Winner of the Jacob and Clara Egit Foundation Award for Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Literature.
Rosenberg narrates a harrowing story in which we witness through her experience the ever-increasing restrictions on Jews, first with the Nazis enacting laws that introduced armbands and curfews. They also forced Jews to hand over money and valuables, then put them in ghettos, then conducted aktions – roundups of Jews, often on Jewish holidays. Those in hiding were often literally smoked out when the Nazis set fires. Those not killed in the ghettos were sent to slave labor camps or concentration camps (in this case Belzec) or were shot and buried in fields and forests outside of the ghettos.
What saved Blanca Rosenberg was luck, her blond hair and blue eyes, the ability she had to speak a number of languages, her wits, and the willingness of several Poles to risk their lives to help Jews survive. Through her brother, she met a woman whose brother, a priest, was able to supply her with an authentic birth certificate of a dead Ukranian woman. She escaped from the ghetto and took on the identity of a Polish peasant and tried to melt into the world outside the ghetto.
But the author becomes wary because there were a lot of Jews with false papers and anyone turning in such a Jew received a bounty. She describes people posing as helpers, even members of the Resistance, who are suspected of being double agents. Police who suspect and often confirm false identities demand higher and higher blackmail fees to forestall arrest. Friends, though well-meaning, are often indiscreet and careless. Soon, her identity suspected, she escapes to Lwow, then has to flee to Warsaw where she ends up living directly outside the Warsaw ghetto during the uprising. In danger, again, she flees back to Lwow.
Eventually she ends up in Heidelberg, working in the home of a wealthy German when the Americans liberate the city and with the help of the American Joint Distribution Committee she travels to find out if family members survived. In 1949 she immigrated to the United States and eventually settled in New York and became a social worker and psychotherapist.
Although many readers will have read accounts of surviving the Holocaust that are similar to this one written by Blanca Rosenberg, her story has its own contours and is particularly valuable for its wealth of detail about her ghetto experience in Kolomyja, and the intricacies of obtaining and living as a Jew with a false identity. The author elaborates on her title, To Tell At Last, in her epilogue where she writes about how getting the story down has helped her to finally confront much of her past. It is clear she suffers from survivor’s guilt, a common attribute of Holocaust survivors. Then again, maybe “guilt” isn’t quite right; maybe “remorse” is more accurate. She says she never stops thinking about those she lost.
This memoir includes a map, photos, and an index.
To read about the Kolomyja ghetto, click here.
David and Rachel Ehrenreich
Elenore Ehrenreich – daughter of David and Rachel; married Eli Nebenzahl
Blanca Nebenzahl – daughter of Eli and Elenore – married Wolf Rosencranz; 2nd marriage to Samuel Rosenthal
Zygmund Rosencranz – son of Blanca and Wolf
Alexander Rosenberg – son of Blanca and Sam; married Merle
Adrianne Rosenberg – daughter of Alexander and Merle
Eugene Rosenberg – son of Alexander and Merle
Mark Rosenberg – son of Blanca and Sam
Romek Nebenzahl – son of Eli and Elenore
Bernie and Izak Nebenzahl – twin sons of Eli and Elenore
Max Rosencranz – brother of Wulf (see above)
Gina Niederhoffer – first wife of Sam Rosenberg
Anna Rosenberg – daughter of Gina and Sam
Paula Korzenik Bergman – cousin of author from Zablotow
Josef Korzenik – cousin of author; brother of Paula
Friends and Acquaintances
Frania Gitterman– sister of Mati
Leszek (Alex) Gitterman – son of Frania
Helen – Frania’s sister-in-law
Cyla Goldstein – sister of Mati
Menek Goldstein – son of Cyla
Michal and Lodzia (Rose) Klepfisz
Irena Klepfisz – daughter of Michal and Lodzia
Nunek and Mati (Maria) Rosenbloom Najder
Celek Najder – brother of Nunek
Lonek and Celia Rothenberg
Nowy Sacz, Poland
Krakow-Plaszow, Poland labor camp