1929 Rhine, Germany
Westerbork and Theresienstadt Camps
February 6: Rosemary Cremer was born in Neuwied, on the Rhine, Germany.
At the age of six, Rosemary was no longer permitted to attend public school because she was Jewish. A teacher from the synagogue became her teacher; all different grades were situated in one room.
November 9: Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass.” Synagogues were set on fire. Nazis destroyed Jewish businesses, including Rosemary’s parents’ business. Rosemary’s father was arrested and sent to Dachau; Rosemary’s family was able to buy him out two weeks later.
January 1: Rosemary’s father was told to leave Germany by this date. He left for Holland the Netherlands, but was immediately placed in a camp because the Netherlands couldn’t absorb all the refugees.
April 1: Rosemary and her brother soon followed their father; they were immediately put into a nunnery in Rotterdam.
May 14: Rosemary and her brother are prepared to leave Holland. However, the Germans invaded Holland. Rosemary and her family were among Jews brought to build Westerbork, a new Dutch concentration camp.
Rosemary’s mother was set to work as a barrack leader, her father as a housepainter, and her brother worked in administration. Rosemary worked at the train station to list the people who were to be on the transport. The train came every two weeks, claiming to be taking the Jews to a work/labor camp but instead they were sent to other camps such as Auschwitz.
January: Most of the Jews were removed from the Netherlands, except for those still in hiding. One of those who came through Westerbork was Anne Frank. Rosemary, who was the same age as Anne, spent three days with her, and they became friends. Rosemary and her family were sent to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia.
December 17: Rosemary’s father was killed. She never saw her brother again.
Rosemary was to be sent on a transport but she was removed at the last minute by a supervising soldier.
January: After finishing her work in the mica industry each day, Rosemary nursed the emaciated Jews who came from other concentration camps in the transports. Through them, Rosemary was able to find out the truth about the gas chambers and mass killings that were happening in other camps.
May 8: Theresienstadt was liberated by the Russians. Taken by train to the Netherlands, Rosemary had to carry her mother, who weighed 80 pounds at the time and couldn’t walk. The Netherlands refused to allow them entrance and Rosemary threatened to throw herself onto the tracks in order to not return to Germany. They allowed her and her mother entrance.
Rosemary and her mother left for America. They settled in Chicago.