ROSE SCHINDLER

“If there is no hope, there is no future.”

Interview Date:  January 19, 2017 in San Diego

The Background

Rose Schindler, one of the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust, visited our school earlier this year. The experience so moved me and many of my classmates, that it was hard to contain our tears as she told her story of suffering and survival. Below is a brief summary of the horrors she experienced.

Rose grew up to a Jewish family of modest means in a small town in Czechoslovakia, together with her seven siblings.

During the Holocaust

As Nazi dominance took over Europe, Hungarians assumed control her town; they soon implemented and began to harshly enforce anti-semitic laws. For example, Rose was revoked the right to attend school. In the spring of 1944, her family was brought to the town’s central school together with all other Jews living in the town. They were loaded onto a train and deported directly to Auschwitz.

While on the cattle car, she recalls a man asking her age, to which she responded she was fourteen. The man had instructed her that, for if she wanted a chance to survive, she was to from now on, say she was eighteen. Upon arrival, despite her older sisters’ naïve denials, she managed to convince the SS officer of her false age. She finally managed to join a third line along with her two older sisters. That third line was the “work” line. Her mother, two younger sisters and younger brother, stood in a different line; that line led to the gas chambers. She never saw them again. Her father had managed to join the men’s “work” line. A later chance encounter with him at the camp was to be the last time she was to see him alive. She remembers him telling her: “Stay alive so you can tell the world what they did to us.”

While in the camp, Rose had a difficult time passing continued selections because her body was extremely scrawny and weak. While her sisters passed selections, Rose was often selected for the line leading to the gas chambers. Rose had always managed to quickly run back to the third line, joining her sisters.

Rose expressed to our class, “I can’t even describe how bad it was… how could any one think people could do this to other people.”

The Escape

An opportunity to escape Auschwitz came about at her last selection. She described how she ran out of one of the doors, convincing the SS officer that the woman that had just walked through was her mother. She then joined the group being transported to Brunnental, a labor camp.

At Brunnental, she said, “they treated us like human beings.” Rose worked in the ammunition factory and the officers would feed the prisoners well as they needed the energy to work. Finally, on May 6, 1945, the Russians liberated the camp.

Rose was taken to a hostel in England, where she met her husband Max Schindler, also a survivor. They soon were married even though they were only teens at the time. Shortly after the war, she visited her home town and recalled someone telling her, “if you want to live, you should leave, or else I’ll finish the job that Hitler started.” Eventually, Rose moved to San Diego, where she lives today. Although coping with the horrors of her horrible past had been difficult, she now endeavors to share her story so the next generations will never forget.

After the War & Today

Rose was taken to a hostel in England, where she met her husband Max Schindler, also a survivor. They soon were married even though they were only teens at the time. Shortly after the war, she visited her home town and recalled someone telling her, “if you want to live, you should leave, or else I’ll finish the job that Hitler started.”

Eventually, Rose moved to San Diego, where she lives today. Although coping with the horrors of her horrible past had been difficult, she now endeavors to share her story so the next generations will never forget.

Survivor’s Stories

JUTTA COHEN

JUTTA COHEN

“Don’t touch my mother! I am going to tell my daddy when he gets back that you kissed my mother!”

GUSSIE ZAKS

GUSSIE ZAKS

“I appreciate life everyday. This is how I learn now: be active, do something.”

ROSE SCHINDLER

ROSE SCHINDLER

“If we have no hope, we have no future.”

GUNTER COHEN

GUNTER COHEN

“We knew no country would welcome Jews.”

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