna. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. They were an orthodox family. One brother went to New York, one brother married a Dane and another, Uncle Alfred married a Countess of the Habsburg family she had to renounce her religion and become Jewish. They were hidden during the war by Habsburg cousins and lived until the age of 90 in 1969. They had no children. His mother’s father had a furnishing business in Vienna. His parents met in Vienna and married in 1907. They had Stella born 1912 and Jozef born 1920. They lived in the East of the town in Ul.Sobieskigo 22/3. It was an apartment on the first floor and they had the use of cellars and the loft. 

Herman was sent to school in Vienna, where he stayed with family. He was there 4 years and left when Germany annexed Austria. He was put on a train and sent home. He attended a Catholic School for 18 months and Cheder. He belonged to Hashomer Hatzair. He mixed with the Jewish children at that school. He got on well with the non-Jewish children who were neighbours and they were delighted to see him on his return to Poland in 1997. When the Nazis occupied Poland, the shuls and schools closed, they remained in their home and were given work permits to continue working in the plumbing trade. Thereafter he endured great hardships: most of his family were murdered and he spent the war in slave labour camps in Mielec and Dachau.

In 1947 Herman came to Manchester, where he had been told there were other Polish boys. He joined the 45 Aid Society. He worked for the Urban Development Company as a plumber but after an accident at work he became a baker. 

We didn’t meet any anti-Semitism at school, just once or twice that I can remember one of the boys started something but the other boys quietened him down. We never fought with them, we didn’t have to, because the other boys that knew us were very, very kind, were very supportive of the Jewish boys.

In Flossenbürg, the people in charge were the air force personnel. They only called us out to go to work and nothing else. It was less than five minutes to walk to the workshop. We were 12 hours a day 7 days a week. There was no time off at all, because the work was [the] aluminium part, that built an aeroplane. Eventually they built the aeroplane further away, the Luftwaffe themselves.


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