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The TBE Blog

Edward H. Rose
1917–2002

Edward H. Rose had a very remarkable life. His family is so proud of him and would like to share his story.

Although he would become to be known as Edward H. Rose, he was born as Heinz Rosenbaum on February 16, 1917 in Thorn, Poland, which later became part of Germany. His father, Otto Rosenbaum, was a physician in the German army in WWI. Because of this, Heinz was considered a Polish citizen, which caused major problems later when he tried to leave Germany. After WWI, the Rosenbaum family went back to their home, in Schwerin, Mecklenburg, Germany.

In the 1930’s the Nazis began to take over their town and community life. Eddie and his sister, Gerda, and brother, Herbert, could not continue school because they were verbally and physically harassed because they were Jewish. Eddie and Herbert looked for work. Finally Herbert got a job in a tannery, and Eddie was able to get an apprenticeship there, as well.

In 1938, the Nazi’s revoked medical licenses from Jewish doctors. So, the evening of Kristallnacht, when the Nazis rounded up Jews and destroyed their businesses, Eddie’s father was in Berlin studying medical English because he was hoping to immigrate to the US and practice medicine there. Dr. Rosenbaum had a patient (1938) who had taught the future Crown princess and Queen of Holland. Through her connections Eddie was able to get a job in the Royal Leather Works factory in the town of Oistewijk, Holland.

Getting visas to the US still proved difficult, so Eddie’s younger sister, Gerda, and his parents, all went to Oistewijk in 1939. Herbert was already in the US. Life for the family in Holland was manageable until May 1, 1940 when the Germans arrived and began their attack on the Western front. By 1941, there was no work for the Jews. They had to wear yellow stars on their clothing. Even their bikes and radios were taken away.

Finally, the time had come for Eddie to escape. There was a Dutch underground that helped smuggle Jewish people through Belgium to Paris. Papers were prepared, changing the official name from Heinz to Edouard Michiels. In 1942 Eddie started his survival in France by being a farmer’s helper. This was a horrible and exhausting job. There was little pay, extremely long hours, terrible sleeping accommodations and meager food. Eddie was isolated from the world and did not know how he would survive the unsanitary, harsh environment.

In the summer of 1943, the Germans surrounded Amsterdam, and sadly, Eddie’s parents, Otto and Stephanie, were deported to a transit camp, Westerbork in Holland, after which they were sent to Sobibor, a concentration camp in Poland, were they perished.

That Fall of 1943, Gerda made her way to France and through a connection, Eddie and Gerda, found each other. She had worked on a farm until the horrific conditions caused her to flee to Paris. Eddie ended up in Paris shortly after, and they joined the resistance movement. Again, food and housing were sparse, and was further complicated because Gerda was pregnant. They were Gestapo round ups and arrests, but somehow, through their phony papers, good luck with a French policeman, and an ability to escape the Nazis, Eddie and Gerda both survived until the Germans surrendered on August 25, 1944.

Eddie’s ability to speak English and German as well as drive a car, landed him a job working for the American Army. On May 8, 1945 Eddie was in Paris to witness Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day)! Eddie and Gerda spent the following years trying to get visas to come to the US. Gerda was able to get hers first because she belonged under the German quota. She and her son made it to the US in 1947. Eddie fell under the Polish quota which still made getting a visa impossible. Luckily for him, an American officer helped him out, and he received his visa in 1949. On May 11, 1949 Eddie arrived on the shores of New York, and was reunited with his older brother and younger sister as he reached the land of America.