Albert Rosa at age 87, is one of the last Holocaust survivors alive today and for the Holocaust remembrance day, April 19th, he spoke about just some of the experiences he had while in the concentration camps.
The gathering was held at Congregation Beth Shalom of Santa Clarita where about 100 people of Jewish faith sat and listened to stories about what happened to their people in the 1940’s.
Rosa was taken from his home in Greece in April of 1941 along with 56,000 other Jewish Greeks. He told the gathering of the yellow stars that the Nazi soldiers would make them wear, declaring to everyone who saw that he and his family were Jews.
After relocating to the “ghettos, Rosa and his family were loaded up on military trucks and traveled ten days and nights to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Rosa showed the audience photographs and described the living conditions in the trucks; there was no room for anyone, no one could use the bathroom, and if someone died they stayed in the truck with the living. Rosa was in the same truck as one of his neighbors who did not make it and he would lay on his dead body the rest of the trip.
When Jews got to the concentration camps they were not reunited with family. Everyone was separated by sex and sent off to be assigned a number including Rosa who was prisoner 110362. By luck Rosa was sent to the barracks with his two brothers Daniel and David but never saw his parents again.
Rosa only saw his sister by trading uniforms with someone in their barracks. He related a story, of when he saw his sister for the last time and it was heart wrenching to say the least.
Rosa was talking to his sister through the fence wondering if she had seen his sister’s babies and husband when a soldier saw the pair and started yelling. The guard then beat Rosa’s sister to death. Rosa screamed the only thing he knew in German at the Nazi, “Work faster you God damn Jew.”
Rosa and his brother Daniel were assigned to dig a pipe hole where Albert took some potatoes from an open kitchen. When a guard saw what Rosa was doing he then started to shoot. By pure luck the gun jammed and that is when the guard started to beat Rosa. His brother Daniel saw what was happening and in Rosa’s words, “came like a wild animal,” and choked the guard to death. More guards arrived and took Rosa’s older brother away and later that night when all the Jews were forced to watch the hanging of their own people, Albert saw his older brother Daniel being hung.
It was at that moment he knew what he had to do for his family, “I will survive, and I will avenge you.” This is exactly what Rosa did.
When Rosa escaped with seven other prisoners, two were killed while trying to escape. They ended up at a German farmhouse. American soldiers arrived and put Rosa in a uniform and got to work on the one thing he craved desperately, to avenge his family.
“Every time I would kill a Nazi or throw a bomb I would always say this is for you Daniel, this is for you sister,” said Albert as he described his time-serving in the United States Army.
For Rosa’s heroism and dedication he was awarded a purple heart. After the war ended Rosa still set out to avenge his family and spent six months hunting down Nazis.
In the Spring of 1946 Rosa joined the underground Jewish resistance group, Irgun, where he met his wife Betty Rosensweig. They had two kids, a daughter Regina in 1949, a son Andrew in 1953, and a second daughter Yvette in 1964. Betty passed away in 1997.
Though the stories are old and happened in a time of sorrow, Albert Rosa is still energetic and has a great sense of humor. The detail and passion he put in to telling these stories brings you back in time better than any book can. April 19th is a day to celebrate those who survived and mourn the loss of the many that did not.