“Everybody — every human being — has the obligation to contribute somehow to this world”

—Edith Carter, Holocaust Survivor

Fannie Warren


Cincinnati Eyewitnesses: Fannie Warren

Our story about Fannie Warren, a local survivor, is reported by her son, Raphael.

Fannie was married shortly before the Germans occupied her town of Zwolen, Poland in 1939. As in most places, the Germans confiscated valuables and made life so expensive that people sold valuable items they had saved. Although losing most of her possessions, my mother refused to give up her gold earrings. Her parents had given her these earrings when she was a child in the 1920s, and they were precious to her.

In 1942, the Nazis sent all the Jews of Zwolen to camps, a process known as the liquidation of the town. My mother was sent to a series of camps, including Policzna, Skarzysko, and Bergen Belsen. Upon arrival in a slave labor camp, the prisoners were forced to strip naked. Panicking, she quickly placed her earrings under her tongue. When allowed to dress, she realized that these special earrings could not be worn at the camp; they would be noticed and confiscated, and she might be killed for her disobedience.

Through the long years in camps, despite being stripped of clothes and shoes, harassed by Nazi guards, freezing and starving, she refused to give up her earrings. Camp prisoners often exchanged remaining possessions for bread or favors, but as valuable as bread was to my starving mother, the link with her past was even more valuable. When she had shoes, she hid the earrings between her toes, and when barefoot, kept them under her tongue. It was the only item from her pre-war life that survived, her only tangible link to her family.

She was liberated on April 15, 1945. Her husband, parents, and sister Sarah died in Nazi camps. Of her immediate family, only her brother, Chaim, and she survived.

View Sarah Warren reflecting on the story of the earrings (2 minutes)

Fannie’s earrings are on display in CHHE’s permanent exhibit Mapping Our TearsHer story is told by her granddaughter, Sarah Warren, in CHHE’s documentary Dare to Speak. This DVD can be purchased for $10 by contacting CHHE at 513-487-3055.