It was an emotional afternoon at St. Saviour High School on Wednesday, March 20, as Holocaust survivor Sally Frishberg took her place at the front of the gymnasium.
“I will begin by telling you the story of a survivor,” Frishberg began.
Born in Poland in 1934, Frishberg fled from German oppression and the Nazi occupation of Poland at the age of eight along with her mother, father and siblings.
Terrified and traveling from open field to open field nightly, “we never stayed more than one night in each field,” Frishberg added, they were afraid of being spotted.
Frishberg went on to describe her mother’s friend “Stanislav” who saved them. “He was the only person with the will to help,” she remarked.
Frishberg described life in Stanislav’s attic: Two years, 11 people, and a strict diet of only boiled beans and potatoes.“We were stick figures, but we were alive,” Frishberg reminisced.
In 1944, Frishberg and her family were liberated by the Russian army. They returned home only to realize that no one else had. “Everything was gone,” she said.
Her family was threatened by surrounding neighbors, telling them that the authorities would be notified if they did not leave immediately. “So we walked,” Frishberg said with a smile. “We had done this before.”
They had eventually reached an American zone in Germany, where Frishberg recalls an overwhelming feeling of happiness and safety, as the Americans helped, not only clothe, feed and house them, but find her uncles—her father’s brothers—in America.
Once in America, Frishberg told the St. Saviour students, learning became a priority. “The more you learn, the easier the battle gets,” she said.
Frishberg went on to graduate from Brooklyn College and become a guidance counselor at Fort Hamilton High School.
Eileen Postler, history teacher at St. Saviour and organizer of the event, spoke about how inspired she was by Frishberg’s story. They had first met at the Museum of Jewish Heritage where Frishberg was a speaker.
“It’s a small world,” Postler commented. It turns out that Frishberg was her sister’s guidance counselor at Fort Hamilton High School. Postler’s sister, Carol Karas, seated in the front row of the gymnasium during the event, regards Frishberg as an incredible woman who really helped her come out of her shell in school.
Students sat in the gymnasium that day moved and motivated. Senior Elizabeth Texeira was in awe of Frishberg and “everything she had overcome.” Julia Dineen, another student, remarked, “Her story was inspirational. Such passion. Such detail.”
Leaving the students with a final message and a word of advice, Frishberg said, “If you want a better world, join those who are working toward that goal. I want a better world for my grandchildren. I have four of them.”