Charlotte Firestone

"Family is the most important thing.  There should always be Shalom Bais, (Yiddish for peace in the home)."

Name at birth
Charlotte (Sari) Schonfeld
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia
Name of father, occupation
Fabian Mikscha Schonfeld, Restaurant/tobacco shop owner, wounded WWI veteran
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Gizella Mandel, Restaurant/tobacco shop owner
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, Theodore, me, Hindu, Illonka (Helen Lang), Martin and Usher
How many in entire extended family?
Very large extended family
Who survived the Holocaust?
Me, my husband Sam Fuerstein, Helen Lang, Theodore, Martin, six cousins and an uncle
I was married before the war to Sam Feuerstein (Firestone).  We had a son, Alfred who died in Auschwitz, April, 1944 at the age of 2.  Sam was sent to the Russian front with the Hungarian army.

Prior to the birth of our son Alfred in August 1942, my husband Sam was captured by the Soviets and was taken to a Russian prison camp which coincidentally, his father was imprisoned in during World War I.  Sam later became a soldier in the Czech Legion.  

My son and I moved in with my parents in Mukacevo.  After the German occupation of Mukacevo in 1944, we were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where my mother, Gisella, and son, Alfred, were gassed upon their arrival.  After a short time in Birkenau, my sister and I were sent to Stutthof concentration camp in Poland. We were then relocated to Praust, a labor camp.  While in Praust, I was made a Stubältester, serving as senior inmate in charge of the barrack.  After six months in Praust, the entire camp was evacuated as Allied forces were approaching.  

The intention of the Nazis was to put all of the prisoners on a ship and then to sink it.  As we were marching in the woods, a Nazi guard revealed this plan to my sister.  He told her to flee by pretending to relieve herself.  My sister, a friend, and I ran away.  As we were fleeing in the woods, a man driving a van picked us up.  From the van, we saw other women trying to escape, but being shot.   The driver tried to protect us, he told us to say we were Hungarian nurses if we were stopped.  We were wearing coats over their prison uniforms.   The van was forced to stop by a Nazi woman.  She did not believe us when we said we were Hungarian nurses.  She said no you’re not; you’re Jews and we were thrown off of the bus.  We then fled deeper into the woods.  

There was rampant gunfire in the woods that night.  The three of us spotted a house with a light on.  We knocked on the door and pleaded for safety.  The door was opened by a Nazi soldier.  We said we were Hungarian nurses.  The house was occupied by the sanitation unit of the Nazi Wehrmacht.  They believed our story and told us to sleep in the barn where we were able to bury our prison uniforms.  Immediately afterward, the sanitation unit was ordered to Denmark and took us along while we were still posing as Hungarian nurses.

In Denmark, we were in a Nazi barrack outside of Copenhagen.  Everyday we would go into the city to get needed supplies.  While we were in the city we would search for Jewish faces.  The Danes, thinking we were Nazis, spit on us.  (Jewish Danes had been sent to Sweden for safety)  We returned to Germany with the sanitation unit.  We were able to locate and walk into the British offices in Leipzig, Germany and were liberated.

Later, I was reunited with my husband and immigrated to the United States in 1950.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where were you in hiding?
After escaping from the Nazis while marching, my sister, a friend, and I searched for a shelter to hide. We posed as Hungarian nurses and stayed in a barn near a house that Nazi soldiers were staying at. We traveled to Denmark with them and then to Leipzig while posing as nurses still.
When did you come to the United States?
When and where were you married?
Before the war in Mukacevo
Sam Feuerstein (Firestone)
Daughter Eva and twin sons, Jerry and Tommy
Three: Rebecca Lipton Warkol, MD; Jessica Lipton Shepherd, and Zachary Joel Firestone Three great-grandchildren
What do you think helped you to survive?
My sister and I helped each other survive. After I found out that my baby son was murdered, I gave up and tried to commit suicide by touching the electric fence. My sister pleaded with me that we needed each other to survive. Another Auschwitz prisoner warned me, “If you don’t feel good, don’t say you are sick. Don’t ever mention the word sick.”
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Family is the most important thing.  There should always be Shalom Bais, (Yiddish for peace in the home).
Daughter, Eva Firestone Lipton
Interview date:
To learn more about this survivor, please visit:
The Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, University of Michigan

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