The Frydman family lived in and around Radom, Poland. Charles’ father and grandfather were kosher butchers. In summer they lived on a fruit farm and made a living selling produce. Nearly all the family
was rounded up and sent to ghettos and then concentration camps when the Nazis occupied Poland. Most of the family – including his mother, Chana, two younger sisters, and all those depicted in the exhibit photo were killed at Treblinka, a death camp.
Charles was interned in several small camps but soon escaped, joining the partisans in the Polish forests. After two and a half years in the forest, he was liberated by the Russians in January 1945. He says that he and the other Jews hiding in the forest wanted to survive to see the downfall of Germany because of the suffering it had caused his family and so many others. The single most important factor in his survival was looking forward to having a family of his own someday. He came to Dayton in 1950 and became a successful businessman. He and his wife, Renate, have four children and many grandchildren, all living in the Dayton area.
The Polish Underground, also known as the ‘Home Army,’ operated throughout the war under the direction of the exiled government in London. The espionage network was highly efficient and supplied much valuable information to the Allies. The underground movement was also joined by some Jewish refugees and supplied weapons for the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Before World War II, the largest single population of Jews resided in Poland. During the war years 2.9 million Jews died in camps or ghettos – 88% of all Polish Jews. Most families had been there for centuries, driven out of western European nations or Russia during the Middle Ages. It is believed that they numbered three million in the 1930s. Today there are virtually none. Most were rounded up and sent to camps when Germany occupied Poland in late 1939, and systematic extermination began early in 1941. Three million Polish Catholics also died in the Holocaust.