Frances was born in Paris amid the turmoil of the German’s WWII invasion. Her parents immigrated to France from Poland, seeking asylum. Worried that they could not protect their daughter, Frances’s parents placed her in a Catholic children's home at age three. Her mother was then deported to Auschwitz in 1942, where she died, pregnant with Frances's only sibling. Her father joined the French Resistance and died from combat wounds in 1946. Thus began her strife as a “hidden child,” a name given to Jewish children given up from their parents, and hidden from the Nazis.
Frances has had two religions, five names, seven homes, and eight families before immigrating to America after the war was over. She shared with students her struggle with anger, bitterness, and isolation during her childhood and early adulthood. It wasn’t until she was older that she came to understand the bravery of her parents in their decision to separate from her, saving her life.
“I remember most being jealous and resentful that I was not part of a family,“ expressed Frances. Growing up in various foster homes, she was often seated away from the host family's birth children, never sharing in the joys of dinner table laughter, toys, and treats. She longed for familiarity, security, and mostly for the family she barely remembered.
Students asked questions on her experience as a survivor, refugee, and her perspective on 21st century genocide across the globe. Frances charged them with the responsibility to “learn from the past, and pursue even the smallest acts of kindness to eliminate hatred and radical violence.”
Students shared their reflections following the visit:
“Hearing Frances tell her story was something I’ll never forget. It’s so hard to try to understand the atrocities of the Holocaust. I’m so thankful that I got to hear from someone who lived through it.”
“It’s surreal that this took place only 70 years ago. Frances also reminded us that we still have terrors like this happening all around the world. We have to speak up about those.”
"Her childhood was filled with so much sadness. She was very brave for coming to America to start a new life after losing her family."