Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eric Rosenow - August 5, 1982

Moving to the United States

I'd like to start with a very important fact: we living now in nineteen hundred eighty-two and we are talking--this is the time where we're talking about bombarding Lebanon. Well, let me tell you something, what Israelis doing over there, I think they, they want to finish up the PLO once and for all. The world is crying out, "Stop!" to Israel, "Stop!" to Israel. I remember when I, when I was in Shanghai, that American planes came over our ghetto and bombed this ghetto where the Japanese people put the ammunition. All the ammunition in that sector where the--you understand now why I bring out this, this fact now?

It's very important.

Uh, the American people know that this was a ghetto and American people know that there was an, an ammunition camp right in the middle. The Japanese did exactly the same thing that time that the PLO are doing: putting the ammunition among the civilian. This I just wanted to bring up. And in uh, '45 we were liberated and broke all the wires where we were kept together. And um, of course, that time in '45 when the war was out, we didn't know from gas chambers. We were completely isolated in the uh, from the outside world. Even we had freedom in our ghetto, but we still didn't know what was going on on the outside. We couldn't listen to radio, this was uh, there was a penalty--a death penalty. Uh, still the war was out. We didn't know where to go, we had uh, of course we had a Jewish uh, committee there, we had the HIAS there, we had the Joint Distribution there uh, we had a choice, in '46: either go back to Germany, where we came from; go to Palestine--at that time we didn't have Israel--still it was Palestine, not our state; or go to America. But America you needed an affidavit...


...and I didn't have any affidavit. I didn't have anybody here so uh, the Joint came up with the idea that the German quota is still the biggest quota to immigrate to America so regardless if you're Jew or German, we were falling under the German quota. Since this is a big quota what was unused. So the HIAS, in cooperation with the uh, with the Joint, got together and sponsored so many German Jews in Shanghai could come under collective, collective affidavits. I was one of the lucky ones who uh, who uh, immigrated, that time, to, to America.

How did it happen that you became one of the lucky ones? How was the decision made?

Well uh, as I mentioned before, the German quota is the--was unused during the war. You know you have so many Germans, regardless of religion, who could immigrate every year to America. This was interrupted during the war, so nobody could immigrate to America, so this was a big quota where the uh, German people could immigrate to America. And the Joint and the HIAS, these two organizations, got the quota and I was fine under this quota--the German quota. They have a Polish quota, they have an Austrian uh, quota, they have a Chinese quota, but it's all very small. German quota was a very big quota. Every year, you know, since 1800 they could immigrate to uh, to America. So we arrived in uh, '48 in San Francisco. Again, there was the Joint who greeted us, who supported us. Now the Joint tells, tells us where to go. They don't want us to stay in California. They don't want us to go to New York because they had too many people to support already, the HIAS, the Joint. So we had a choice, of Saint Louis, Pittsburgh and a city I'd never heard in my entire life was Detroit.


I heard in Germany: Chicago, New York, Saint Louis, Pittsburg. And uh, when my mother was shown um, they--my parents died here, my 2 other brothers too--when my mother was shown--heard uh, going to Saint Louis she said, "Zu heiss. Too hot, too hot." And when she heard the name Pittsburgh, she said, "Too much smoke, too much smoke." Detroit, we never heard of...

So take a chance?

And take a chance. All right we took a chance uh, like Columbus took a chance...


...to go to America so we took a chance to uh, to come to Detroit. Like anybody else, I had a big struggle. I worked in a factory here for 3 years and...

What, what kind of factory?

Dodge Chrysler in Hamtramck for three-and-a-half years. Uh, I uh, I start teaching and I also...


Yes, music. I also played the night clubs Friday, Saturday, so there was a time I was holding on uh, 3 jobs at a same time and weekends it was pretty rough on me, you know.

My husband is a musician, I can relate. [laughs]

What does he play?

He plays uh, the bass--electric bass...

Oh yeah?

...and keyboards and sax and, he sings uh, he does ???

Well, maybe I can use him. Does he have his own group?

He is in a group and they're going to make it to Mantra. They made the te...the ten semi...semi-finalists so will be opening up for Peaches and Herb.

Oh, beautiful, beautiful.

Yeah, they have a producer in California who produces for Noel Pointer who wants a demo--they've got a demo...

So we have something in common?

Definitely, definitely...

Oh, I see.

...he's holding down 3 jobs, too...

Yeah, so...

...so I know, believe me, I know.

Yeah, yes. So this is uh, uh, actually uh, my whole life story in ten minutes.

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