Justus Rosenberg, who helped dozens flee the Nazis, dies at 100 | Culture | Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW

“Justus was one of the last witnesses of the Holocaust. As a member of the French Resistance he was also a hero in the fight against fascism,” Bard school President Leon Botstein wrote in a letter

 in tribute to his former colleague following his loss of life.

Justus Rosenberg had ended his instructing profession as a professor emeritus of languages and literature at Bard School, a liberal arts establishment within the state of New York. He died on October 30, as reported by the New York Occasions on Thursday.

Rosenberg was born in 1921 in present-day Gdansk, Poland, which was on the time the Free Metropolis of Danzig, a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939.

Racial legal guidelines on the time meant that Rosenberg was kicked out of college as a result of he had Jewish mother and father. He was despatched to check in Paris for college and enrolled later on the Sorbonne.

Refugee in Marseille

When the Nazis took over Paris in 1940, Rosenberg fled the town with 1000’s of others and at last landed in Marseille.

“At the time, the American Rescue Committee, which was founded in the United States, sent a gentleman by the name of Varian Fry to Marseille with 3,000 dollars in his pockets,” Rosenberg stated in an archival video printed by the Worldwide Rescue Committee.

Fry had a listing of names of people that have been regarded as notably below risk from the Nazi regime. The plan was to secretly smuggle them out of Nazi territory.

“I was a courier boy,” Rosenberg stated within the video. “I was running errands, except, those were not ordinary errands. These were errands to run with false papers, money, various documents, to try to get to the refugees who were trying to get out of occupied Germany,” he added.


Serving to 1000’s escape

On the time, Rosenberg regarded a lot youthful than his age. He was blonde and Germanic-looking and was not typically stopped by troopers to verify his papers. In his personal phrases, “I looked so innocent and angelic at that particular time.” The professor confessed within the video that he was not likely conscious of the hazard the duty entailed. To him, it was largely about journey and romance.

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The many individuals Rosenberg helped escape included the thinker Hannah Arendt, artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, authors Heinrich Mann, Golo Mann and Franz Werfel. Werfel’s spouse, Alma, was the widow of the composer Gustav Mahler.

Altogether, US journalist Varian Fry’s operation helped 1,500 individuals escape the Nazis.

Nevertheless, the operation got here to a halt in 1941 after being uncovered and expelled by the antisemitic and authoritarian Vichy French authorities, led by Marshal Philippe Petain.

Rosenberg was left to his personal units and managed to flee being despatched to a labor camp in Poland. He joined the French Resistance and fought alongside the People after the Normandy invasion.

Following the top of World Battle II and Germany’s capitulation, Rosenberg served as an officer at a displaced individuals’ camp run by the United Nations.

Varian Fry

Journalist Varian Fry

A reluctant hero

He later enrolled at Sorbonne once more and left for the US in 1946, the place he accomplished his doctorate and taught literature and languages at Swarthmore after which on the Bard School.

In 2020, Rosenberg printed a memoir known as “The Art of Resistance: My Four Years in the French Underground.”

Chatting with the New York Occasions, Rosenberg’s spouse Karin, who met her husband within the Eighties, stated she knew nothing of his heroism for a few years. “Oh, I just didn’t want to brag about it,” Karin Rosenberg remembered him as saying. “I believe he was a hero… But he did not think of himself as a hero. To him, he was just doing what needed to be done,” she stated.

“It was a miracle that Justus fulfilled the well-known birthday greeting of the nation of his birth that calls for ‘100 years’ of life,'” Bard School President Botstein stated in his memorial letter, referring to the Polish birthday music, “Sto Lat,” which means “May you live a hundred years.”

Botstein added, “Justus reached that milestone, against all odds. In Poland, the country of his birth, just under 3 million Jews — nearly 90% of all Polish Jews — were murdered between 1939 and 1945.”

mg/eg (with dpa)