Rose's Story

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

Monday, March 07, 2005


Debbi Portnoy: Mrs. Skier, tell me what happened at that point:

Rose Silberberg-Skier: Well, just prior to that, about two months before[November 1944?] , something else happened. We were working in the Convent, and suddenly, the gate opened, the nun let a man in who happened to be an SS man. And he was asking for us by name. And she called my aunt, and said, “This is Maria Mazur.” That’s who he was asking for.

He said, “Get dressed, take your stuff. You’re going to the Gestapo headquarters, because you are Jews.” Like that.

So my aunt was shocked. “What is going on here? Everything is in order! Why?”

“Just get dressed.” And that’s it.

Now just prior to this SS man coming in that morning, she said to me, “Go into the cellar, and bring me back the pictures.”

I had said, “Leave them there!”


So I went down, and brought the pictures. So I had the pictures, and here, the SS man walks in and says, “Come to Gestapo headquarters.”

I had the pictures. So my aunt took the pictures, and the SS man didn’t realize it, because they were wrapped, and she threw them under the bed. She said, “Oh God, I hope they don’t clean tonight under the bed.” But she took her stuff, we took the suitcase that we had. We never opened that suitcase, to tell you the truth. It was just sitting there for months.

And on the way, she said to me, “I have to make believe that I’m tying my shoe.” Because he came with a bicycle. Imagine that! He didn’t come with a car. He was on the bicycle, and he put the suitcase on top, and we were just one at each side.

So my aunt said, “My shoe is falling off! I have to do something.”

So he said, “Do it.” And he continued.

But what she was really doing was…in the lining of the coat she had a $100 bill. American money. I can’t even tell you what that meant. Even if you were the Pope, if you had American foreign currency, you were dead. You weren’t allowed to have it since 1939. Now it’s 1944. And secondly, for sure, the only people who would have it are Jews. The peasants didn’t have $100 bills. So she knew that if she doesn’t get rid of this, on the way, before she’s questioned, and before she’s searched, forget it. So she opened the lining, and then she said she had to tie her shoe, and she squashed it and she threw that money into the weeds.

DP: How did she get the $100 bill?

RS: Oh this she had from some time ago, from the family. They used to have money. They didn’t give everything to the Germans. They had it for rainy days. They used to distribute it. I case we had to bribe somebody. So hers was in the lining.

Now, when we got there, this was the story. They brought us to a room to interrogate us. There were 3 of them. 3 SS men. Gestapo men, basically, because they were in civilian clothes. We were sitting next to each other, my aunt and I, and one SS man was sitting with us. Two were just sitting, on the opposite side. And each one was questioning us. At all times there was one from this side and one from that side. And they started with my Aunt:

“You are a JEW. You are a Jew!”

“No, NO! I’m NOT a Jew!”

“But your father was a Jew! Your mother, your grandmother…You’re a half-Jew a quarter-Jew…” They continued on and on. This was going on for hours. Yelling and screaming. Finally, they took me out. One guy took me out.

“You come with me.” Oh, boy, was I scared. And he put me into the lobby, against the frame of a door. And he took out a small revolver and he put it against my temple.

“If you tell me that you are Jewish, I will let you go. If you tell me that you are Catholic, I will shoot you.”

I cannot tell you how frightened I was. I was frightened before he took out the revolver. I was scared to death. But when he did this, I fell asleep. Evidently this is my nature. I fell asleep! I stood there sleeping! And he started to shake me.

“You wake up! I’m talking to you, hear?” But he put away the gun. “I’m talking to you!”

I said, “I’m not Jewish, I’m not Jewish!” So he saw, maybe I’m telling the truth for one reason, because he said he’ll shoot me if I say I’m NOT Jewish.

So he said, “OK. Then let me hear your prayers.”

I knew all the prayers. Every one of them. Paternoster, Ave Maria, all of them. Then he said, “Did you go to Church?”


“With whom?”

“With my mother.” I remembered my maid, and I visualized it. “With my mother.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“We went Sunday morning to church, and we sat down. And then other people came, and they sat down. Then the priest came on a podium, and he started to chant, and he had his hands out like this (spreads arms), and he said, ‘Dominus Vobiscum.’ And we said, ‘Et cum spiritutum’…He said, ‘Oremus.’”

He said, “OK, get out! Let’s go back!”

We went back to my aunt, and he started all over again. But then he stopped suddenly, he said, “Let’s search your stuff.” They opened that suitcase, and one was looking at the lining, and one was looking at the front. And they were mainly looking at the lining, to see if something was there hidden.

Now what I didn’t remember, was that I had a winter coat, and it was like velveteen? And I had had a Jewish star attached to it. Evidently, when I left the ghetto, childlike, I ripped that star off, but, first of all, you could see the outline of that star. Secondly, six points were there, yellow threads. But I didn’t know that I had it. This was the last item on the bottom of the suitcase.

The funny thing was, that there were two guys on one side and one guy on the other. The one who was on the other side was the one who used to look at the front of the coats. He suddenly got up, and he must have gone to the bathroom, because he was only gone 5 minutes. Just then, these two guys took out the velveteen coat, and looking only at the lining, touching touching touching the lining. And I am sitting there and I am seeing those six points of thread. But this guy was in the toilet, evidently.

Oh my God, I thought. Now all they have to do is turn it around, or this guy is going to come…But instead, they took the coat, and with the lining on the outside, he folded it, neatly, and put it against the chair. And just then, the other guy comes back and sits down again! But it was the end of the search.

It was miraculous. I tell you, miraculous!

Now you’re talking about a whole day. They said, “OK, let’s go.” So we got up, and they took us all the way to the cellar. With big keys. So my aunt said, “They’re going to shoot us. Don’t say anything and don’t admit anything.”

They opened the door, and they gave my aunt a certificate of liberty, that she’s not Jewish, and they say, “Go! Go to the Convent.”

I cannot tell you—we looked at each other like…Is this POSSIBLE? Go back to the Convent. And we started to walk, and just then, the door of the headquarters opened and this SS man screams:

“Come back again! Come back!”

And my aunt said, “This is a game they play! They’re going to shoot us, but don’t admit anything no matter what! They’re going to shoot us now!”



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