By Rose Schrage
My name is Rose Schrage. I am a holocaust survivor. I was born in France in a small village called Montelimar. We had a small house in the country area, close to the river. I am the middle one of three children – my older sister Rachel and younger brother Leon.
Not too far from the house was a Nursery that was operated by nuns, that I attended. One day they had a singing competition, I entered and sang the national anthem for France. I won, and as a prize for winning I received a little red wagon, that was my first ever toy, as before that we had a black chicken that I used to play with in the yard, but eventually we had to eat it for food.
I was about three years old when the Nazis knocked down the door. They were pointing a gun to my head and my mother said to them “you don’t have to hold a gun to her head. She can’t run away, she has not even learned to walk as yet.”
They came back another day and were armed with rifles and I was about to cry and my mother whispered in my ear “if you cry I will give you away again”. She had given me away before to the nuns in order to save me. She hid me under the bed. I was so scared because I didn’t understand what was going on. When I saw them with their long brown boots I used to be scared. My mother was a very brave woman. The Nazi held a gun to her head and said “I am going to kill you.” My mother said “go ahead, I am not afraid of you”. The Nazi was stunned by her answer and left.
I used to have terrible nightmares at night. I dreamt that the Nazis were chasing me and I fell down the stairs. At that point my mother had to give me away to the nuns because Jews were not going to survive, as Hitler didn’t care if you were a baby or an adult. As a child I remember my father would go out in the middle of the night to the the garbage and take peels of fruits and vegetables, and bring them for my mother to cook. We did not have food or money, and were trying to survive.
After I got married I went back to France with my husband, but did not get a chance to visit my old house. I did not know how to get there or even where it was. So I visited my mother’s uncles. They had been part of the French underground movement.
Having to look on my past by writing this piece, I realized how brave and courageous my mother was as she saved our lives many times. I would like to say how much I admire her and look up to her, and have a great amount of respect for her.