Rose Guttman

"Pray to G-d and have hope. It is up to you what to do."

Name at birth
Roselia Polkenfeld
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Name of father, occupation
Yacov Leib, Lumber yard worker
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and six children: three boys, three girls. I was the oldest child
How many in entire extended family?
Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and 72 cousins
Who survived the Holocaust?
Six cousins and me
 I was born on June 20, 1927, in a town in Romania known for its famous yeshiva (a school for Jewish studies). I lived there for seventeen years and have fond memories of walking two miles to my grandfather’s home where our entire family would have the Sabbath meal. We were a very religious family.
When the Germans arrived, I was in another town tending to the care of a sick aunt.  I was sent to Auschwitz and never saw my siblings or my parents to say goodbye. I remember hearing “death to the left and life to the right.”  
I slept and lived with seven women confined on a small bunk. Every morning at 5:00 a.m. we would have to be outside for the count of the prisoners.  One morning my arm was not straight enough and a guard beat my arm so severely that I could not straighten it for a long time. I had one dress and no underwear. Another morning after I washed that dress, it froze, and I was beaten.
At Bergen-Belsen I worked in a factory making light bulbs. If I didn’t make my quota, I was beaten.
After liberation I walked back to my grandfather’s home and was surprised to find three cousins there. This was an important day because for the first time I did not feel alone. 
I went to my home and found the rabbi’s wife living in the larger home in the front.  I felt like I saw G-d.  I told the rabbi’s wife that I wanted to ask the Gentile owners for a picture of my family since none of them had survived.  The rabbi’s wife warned me to bring my male cousin for protection.  The owner of the home had been a friend of my father and told me I could have one picture.  His wife came out of the house and called me a bitch and threatened to kill me if I came into the home.  I never got the picture.
From Romania I left for Israel and then New York where I met my husband at a meeting.  We left for Detroit to live with an aunt.
Irving and I owned several successful delis in Detroit and the suburbs.  We had three children and six grandchildren. I am always on guard for Jew-haters and because of my Holocaust experience; I can see it in their eyes.        
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
Romania, then to Israel
Where did you settle?
First went to Israel, then New York, then Detroit
Occupation after the war
Owned delis (Irving's Delicatessen)
When and where were you married?
Married in New York
Irving, Deli owner
Seymour, real estate; Carol (deceased); Jerry, businessman
What do you think helped you to survive?
I don’t know
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Pray to G-d and have hope. It is up to you what to do.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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