Rosensaft, Josef

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ROSENSAFT, JOSEF (1911–1975), business executive. Rosensaft, who was born in Bedzin, Poland, was active in the Labor Zionist movement from his youth. In the years preceding World War ii, he was a scrap metal dealer. In 1943 Rosensaft escaped from an Auschwitz-bound train by diving from it into the Vistula River. Although wounded in his escape, he managed to walk back to the Bendin Ghetto. Soon recaptured by the Germans and tortured in Auschwitz, he was shuttled to several concentration camps before being liberated at Bergen-Belsen in April 1945. Shortly afterward, Rosensaft was chosen by Bergen-Belsen survivors to become chairman of the camp committee representing them. He was also chairman of the Central Committee for Displaced Persons in the British Zone of Germany until the camps were terminated in 1950. In these capacities, he intrepidly furthered Jewish dp (displaced persons) rights and interests against the anti-Zionist British administration. During this period, Rosensaft actively aided the "illegal" movement of Jewish survivors out of Eastern Europe, and the attempt to smuggle Jews into Palestine.

Rosensaft lived in the U.S. and Switzerland after 1950 and was active in various Jewish organizations. He was president of the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors, a group dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust and its victims. Rosensaft assembled a notable art collection.

His son, menachem, who was born in the dp camp of Bergen-Belsen, was a lawyer and the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors as well as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.


S.J. Goldsmith, Twenty 20th-Century Jews (1962), 86–92. add. bibliography: M. Rosensaft, Life Reborn: Jewish Displaced Persons, 1945–1951 (2001).