Holocaust survivor shares story

Published 4:00 am Friday, November 6, 2015

Holocaust survivor Ann Rosenheck shared her experiences to a full house at Claudia Crosby Theater on Thursday.

Rosenheck is a speaker with the Holocaust Memorial and continues to work with the Foundation for Holocaust Education to bring education and awareness to communities across the country about the atrocities suffered by individuals who were sent to concentrate camps during World War II.

“It is becoming increasingly rare to see and hear from a Holocaust survivor who was old enough at the time of the event to have concrete memories,” said Chris Shaffer, dean of library services. “We are proud to be able to give members of the public and the university community another opportunity to hear Ann Rosenheck’s powerful story.”

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Roshenheck said hers was among the first families to be taken by the Nazis during the Holocaust. She was 13 years old at the time.

“My dad had a friend that came in during the night and told my dad that he was on the list,” Rosenheck said. “The friend said that my father would be deported and taken away, meaning myself and my family.”

Her home was invaded the next morning, and the family was sent away on a train. There were two buckets on the train: one bucket was for water, which quickly disappeared, and the other was for human waste, which overflowed almost immediately, she recalled.

They were on that train for four days before arriving at the Birkenau camp.

As soon as they arrived, women and men were separated. Rosenheck said that her parents told her to say that she was 17 years old, not 13. “I would have never made it if I didn’t lie,” Rosenheck said.

Her parents, however, were brought immediately to the crematoria.

At first she didn’t believe that her parents were dead. She believed she would be reunited with them; however, that belief dwindled as soon as she realized that the girl lying next to her on the bed that night was dead.

After everyone was separated, Rosenheck said the residents in the camp were lined up and asked to strip off all of their clothes. Because everyone was hesitant, the Nazis shot a few of them and beat several others, encouraging the rest to shed their clothes. “From there we walked nude toward a man who shaved our heads,” Rosenheck said.

Each woman was given a long gray dress to wear, but her dress was far too long, causing her to trip every few steps.

Rosenheck said there was not a lot of food for the camp, at least not for the Jews.

“The hunger was tremendous,” she said.

Finally, in April 1945 Rosenheck was liberated and she arrived in the United States in 1948.

She reunited with her childhood sweetheart, Ike, and they married in New York.

Rosenheck said that while she maintains a sense of hope and forgiveness after her experiences, her story should shed a light onto the evil that lurks in the world. She said that there were many people she came in contact with that were good people, but they did not do what that should have done, which would have made a difference.

She said that while there will always be evil, the good should not hesitate to act.