By Megan Fischer – Rocky Mountain Collegian
Photos: John Eisele – CSU Photography
A string of numbers engraved on the arms of Holocaust survivors serves as a reminder of an event in history that killed millions. For all, they are tattoos of experiences they never asked for.
With many sitting on the floor in a filled ballroom in the Lory Student Center at Colorado State University, Holocaust survivor Albert Rosa, 91, shared his journey from his home in Greece to the United States years after the war ended. He was the only survivor from his family.
The event was organized by Students for Holocaust Awareness at CSU, and was co-sponsored by ASCSU, the Diversity Grant and three Jewish organizations on campus – Hillel, Chabad and the Jewish fraternity AEPi.
“When (the Nazis) took me in, I was 15 years old,” Rosa said. “I lost my education, but I got an education in survival.”
Rosa watched many of his siblings die while he was sent to various camps during the Holocaust.
“When my brother died, I promised him I would survive and avenge his death,” Rosa said.
Rosa recalled everything he went through while he was in the camps, both in Greece and after he was loaded into a train destined for Poland.
“It’s a miracle how I survived,” Rosa said. “I saw unbelievable things with my eyes.”
To escape, Rosa said he and a few other prisoners ran into the woods on a snowy evening. As they escaped, they heard dogs barking. If they stopped, they knew they would have been killed.
“I said, ‘Don’t run straight. Run zig-zag so they don’t get you,’” Rosa said.
Rosa recalled that those who escaped were worried the Germans were going to follow the footprints in the snow. His suggestion was to walk backwards. They then came upon a farmhouse — they were cold, and they were starving.
“We didn’t have the proper clothes,” Rosa said. “We dived into the manure to get warm.”
Their next goal was to find the American soldiers.
“Finally, we got the strength to go find the American army,” Rosa said. “It took us all day, but we found them.”
Rosa fought for Allied forces for the remainder of the war.
“I achieved several medals for fighting,” Rosa said. “I was fighting side-by-side with American soldiers for six months. I was not afraid to die.”
Rosa decided he wanted to come to the United States at the end of the war, but he had to apply for immigration status first. Eventually, he was able to come to the U.S. with his wife, who was from Austria. The two arrived in Denver, Colorado, in 1949. She died 9 years ago.
“Never give up,” Rosa said. “If you have to die, die like a man, die fighting for your life.”
VIDEO: Evening with an Auschwitz Survivor – Mr. Albert Rosa”
By Lory Student Center Events