Franci Rabinek Epstein was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1920 and educated at the Ecole Francaise, Lycee de Prague, and the Deutsches Staatsrealgymnasium before dropping out to apprentice in her mother's haute couture Salon. At 18, Franci became the owner of the Salon, though the family were eventually forced to 'aryanize' their Jewish business. A newlywed when she arrived at Terezin, she regarded the Nazi concentration camps as her university. After liberation by the British in April 1945, Franci would finally return to Prague, the only immediate member of her family to have survived. She married Kurt Epstein in 1946 and then, after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, she emigrated to New York City and established a new fashion salon on the Upper West Side. She lectured at universities on her experience during the war before dying of a brain aneurysm in 1989. Her daughter, journalist Helen Epstein, has written the afterword for Franci's War.
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