Janet Singer Applefield


“Although they knew they were risking their own lives, they simply responded to the cries of an abandoned child. They did not care who I was or what religious background I came from. Their motive was pure and simple: to save a child. My rescuers are the genuine heroes. They asked for nothing and gave everything.”

- Janet Applefield, a child survivor of the Holocaust 

For years, Holocaust Survivor Janet Applefield has told her powerful story and imparted her wisdom to Facing History and Ourselves students, teachers, staff and community members. She has touched the lives of so many people, and for that we are deeply thankful.

Janet Singer Applefield was born Gustawa Singer on June 4, 1935 in Krakow, Poland, to Amaja Nabel and Alojzy Singer. She was 4 years old when World War II broke out. When her parents realized that escape was impossible; they sent her to away with a cousin’s nursemaid. Soon after she left, her mother was sent to a concentration camp and her father was sent to the Krakow Ghetto.

With false papers, she went to live with a cousin who brutally abused her. When her cousin was taken by the Germans, Janet was left alone on the sidewalk until a Polish woman, unaware of Janet's Jewish identity, brought her to a family farm.

At the end of the war the Polish family took Janet to the Jewish orphanage, where she became one of "Lena's Children" until she was miraculously reunited with her father. Unfortunately, her mother never returned.

On March 25, 1947 Janet and her father came to America. With her father's love and guidance, she began a new life and learned not be hateful.

Janet earned her Masters of Social Work at Boston University. As a clinical social worker, she has counseled a wide variety of patients, from juvenile offenders convicted of hate crimes to geriatric populations. She currently provides psychotherapy and behavioral management services to patients at nursing homes.

In addition to her public speaking engagements, she is writing a memoir and making a documentary film chronicling her experiences as a child survivor of the Holocaust.

Janet has three children and five grandchildren. She lives in a town outside of Boston,Massachusetts.


Additional Resources

Learn more about Janet Applefield. Read Janet's biography to learn more about her story of survival or listen to her story online. Be sure to visit her personal website which has a collection of photographs that chronicle her life before, during, and after the war. In April 2013, the Boston Globe featured new discoveries about Janet's experience in war-time Europe.

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