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As It Happened -

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(generated from captions) GULLS CRY





No, I didn't have a scarf.
I thought it was me.

Looks like it could have,
but it wasn't.

I would've been with my mother anyway
so if I see her, then I'll see me.

Where did people get clothes from?

Cos when they came from the camp,
they didn't have clothes like that.

Everybody had a uniform,

a striped uniform.

My mother
always used to cover my eyes.

She was always protecting me.

The same way that years later,
almost until the day she died,

she wouldn't talk about the war.

She said "What you don't remember,
you don't remember."

Everybody was so pleased to be clean
and to have water and soap and...

It'd been such a long time.

There's my mother!

This one in the front...

Oh, my God...

This one, with her back...
There, with the brown hair.

And that's me.

Yeah, that's me.

Come to the side. Come round.

(Child shouts happily)

(Child prattles)

My mum couldn't get over the kindness
that was shown to us.

There were rows and rows and rows
of clothes

and everybody was allowed
to pick a dress.

I remember my mum said to me

"Most of the people are picking
all the bright colours."

She didn't, she picked
a navy-and-white dress.

I picked a really colourful dress.

It was red and blue and white
little checks with a lace collar.

Then we were taken to the museum

and that was very impressive.

I don't think
I'd ever seen a castle in my life.

And they gave me so many dolls
I couldn't believe it.

No walls, no fences.

I said to my mother -
that I remember -

I kept saying to her
"Is this real?

"Is this really happening?"

And she said "Yes".

I remember
I was holding her hand very tight.

I couldn't believe it.



My father was sent to Buchenwald.

And my mother, brother, and I
went on to Ravensbruck.

It was a camp for women and children

but our brother Don was only with us
for a very short time.

When we walked into the barrack,
I started to scream.

I saw all these women,
like skeletons.

You just saw the big eyes, you know,
and the sunken cheeks.

And they wanted to touch my hair
all the time.

But my mother used to turn
my head away and cover my eyes.

And she'd say "Don't open your eyes
till I tell you."

And she did that
nearly the whole time.


Sometimes people threw themselves
against the electric fence.

They couldn't handle it any more
and they died a horrible death.

She wouldn't let me see.

You knew it had happened.
People were talking about it.

But she used to cover my eyes.


I think I've only seen my mother
cry twice in my whole life...

when we got to Ravensbruck
and they took away her wedding ring

and then when we walked out the gate
and got on the white buses

and that Swedish driver
put the coat around me.

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My mother said to me "Irene,
I will never come back to Holland...

"because most of the people
I loved are gone."

And she said "And I don't want to
look back, I want to look forward."

So we went to South Africa.

We were still in Malmo
at the museum

and the lists were coming through
from the Red Cross

of the people who had died
during the war.

My mother looked through
all the names and she said to me

that a lot of my father's cousins

and his mother's sisters and their
children, they were all gone.

And she just said
"They didn't make it."

And then she said

"But your brother's name
is not there, thank goodness.

"We don't have to worry about him.
Don is alive."

But she didn't say anything
about my father.

She said "I just want to be alone
for a little while."

I went to play and that was that.

I always assumed
that he was going to come back.

I was always expecting him
to walk in through the door and...

I used to worry, how will he find us
because he doesn't know South Africa?

I used to have
all these little worries

about how will he know where we are?

I'm not sure how old I was

but it was at least
five or six years afterwards.

I happened to say something
to my brother

about "When my father comes back
we'll do this and that and..."

He looked at me
for a long time and said

"But he's not coming back.
He died years ago."

And I said
"But nobody told me!"

And that was it.


Just try this out...


Your mum
was a very, very beautiful child.

I don't remember many children
as beautiful as Irene.

And the women there, they'd been
taken away from their children.

They'd been taken to a camp.

They saw a child,
they didn't know what to do,

so they were nice to her.

It's nice to hear her voice.

I did all kinds of jobs in the camp.

She would never talk in front of me.

She wouldn't talk in front
of anybody, except my eldest son.

Did you know that there were
gas chambers at Ravensbruck?

The big chimneys
were burning all day long

a little distance from our camp.

I just didn't believe it.

I couldn't concede
of anything as devilish as that.


Then Don got very ill.

And they took Don away.

They took Don
and sent him to the men's camp!

I had some boots of his
and a blanket I wanted to send him.

I think it must have been
Katie Peters arranged for me

to go over to the men's camp.

Don just...

Well, if you've seen
a skeleton walking...

He looked...

like a piece of stone.

I would like to have
said something to comfort him.

I couldn't think
of anything to say. (Voice breaks)

You know, it's a strange thing.

But I used to feel
that Mother was guiding me,

was telling me what to do.

There were quite a number of things
I had to push myself to do.

Things that you
brought yourself to do

that you wouldn't like
to have mentioned?

That I don't think was me.
It wasn't me.

I think that Irene and Don
are marvellous.

I think it's fantastic
that they're...

They're normal human beings!

Don't you, as a doctor, think that?
Oh, absolutely.

I think it's fantastic.


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(Sings in German)

This is
the concentration camp Ahlem...

April 10, 1945.

The Germans had marched off
and left us in the camp.

I was very, very weak.

I couldn't stand on my feet,
I couldn't walk.

Then we heard the noise
on the highway.

And we creeped out and we saw,
from far away, tanks.

But we looked at the tanks
and we didn't see a swastika.

They were Americans!

And I remember
that white American bread.

The first time I saw white bread
in my whole life.

It was white like cotton.

This picture was taken
in front of the so-called clinic,

which the Germans called it

And that 'revier', most of
the people never came out of.

At the far right end, it's me.

I didn't have any reason to go back
to Poland. I stayed in Germany.

I still hoped to find somebody.

So I travelled from camp to camp.

There were many thousands
of people who survived.

They were still coming out of
the barracks and they were outside.

I remember going around there
really looking at the faces.

And I just asked people
if they know a Rosenberg.

I couldn't find any.


But there was a man
who started to collect

lists of people
who survived in Bergen-Belsen.

And he found a piece of paper
with a Rosenberg, building 55.

I went over to that building
and I went on the second floor,

where women laying in the beds,
some of them doing something.

And I opened the door
and there was my sister on a bed.

She was recuperating
from typhoid fever.

She was shaved.

I hardly recognised her.
She looked like a boy.

And from her I found out what
happened to the rest of my family.


When we arrived with the boat
in Malmo,

there were people
with Red Cross armbands

helping us getting off the boat,
helping us get into the bus...

And I met a boy,
a boy who helped us.

He came over to me
and said "I'm Stig."

And I told him "I'm Joe Rosenberg."

And we started to talk in German
and I ask him about his family.

And although

I felt to him closeness - a boy!

He introduced the city
and for me it looked...

like being on Mars.

Whole buildings
and not bombed anything.

The lights in the city and...

I was shocked.

Everything is whole,
everything is peaceful.

We couldn't keep contact
because we had to go to quarantine.

But he invited me
as soon as I get out from quarantine

to come and visit him.


That was the first home

I saw a whole family
gathering together,

and sitting down to a table
for a meal.

Eat normal, talk normal,
dress normal and act normal,

which was a big impression
on a 19-year-old boy.

I just hoped to copy the same way,

to have the same future.

It was almost like
I was left alive for that purpose -

to go on and build a family
and take care of the family

and build a future.



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Rose is with me day and night.

I still look for her
sometimes in bed.

If I'm between conscious
and not conscious,

you know, when you are
between sleep and dream.

Oh, ya...

People told me
"Your wife is repeating the story,

"every five minutes,
the same story."

So I took her to a doctor

and the doctor said

that it's the beginning
of Alzheimer's.

There's not a day I miss to see her
and be there and feed her.

If you ask her my name
she will say "I don't know."

But half a minute later
she can call me Joe, and I'm there.


I met Rose
one month after I arrived in Sweden.

I was living in Molle,

a beautiful resort place
on the ocean.

It was mostly boys
in Molle at that time,

young men who survived the war.

We heard that a transport of girls
are coming to Molle.

I went to the train
to welcome the girls.

One walked off the train.

She looked so innocent
and so cute and beautiful...

that just by looking her,
I fell in love.

And she said "Mr Rosenberg,
I saw you on the boat."

And there I found out that she was
on the same boat to Sweden with me. Mmmmmm-wah!

I love you.

Do you love me too?
And I love you too.


Isn't that nice?
Very nice.

I don't think you need dressing...
Do you want potatoes?

Matthew, do you want potato?
No, I've got that.

Every time I look at my daughter,
I must remember Nadine Hwang.

When my daughter was born in '71,
I was terribly excited.

I always wanted a little girl.

When my mother came to visit me
in the nursing home,

she said "Irene, I made
a promise a very long time ago.

"I'd like you to keep it."

And she told me
about this woman, Nadine Hwang...

who'd come from Auschwitz
to the camp.

My mother was very fond of her
and they used to have long chats.

And towards the end,
when things were very, very bad

there were loudspeakers
urging people to go to Bergen-Belsen.

But Nadine Hwang told my mother
that she'd heard

that there were
some white buses coming

and that there were people
going to be taken out of the camp