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Close-up portrait of a young Polish Jewish toddler taken shortly before the start of World War II.

Photograph | Not Digitized | Photograph Number: 21339

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    Close-up portrait of a young Polish Jewish toddler taken shortly before the start of World War II.

    Pictured is Stefan Joachim Natan Rozenberg.
    August 1939
    Wisniowa Gora, [Krakow] Poland
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Nathan Steven Montrose

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Nathan Steven Montrose
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2005.167.1

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Steven Montrose (born Stefan Joachim Natan "Natek" Rozenberg), the only child of Marcel Rozenberg and Stefania Fajner Rozenberg, was born on May 5, 1938 in Lodz, Poland. Stefania died just nine months after his birth on February 27, 1939 as a result of a lung disease. Bernard Fayner, Stefania's brother, his wife Yetta, and daughter Helenka, moved in with the Rozenbergs to help raise Natek. Natek believed that his aunt Yetta was his mother and called her "mama" as soon as he could speak. The families were very wealthy, and owned several textile factories and pieces of real estate in and around Lodz. One evening, after the resettlement of Jews to the Lodz ghetto had already begun, a German officer visited Marcel. Marcel bribed him with diamonds to allow the family to remain in their home. The family was eventually forced into the ghetto, and Marcel again bribed officials to obtain a small apartment for the five of them. The family entered the ghetto in March 1940, and the ghetto was sealed on May 1, 1940. Natek spent his days playing in the street with a few boys his age while Marcel continued to operate his textile factory. Marcel made arrangements for the family to hide in his factory's attic. They quickly packed and left the ghetto before the evening curfew. Because the factory was still in operation, they had to be quiet during the day and could only be active at night. Marcel brought the others food when he returned from working though it remained scarce. The family stayed in the attic for several months, until a factory worker discovered them. In 1944, the family moved to a small hospital where Aunt Hanya Fayner, worked as an administrator. Their stay at the hospital was short, and the family began to separate. Marcel and Natek moved from place to place often sleeping in bombed out buildings. Unfortunately, one evening, the Gestapo found them and sent to Marysin, the Lodz ghetto train station.

    They met Aunt Yetta and uncles Dudek and Bernard at the train station, and they, along with hundreds of others, were loaded into cattle cars. Marcel and Natek were separated after they were removed from the train. Yetta chose to remain with Natek and continued on with him to Ravensbrueck. Yetta's 14 year old daughter Helenka was separated and sent elsewhere with a group of teenagers. In Ravensbrueck, Natek was allowed to remain with Yetta because it was believed she was his mother. In the camp, Natek fought to be allowed to return the empty soup pots back to the kitchen after meals so that he could beg for more food. In order to survive, Natek began stealing from other prisoners while they slept. Natek and Yetta were included in a group that was transferred to Koenigswusterhausen, a sub-camp of Sachsenhausen where they reunited with Marcel and Bernard through a barbed wire fence. They met daily at the fence, and Marcel brought food to his son. Then, Natek was separated from the rest of his family and sent with a group of prisoners to Sachsenhausen though he was less than seven years old. Natek went into hiding and spent his days hiding under the barracks and only came out at night to scavenge for food. On April 22, 1945 they were liberated by the Russians. After Natek's uncles Bernard and Dudek were liberated, they came to Sachsenhausen in a jeep driven by a Russian soldier with the hopes of finding their nephew. They discovered him looking skeletal and lying in a heap of dead bodies. They brought him back to Koenigswusterhausen, where he also reunited with Yetta. Soon after, she revealed to him that she was not his mother but maintained the deception so that they could stay together and increase the chances of his survival. Bernard convinced a Russian officer to give the family a wagon, horses, and some food, and they began to make their way back to Lodz. They arrived at their family home to find it occupied by a Polish family who refused to let them in. Instead, the family went to the textile factory and waited there for the next couple of weeks for other family members to return. Marcel had been sent on a death march and the family assumed he had died. However, a month later, when Natek was playing in the street, his father returned. Marcel recovered some valuables he had hidden on one of the family's farms before the war and used these items to bribe officials to help them leave Poland. With the assistance of two Russian soldiers, they were taken to a displaced persons' camp in Berlin and after a brief stay moved to an apartment in Hanover. Marcel wanted to go to either the United States or England, whoever would take them first. He changed his son's name to Steven and their last name to "Montrose" with the hopes that having a non-Jewish sounding name would expedite their emigration to the United States. In 1947 he sent Natek to live with his brother, Joseph Mountrose, a highly respected heart specialist in London and his wife so that he could get a "proper British education" and learn some discipline. Life with the Mountrose family was not easy. Natek still lived in constant fear that he would be denied food as a form of punishment; he was unhappy in school and still suffered emotional and physical problems as a result of his camp experiences. Meanwhile, in 1948 Marcel married a German concentration camp survivor. In 1948 they received visas to the United States. Natek received his visa a few years later, and at age 14 sailed alone to New York City to join his father and stepmother.
    Record last modified:
    2006-11-24 00:00:00
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