Holocaust survivor Rose Schindler presented DA award at Parker

By Matthew Piechalak | mpiechalak@francisparker.org 

L ocal Holocaust survivor Rose Schindler has spent nearly half her life publicly recounting the horrors she endured while inside a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. On Wednesday, Rose was presented an award honoring her for the educational cause she has championed for 48 years. 

Rose received the San Diego County District Attorney’s inaugural “Community Justice Champion Award” prior to her speaking engagement at Francis Parker School. The award was presented in honor of Rose’s “extraordinary service and dedication to promoting just and safe communities.” 

“We are honored to have you as a local treasure in San Diego County,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan told Rose during the presentation. “This award is modeled after you because you are a justice champion.”  

After graciously accepting the award, 90-year-old Rose took her seat on center stage inside J. Crivello Hall and began recounting her life story to members of the Parker community. 

The overall aim of her talk? 

To educate, so that we as a human race are not doomed to repeat the horrors of recent history. 

“I never say ‘no’ [to an appearance] because it’s important to share my story so it doesn’t happen again,” she told the crowd. “It’s a miracle I’m here after all we went through.” 

Rose was a 14-year-old girl when she and her family were taken by Nazi soldiers and placed in the infamous death camp, Auschwitz. It was April 1944. Inside the camp, several family members, including her mother, were murdered. Her father died shortly after the Allies liberated the camp in 1945. 

“It was worse than Hell,” she said. “This really was a God-forsaken place.”

During her 90 minute presentation, Rose detailed many memories, including her humble childhood pre-occupation, the arduous railroad cattle car ride where Jews were forcibly shuttled to the camp, and the unimaginable torment, cruelty, and mass murder inflicted by Nazis inside Auschwitz. 

Perhaps her most vivid–and arguably most important–recollection: her father, whom she called ‘Tata,’ looking her in the eyes and communicating the following words: 

“Stay alive so you can tell the world what they are doing to us.” 

It was the last time she saw her father alive. 

The impact of his words is felt 75 years later, with each presentation she gives. 

Rose began speaking publically in 1972 after she gave her first talk at one of her son’s middle school and decided it was vital to tell her story. The speaking engagements grew year-by-year, and continue today.

She has spoken to thousands–including more than 800 Parker students–always sharing her message of positivity in times of adversity. 

“I survived by not giving in and not giving up,” she said.