Yisroel Dovid (Julian) Rosner (Part I)

As told to Mrs. Chaya Feigy Grossman

Please tell us where you were born?

I, Yisroel Dovid (Julian) Rosner was born in Duklja, Poland, in the Carpathian Mountains. Duklja was a small city in the valley between two mountains, six kilometers [4 miles] from the Czechoslovakian border. It was nicknamed the “City of the Valley.” There was one main river where people would bathe. On Shabbos the townspeople would bring their beach chairs and relax all afternoon.

We lived at 132 Kaczyniec. We had a lovely house. We did not have running water in the house, but we had a beautiful well in our backyard. We had custom buckets which were created especially for this purpose. There was no electricity; we had attractive lamps hanging on the wall, which were lit with kerosene. Transportation was through hired messengers who were sent to Czechoslovakia to buy and trade the products we needed. The Czechs did the same thing.

There were no trains running throughout town. During the war years, the Germans installed electricity for their own purposes. Yet, they did not have gas lines. Telephones in our town existed only in the post office. We communicated through telegrams.

The Jews ran all the businesses in town: butchers, bakers, groceries, clothing, hardware and just about anything that was needed. The closest hospital was about three or four miles away. My mother had brothers living in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. They were big salesmen and they would visit often. When they came, they would stay to help my grandparents as well.

I recall how my maternal grandmother would make Pesach. I remember her delicious cakes and the delicacies that she made for Yom Tov.

What memories can you share with us about your family?

My father Naftula Rosner originated from a very well-to-do family, while my mother Esther Rosner nee Shpritzer, came from a poor family. My maternal grandfather, Yosef Shpritzer, was a caterer, and my grandmother, Rachel Shpritzer, would buy animals from the market and sell them.

My paternal grandfather owned a clothing factory and his three sons worked for him.

My grandparents were not pleased with this shidduch proposition, that my father would marry a girl from a poor home — Yossel’s daughter; it did not befit their status. They wanted their sons to marry girls who would be able to provide a large dowry. My father worked for seven years, and when he felt that he had accumulated enough money he insisted on marrying my mother.

My grandfather, Moshe Kalman Rosner, did not want to attend the wedding. My grandmother, Golda, passed away before this. However, he had someone who worked for him, and they insisted that he go.

My grandfather remarried a woman by the name of Chava, who was well-off herself and suited his lifestyle. She would go on vacations and return with beautiful gifts for us. She had a very pleasant personality and was very kind to us. We didn’t know until we were much older that she was not our real grandmother.

My parents worked in business together. My mother was a seamstress, providing service to the rich and famous gentiles. They would bring expensive materials and she would sew custom clothing for them. My father was a men’s tailor. The room they used was designed with cutting tables and all the amenities needed for a high-class tailor. Our house also had a kitchen with a dinette, and an elegant bedroom.

We were a family of four children: two boys and two girls. I had one brother Henry (Chaim), and two sisters, Gloria, and Ruth, who was murdered at the young age of five years old, on the same day as my mother and father. We had two maids in our house. The first one did the general work and the second one was in charge of the housework. Each night she would take apart the lamps and wash the glasses which held the kerosene. We had a separate woman who came especially for laundry day, washing, folding and pressing clothing. We had full wardrobes of summer clothing and winter clothing.

to be continued


These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.