Skip To Content

Felicia Friedman, 94, Holocaust Survivor Who Refused To Relinquish Her Faith

(JTA) — In 1939, 13-year-old Felicia Friedman was ripped from her family and sent to the Płaszow concentration camp outside Krakow, Poland, where she saw the infamous Nazi war criminal Amon Göth kill her 6-year-old cousin.

After later hearing another teenaged inmate declare that after all she had witnessed she no longer believed in God, Deutscher responded that God did exist but that humans had chosen the path of evil.

Felicia Friedman

Felicia Friedman Image by

“My father – her husband to be – overheard the conversation and was very impressed by the remarks of this young girl,” Friedman’s son, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, told The Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “They agreed to meet again if they were both able to survive the war.”

After the war, Friedman discovered that her entire family had been wiped out by the Nazis, but she managed to reconnect with the young man from Płaszow. The pair married and attempted to make their way to pre-state Israel. Turned away at the Italian border, they ended up in a displaced persons camp in Germany before moving to the United States in 1947.

Friedman, who died of COVID-19 in Florida on May 19 at the age of 94, wound up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where she began taking night classes to improve her English while working as a bookkeeper and raising a family.

While lacking a formal Jewish education beyond age 13, Friedman was a proud and committed Jews. In Auschwitz, declined to beg for mercy from a guard who was beating her, even though the guard promised he would stop if she did. In America, she chose to raise her children with joy despite all she had endured, telling one of her grandchildren that the number tattooed on her arm was her phone.

“You moved to Florida,” the child said in response. “Didn’t you have to change your number?”

Friedman is survived by two children and 20 grandchildren.

The post Felicia Friedman, 94, Holocaust survivor who refused to relinquish her faith appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.