Fajga Wancjer

"Treat everyone with kindness and respect."

Name at birth
Fajga Karasek
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
At 14, I left home to find work. I eventually came to Warsaw.
Name of father, occupation
Moszek Karasek, Shoemaker
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sura Kobielinska, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and five children: Beryl, Hersz, Esther, her twin sister, and me
Who survived the Holocaust?
My two brothers Beryl and Hersz, my sister Esther and I survived. My parents, my other sister, her husband and child perished at Auschwitz. My sister Esther was a Partisan in France.
In 1939, my husband and I paid for an apartment with money I received as a wedding gift from my grandmother who was living in New York.  We were happy to be living in the city of Warsaw.  My husband was a member of the Communist Party and a Jew, and was warned by members of the Party to leave Warsaw before it was taken over by the Germans.
We left our apartment and went to Berezniki, Sverdlovsk, Russia.  My husband was taken away to a work camp, and I had to fend for myself, soon with a child, our daughter Anna.  I worked at anything I could do to make a little bit of money to pay for the room I stayed in and for the food for my baby.  Times were extremely harsh, and during this time, my husband became ill in the work camp.  He never fully recovered.  He died at an early age of complications from his illnesses in the camp.
After the war, we left Russia without any money or anything to sell.  We settled in Dzierzoniow, Poland where other members of my family lived.  Life was quite difficult there as well.  I had two small children, and my oldest daughter helped take care of them so that I could work.  My husband was always ill.  Our family moved to Wroclaw in 1956 when it was discovered that our youngest daughter had a musical talent and would flourish at a music school.  We moved to Wroclaw to give her that opportunity.  There was quite a large Jewish population in Wroclaw (formerly Breslau, Germany), and this would be a good move for the entire family.   
Where were you in hiding?
Fled to Russia
Where were you in the Former Soviet Union?
Berezniki, Sverdlovsk, Russia
Where did you go after being liberated?
In 1946, my husband, daughter and I moved back to Poland, we settled in Dzierzoniow, Poland where my son and younger daughter were born. We later moved to Wroclaw, Poland
When did you come to the United States?
1968, we left Poland after Gomulka made it even more difficult for Jews to live in Poland. We left in 1967, but waited in Rome for five months for our quota number to be called for entry into the U.S.
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
My eldest daughter, Anna Fajowicz (now Fein) and her family settled in Detroit two years earlier
Occupation after the war
Factory worker and cook
When and where were you married?
1939, in Warsaw
Hershel Wancjer, Civil servant
Anna Fein, beautician; Martin Wancjer, importer; Sonia Geoffrey, piano teacher
Four: Renee Fein, Hershel Wancjer, Bryan Geoffrey, Lauren Geoffrey Pisick
What do you think helped you to survive?
Determination! Also, I was a pretty good cook, and could prepare tasty food from scraps. I often bribed people with my food.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Treat everyone with kindness and respect.
Charles Silow
Interview date:


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