The Kindness of POWs, War’s End


None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In the POW camp, one of the POWs Frieda met was a Russian artist, who painted her portrait, using the burlap from one of her skirts as a canvas. She can’t recall where he got his paint or brushes from – he may have been carrying them his pack when he was captured, or some kindly SS soldier provided them. In either case he had paint and brushes and managed to paint the portrait of Frieda. This portrait is now a cherished family treasure. The buttons of the sweater she wore in the painting have even been preserved with the portrait.

There was also a Polish POW named Leopold who also befriended her. He had a wife and daughter back in Poland, and he had been a reluctant recruit into the Polish army. He was a quiet, gentle man, with a background in mechanical engineering. He was a tinker, who loved to spend hours building and designing new tools/devices. He was not cut out for war, and hence found himself captured fairly early.

In the final months of the war they found themselves together in this camp, Frieda and Leopold. She was drawn to his quiet intelligence, he was drawn by her indomitable spirit.

When the war finally ended, they found themselves on the Russian side of Germany. Russian soldiers liberated their camp and initially wanted to kill Frieda (she was German, she was the enemy). Leopold saved her life, claiming she was his wife. Thankfully he was fluent in Russian.

From the camp they made their way to a small town on the German/Poland border and continued to play husband/wife so they could get a room together. It would take time to pick up the pieces of their fractured lives, but they had to start somewhere. Leopold had no desire to return to Warsaw and his wife and daughter, so he stayed with Frieda. She was still frail from her ordeal in the concentration camp and he set it upon himself to help her get back on her feet.

Frieda Written by:

Frieda was a woman born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1910. She suffered many tragedies in her life and still managed to over come them. These are her stories.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *