Livia Fränkel


Livia Fränkel was 16 years old when she was forced to leave her hometown Sighet in Northern Transylvania. She was taken together with her family to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only Livia and her sister Hédi survived the Holocaust.


On 1 September 1939 the war broke out. Livia got frightened but at the same she felt safe in her hometown Sighet.

In 1940 it was decided that Transylvania would belong to Hungary. For everyone who were living in that area it meant that they changed citizenship. Hungarian became the official language, also in school. Livia had no problem with that as she already knew the language.

The Hungarian government passed laws that were discriminatory against Jews They were not allowed to have any riches such as jewellery or expensive carpets. They were not allowed to own horse carriages or vehicles. In 1942 all Jewish children were barred from the public schools.


In 1944 Jews were ordered to carry a six-pointed yellow star on their outer garment. Soon they were also forced to move into a ghetto that was put up on the outskirts of the town. One month later they were assembled at the railway station for deportation.

Walking down the streets of Sighet Livia started to say good-bye to her hometown. Onboard the cattle car she was tasked with checking which direction the train took. The next day she noticed the train had arrived in occupied Poland.


When Livia and her family arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau the men and women were ordered to line up. In the selektion that took place Livia and her sister Hédi got separated from their parents.

The sisters were brought to barracks where their hair was shaved off. From there they were pushed into cold showers and then further on into the camp.

Some time after their arrival Livia and Hédi were selected for work and transported to Hamburg where they performed slave labour and build provisional houses for the people living there as the city was bombed every night and day.

1945 and Postwar Experiences

When the Allied forces approached Hamburg the slave labour camp was shut down and Livia and other prisoners were transported to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.

April 15, 1945, the camp was eventually liberated. Livia and Hédi were slowly recovering. Later on they were brought to Sweden in a Red Cross project called the Bernadotte transport.