Rose's Story

My mother, Rose Silberberg Skier, tells the miraculous story of how she survived the Holocaust

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I first got the idea for posting my mother's story while participating in Israpundit's Auschwitz Blogburst. My original thought was to exerpt the book, "Hiding to Survive," by Maxine Rosenberg, which contains a chapter about my mother. But I found that the story was a bit too short, and factually wrong in places.

My next thought was to have my mother type the story, and mail it to me. She suggested instead that I write the story myself, based on the interview that she gave Spielberg's Shoah Foundation. I had planned to rewrite it as a narrative, but in watching the tape, I realized that I would never be able to improve on my mother's own words.

The testimony is not a story. It is an interview, conducted by Debbi Portnoy, on September 11, 1997. She asks excellent questions which help to focus the testimony in a logical, sequential manner. It will become clear that in truth, I don't think my mother required much guidance, but it did encourage her to be more complete in areas that would otherwise likely have been skipped over.

The interview is 210 minutes on two video tapes. To facilitate my transcription, I transferred it to my computer. I had thought to edit it in places, but I could not find much that was excess. While I considered skipping the Prologue, which takes place before the war, I realized that this was perhaps the most important piece of the story. It may seem mundane, but the description of life in pre-War Poland, of her family and home, was vital to gaining a true appreciation of the horror that she and the rest of European Jewry had to endure. Without a description of the normality of life before the invasion, this would be reduced to the stereotypical depiction of the Holocaust. Endless scenes of men with beards being herded onto cattle cars; shaved-headed skeletons walking into gas-chambers.

You have to know the people before the War, if you are to appreciate the loss caused by the War.

It is fitting, too, that the day that I officially start this project is the 7th day of Adar. This is the yahrtzeit of my grandfather, Moses Silberberg, a man who died more than twenty years before I was born, and for whom I was named. He was also born on this day, as was Moshe Rabbeinu, for whom he was named.

(In the transcript that follows, DP is Debbi Portnoy and RS is Rose Silberberg-Skier.)



  • At Wednesday, May 05, 2010 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Nancy said…

    Yeah, you must know the people before the war. Otherwise you can never know the impact of the war.
    The Diary of a Young Girl - by Anne Frank is one of my favourite books.


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