Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing Holocaust survivor Albert Rosa speak to a crowd of people in Folsom, CA. [Yes, the town of Folsom, about which Johnny Cash sang, in his famous song Folsom Prison Blues]
In the past, I have blogged about Albert Rosa at Dachau here. In his speech at Folsom, he briefly mentioned Kaufering and Dachau, but didn’t elaborate on what he did there.
You can read about what Albert Rosa essentially said in his speech on this website:
Eventually, he was transported from Greece to Poland in a cattle truck. They were cramped in that space for 10 days and nights with no food, water or facilities. People were suffocating and starving to death. The air was hot and filled with the smell of decomposing bodies.
“The children were crying, ‘Mommy I’m hungry, I’m thirsty,’” said Rosa. “Me, I was an athlete, I used to compete in other sports, I could take the punishment.”
When they arrived at the “death camps” they had been totally dehumanized. Those who were too old or too young for slave labor were sent to the gas chambers. Rosa had never seen a crematory before that, but the horrible smoke that filled the air was impossible to ignore.
In the concentration camp, the men and women were divided. Shortly after their arrival, Rosa traded uniforms with another prisoner to see his older sister Luna. His sister, who had once been beautiful and wealthy, was now malnourished and bald, which broke Rosa’s heart.
For just a moment Rosa forgot he was in a concentration camp; he called out to his sister and a female guard noticed. He watched as they killed his sister and then took her away in small wagon “like trash.”
On the day of Albert Rosa’s speech, I arrived early and was escorted down to the 2nd row, where I was sitting only a few feet away from Rosa, who did not stand on a stage while he talked.
I was treated very well by everyone, with whom I came in contact there; I think that I was mistaken for a Jew. I had purchased a ticket online and printed it out, but the man at the door didn’t take my ticket; he just waved me on through the door, which was being manned by a guy with a beard, dressed entirely in black, including a large black hat.
Fortunately, before going to hear the speech, I had read Rosa’s story on the Internet at http://www.jewishjournal.com/survivor/article/survivor_albert_rosa_20120315
Rosa’s speech, in Folsom, covered everything that is included in the link above, and nothing more. I had brought a notepad with me and was prepared to take notes, but this was impossible because he talked a-mile-a-minute and there was not enough time for me to take even very short notes. Besides that, he spoke with a heavy Greek accent which I could not understand. I could only catch a few words here and there.
As everyone knows, Albert Rosa is famous for the fact that he did not mention the Holocaust, nor his imprisonment, for over 50 years. This has caused many people to think that he was never in a concentration camp. Rosa explained all that in his speech. He said that he had had “electric shock treatment” late in life and after that, he remembered everything and he began to talk. [Electric shock treatment used to be used as a cure for mental illness, so I don’t think that he should have mentioned this.]
Strangely, Albert Rosa does not have an entry on Wikipedia.
For his Folsom speech, Rosa had brought along an 8 by 10 photo album, filled with faded and yellowed photographs, which he showed on a huge screen on the stage behind him.
Before he began his talk, there was a huge photo of prisoners at Buchenwald put up on the screen. It was a faded and yellowed copy of the photo below.
Famous photo taken at Buchenwald allegedly shows Eli Wiesel (Click on the photo to enlarge)
As this photo was up on the screen, no one in the audience said a word. I suspect that few people in the audience knew that this was a photo of Buchenwald, not Auschwitz, where Rosa was allegedly a prisoner. Rosa used this photo to show what the beds were like in Auschwitz.
During his talk, Rosa said that the prisoners at Auschwitz slept on beds like the beds shown in the photo. He should have tried to locate a photo of the bunks at Auschwitz, which were nothing like these bunk beds.
Every Holocaust survivor’s story must include some version of the claim that the survivor saw an SS man bash a baby’s head against the side of a train. Rosa claimed to have seen this on the very day that he arrived at Auschwitz.
He claimed that he was on a train, bound for Auschwitz, for 10 days and 10 nights, without food or water. On the train, he was dressed only in his shorts [underwear] and he had no shoes. He said that he rested on a dead body on the train.
Recently, there has been a story in the news about two young Jewish boys who went out into the ocean, and their boat capsized. The search for the boys has been called off because allegedly, a young healthy Jewish boy cannot survive more than four days without water. The search should continue because Albert Rosa has proved that a Jew can go without food or water for TEN days.
During his talk, Rosa mentioned a friend who was hanged at Auschwitz and his body was left hanging for days. As he said this, a photo that was taken at Buchenwald, was shown. Rosa claimed that this was a photo of his friend. I wonder how many people in the audience noticed that there were American soldiers in the backgrounds of the photo, so this could not have been taken at Auschwitz. [American soldiers did not liberate Auschwitz.]
Throughout his talk, the photos changed. Strangely, all the photos were taken at Bergen-Belsen, including the photo of the Auschwitz commandant, who was sent to Bergen-Belsen when Auschwitz closed.
Josef Kramer, Auschwtiz commandant
Many photos of Bergen-Belsen were shown during his speech, but were purported to have been taken at Auschwitz.
Rosa made many mistakes in his story, as he talked about Auschwitz. For example, he said that he talked to his older sister, Luna, through a CHAIN LINK FENCE. At this point, he should have put up an old photo of a chain link fence at Auschwitz. I have been to Auschwitz 3 times, and all the chin link fences are now gone.
Rosa claimed that he had seen his sister killed by an SS man, who then threw her naked body onto a pile of bodies. I find it hard to believe this story. He showed an old photo of his sister, and kept saying how beautiful she was. He seemed to be saying that this was a more heinous crime because she was so beautiful.
Rosa also told about taking an SS ring from the dead body of an SS man, whom he had killed by using his boxing skills. He had this ring changed into a ring with a Jewish emblem and he used it later to hit an SS man, scarring his face with a Jewish emblem. The audience loved this story.
During his speech, Rosa brought out his 5 medals, which he had earned fighting with the American Army after he escaped from a concentration camp. He also mentioned that he had fought with the Irgun. I was surprised that he told this.
I don’t know how old Albert Rosa is, but he is in very good shape for a man who allegedly survived the Holocaust. His daughter was there, helping him with his photos. She is very beautiful and seems to be in very good health.
Most of the people in the audience were young people; many of the girls and young women were wearing shorts, which I don’t think was appropriate for a speech about the Holocaust. There were not enough seats in the auditorium and three rows of young people had to sit on the floor in front of the stage.
In closing, I have to say that “a good time was had by all.”