Doris Rosen

"Think for yourself, don’t let others who have no knowledge influence you, just think.  "

Name at birth
Doris Weitz
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Berlin till age 7, then Shanghai till 17
Name of father, occupation
Noah Weitz, Tailor
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Rose Dembowski, Dressmaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and Doris
How many in entire extended family?
Who survived the Holocaust?
Parents and I
My grandmother, Zelda Dembowski, lived with us, she took care of me while my mother worked.  Unfortunately, she was very sickly.  Zelda was a very good person; she was the one I wanted to go to.  I remember eating chulent (a hearty stew eaten on the Sabbath) every Saturday night, sitting in the kitchen with my family.

We lived in a poor area; Gypsies lived next door to us.  I think we lived in an area where mostly Polish Jews lived.  
I grew up in Berlin, you could feel the hatred.  I always went to Jewish schools.  My mother would pick me up from school because kids from the Christian school across the street from us would wait to beat us up. 
I was an only child.  Under Hitler, no one had more children.   As soon as he came to power, there was overt aggression against the Jews.  We are the sacrificial lambs of the ages, the scapegoats.  That’s what I’m so afraid of here.  Times seem to be getting really bad and who are they going to blame, they will blame the Jews.  I’ve lived through it, and I don’t want to live through it again.  
I remember in Shanghai, 90% of the children, German and Austrian, were only children.  In 1940, Polish Jews came to Shanghai via Siberia.  The Japanese let us into Shanghai. They thought Roosevelt was Jewish.  They wanted to develop outer Manchuria, they thought Roosevelt would give them the money if they were good to the Jews.  Then they decided to bomb Pearl Harbor and the war started. 
My father left for Shanghai in January 1939, we left in March 1939.  Since my father was stateless, he tried to cross the border to Belgium.  He and the whole group he was with, were arrested as they tried to cross the border.  My father was sent to Dachau.  He had left Poland at the age of 17, he didn't want to serve in the Polish army, he was a religious Jewish man, the food wasn’t kosher.  The only document he had with him when he came to Germany was his birth certificate.  After he was arrested and sent to Dachau, my mother was told that the only way to get him out of Dachau was for him to leave the country which was very difficult to do at that time. 

Shanghai, China was the only place in the world that took in Jews without visas, without anything. My mother was able to buy one ticket to Shanghai so that my father could get out of Dachau.  Later on, my mother bought a ticket and a half for herself and myself; she had to leave her mother behind because she was sick in the hospital with cancer, dying.  Her girlfriend took care of her burial.

In 1938, I was almost seven years old when Kristallnacht took place.  We were lucky because when they came to our house, it was 4 PM, the time that they stopped working, so they didn’t come into the house.  My father and I looked Jewish, and we were hiding on the roof.  My mother did not look Jewish, so she stayed in the apartment with my grandmother.
I remember that there was broken glass everywhere in the streets.  I worry that it could happen again.  
When we came to Shanghai, I was only a small child, it was not painful.  For my parents though, it was very difficult coming to a new country.  When we arrived, I went to a Jewish school.  Sir Lawrence Kadoorie, a prominent Sephardic Jew as well as many other Iraqi Jews, helped us.  When the Communists took over China in 1949, we left for Israel.  It took us two months to get to Israel, the Suez Canal was closed, our ship, a cargo ship, had to go around the Cape of Good Hope.  
In Shanghai, we had libraries, the schooling was very good, we got the best education.  
Living conditions were terrible.  We all lived in one room; the toilet was downstairs.  There was one big pot and, in the morning, it was emptied. 
Toward the end of the war the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) helped us.  I was able to get a secretarial job with the Joint.
When I was 17, we came to Israel.  We lived in a camp at first.  I went to look for a job.  It was suggested that I first learn Hebrew, I said I couldn’t do that, that I have to work.  I got a job as a secretary working for a citrus company.  I loved my job.  
We lived in Israel for 35 years.  I got married at the age of 18.  My parents left for the United States when I was 19.  My father had sisters and a brother who lived in Los Angeles.  They left because they couldn’t make a living, my mother was already very sick at the time.  
I felt lost because I didn’t have any of my own family members with me.  I guess I’ve felt, lost most of my life but I’ve managed to survive and I’m still around.  
I have three children, seven grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren! 
We lived in Tel Aviv and had a good life.  My husband was a good breadwinner, and we raised three wonderful children.  We all now live in Detroit, and they come to visit me all the time.
My children’s names are Nathan, Dalia, and Orit. 
We left for the United States because my husband didn’t like it there anymore.  He had a sister living here, so he came to be with his sister and worked for her.  I had no regrets leaving Israel, I’ve always loved the United States.  
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
My husband had a sister in Michigan
Occupation after the war
Secretarial work
Pesach Rosen, Manufactured gear reducers
Nathan, Dalia, and Orit
seven and eleven Great grandchildren
What do you think helped you to survive?
I’m a strong person, I can take charge, I know how to handle my life. It’s as simple as that. I am opinionated, I will not be influenced just because others may be in the majority. I’m an independent woman. My husband was the nicest and smartest man, he’s been gone now for eight years.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Think for yourself, don’t let others who have no knowledge influence you, just think.

Charles Silow
Interview date:

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