Helen Rosenberg

"Zachor, remember. Never forget what we went through."

Name at birth
Chana Rosenwasser
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Brod Nad Irshava, Czechoslovakia
Name of father, occupation
Yoseph Rosenwasser, Farmer
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Leah Abramovitch, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, Abraham, Simcha, Sara, Bela, Chana, and four others
How many in entire extended family?
Large extended family
Who survived the Holocaust?
Just me
My family was farmers.  We had animals and fruit trees.  My father used to make Slivovitz (a strong brandy made from plums).  My father was in the Czech army, had a limp.  I loved my mother very, very dearly.  When I was a young girl, I went to Budapest and learned to become a seamstress.
My mother was taken away from me at the train station and put on a cattle car.  I worked together with my sister in a German munitions factory finding the bullets that wouldn’t fire.  My sister had dysentery and fouled herself while she was working.  She was beaten to death on the spot with a rifle butt by a German Nazi guard.
I was in the ghetto of Mukacevo and in the concentration camps; Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Salzwedel, and was liberated by American soldiers at Buchenwald.  
When I arrived at Auschwitz, they took my clothes from me, they gave me one dress and they cut off my hair.  I was given a tattoo.  One held my arm, the other did the work.  Blood was all over.
I knew we were being liberated because I recognized the American flag from school.  I returned home in the hope of finding my family.  I found our home though was occupied by some local people from the village.  I found no one from my family.
I went to a Displaced Person’s (DP) camp called New Palestina outside of Salzburg, Austria.  
I met my husband, David Isaac Rosenberg in the DP camp; he was an Auschwitz survivor also.  We were married on June 25, 1946.  My son was born exactly one year later, June 25, 1947 in a hospital in Salzburg.
We emigrated to the United Stated in 1949 arriving in Boston.  We crossed the Atlantic on board a converted US Navy signal ship called the USS Flasher.  From there we went to New York briefly because I had friends there.  We finally settled in Chicago because that’s where my husband had family; they had sponsored us to come to the United States.  My daughter Ruchie was born in Chicago in 1949.
I worked as a seamstress in a couple of sweatshops.  My husband worked as a Mashgiach in a slaughterhouse.  He was fired because he was too strict in deciding what a kosher animal was and what was not.  He then swept floors for retail stores on Maxwell Street.  He finally went to work as a Shamas in a funeral parlor.  He did Taharos and sewed the Tachrichim.  He became an administrator there. 
My husband died of cancer at the age 46; I was 38 years old with two children.  I continued to work as a seamstress to feed my family along with my husband’s social security.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
What DP Camp were you after the war?
Yes, in New Palestina outside of Salzburg, Austria
Where did you go after being liberated?
First back home and then to DP camp
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation after the war
When and where were you married?
June 25, 1946 near Salzburg, Austria
David Isaac Rosenberg, Jewish funeral home administrator
Joseph Rosenberg, commercial real-estate and Ruchie Weisberg, mother, Hebrew school teacher
Seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren
What do you think helped you to survive?
I worked, I was young. I wanted to see my family again. I felt I was a Jew and I cannot die like that, I wanted to survive and tell the story. I wanted to live. I’m a very strong-willed person. On Passover in the concentration camp, I did not eat bread until the end of the eight day holiday.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Zachor, remember. Never forget what we went through.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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