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Oral history interview with Jeshaye Rosenberg

Oral History | Accession Number: 2011.177.19 | RG Number: RG-50.677.0019

Jeshaye Rosenberg, born May 21, 1928 in Debrecen, Hungary, discusses being raised in an Orthodox Ashkenazi family, which included his grandfather, grandfather’s sister, parents, two brothers, aunt, uncle, and cousins; the family being able to stay together throughout deportations; the numerous rabbis in his family, including his grandfather who was the first Orthodox rabbi of Debrecen; enduring antisemitic assaults as a child; the anti-Jewish decrees; ghettoization in March 1944 and being placed with his family in the Orthodox section in a crowded apartment; enduring forced labor at age 15, cleaning-up after railroad bombings; being deported with his family in sweltering temperatures, crammed into train wagons; how many Jews from Debrecen were taken to Auschwitz, but his family was taken to Strasshof; disembarking and collapsing from dehydration after an 11-day journey without water; his coping tools to bolster his mother’s spirit; he’s thoughts that the intelligentsia seemed to die faster because many were secular and did not believe they would survive; how it was hope that kept Jeshaye going; his brothers’ forced labor in foresting (weekly allowance of one slice of bread); his mother making soup from edible mushrooms Jeshaye had found in the forest; his grandfather witnessing his sister die in a train transfer to Theresienstadt; seeing skeletal refugees arriving in Theresienstadt from other camps; many people dying and the bodies being thrown on top of trucks; the general belief that they would all be killed; surviving on grass; towards end of war, his grandfather holding a rare celebration of Seder in Theresienstadt (some matzo was obtained); talking his way into becoming a shoe repairman even though he did not have the skills needed; the 30 min walk to the town's shoe shop; the gentile ladies taking pity on him and giving him a little food, which he brought back to his family; being recruited later as a barber; his envy in seeing Red Cross rescuing Danish Jewish people two weeks before war ended; liberation; an organization distributing Sefer Torahs to rabbis; the rarity of his entire family having been able to stay intact, in spite of deportations, enslavement, and depravity (some of his extended family did die in other concentration camps); many people dying after liberation from typhus and injuries; returning to Debrecen; immigrating to the United States in 1946; his education, employment, and marriage; rebuilding Jewish communities in Somerville and Montecristo, NJ; his pride in having 25 great-grandchildren; and the importance of remembering the Holocaust. (The oral testimony closes with family photographs, including his aunt, who was killed at Auschwitz. He also shares photographs from his wife’s family, some of which, did not survive.)

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Rosenberg, Mr. Jeshaye
Lustiger Thaler, Dr. Henri
interview:  2015 April 19
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Credit Line
This testimony was recorded through a joint project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Amud Aish Memorial Museum Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center.
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:22:04
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