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Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust

Rosa Katz.Rosa Katz.
Rosa Katz

Name: Rachel (Rosa) Goldberg Katz (1924 – 2013)

Birth Place: Lodz, Poland

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1953, Oshkosh

Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself, and this frightens me.

— Rosa Katz

Map of survivor's journey in Europe.


Rachel (Rosa) Goldberg Katz was born in Lodz, Poland, on May 6, 1924, to a well-to-do family with liberal Jewish beliefs. In 1935, her sister and brother-in-law immigrated to Palestine while the rest of the family remained in Poland. When the Germans occupied Lodz in 1939, 15-year-old Rosa was among the thousands of Jews crowded into the city's ghetto.

Three years later, in July 1942, her mother was deported from the ghetto and never heard from again. In August 1944, the Lodz Ghetto was liquidated. Its starving residents, including Rosa, her father, brother, and sister-in-law, Hela, were all shipped to Auschwitz. There she was separated from her father and brother. She never saw them again.

German officials mistakenly sent Rosa and hundreds of other Jewish women (instead of French prisoners) to work at the Krupp munitions factory in Berlin. For eight months, Rosa assembled delicate timepieces for German bombs. In March 1945, she was transferred to the death camp in Ravensbruck, Germany.

The Swedish Red Cross liberated the camp within a month of her arrival. Its inhabitants were transported to Sweden where Rosa recuperated for several years. She married Bernard Katz there (also a survivor). In April 1948, they came to the U.S.

Initially settling in North Carolina, the Katz family moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 1953. They raised four children while Rosa earned a degree in nursing. She worked as a nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh until her retirement in 1994.

Audio and Transcript Information

Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions

Listen to Rosa's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Family, childhood in Lodz, Poland
  • Family members who emigrated to Palestine
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.2 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 1, Side 2
  • Religious and secular schooling
  • Jewish cultural activities in Lodz
  • Anti-Semitism prior to the war
  • Her family's fear as war approached
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 2, Side 1
  • Start of World War II
  • The German invasion of Lodz
  • Creation of the ghetto
  • Description of Lodz Ghetto, 1940-1944
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 2, Side 2
  • Over-crowding, starvation, disease in Lodz Ghetto
  • Sadistic cruelty by the Nazis
  • Rosa's family is torn apart
  • Adolescent reactions to these horrors
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.2 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 3, Side 1
  • Living conditions and labor in the Lodz Ghetto
  • Government administration in the ghetto
  • Futile acts of resistance
  • A typical day in the ghetto
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 3, Side 2
  • Rosa's deportation from Lodz Ghetto, August 1944
  • Arrival at Auschwitz and destruction of her family
  • Conditions at Auschwitz
  • Shipped to Berlin for forced labor
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 4, Side 1
  • Arrival in Berlin and symbolic acts of resistance
  • Forced labor in Krupp munitions plant
  • Allied bombing of the city
  • Jewish prisoners cheer the bombers
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.2 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 4, Side 2
  • Forced march to Oranienburg
  • Transfer to the death camp at Ravensbruck
  • Liberation by Swedish Red Cross
  • Arrival in Sweden, April 1945
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 5, Side 1
  • Rosa's attempts to find surviving family members
  • Rosa's husband and his family background
  • Their marriage and immigration to the U.S. in 1948
  • Living in North Carolina before settling in Oshkosh
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 5, Side 2
  • Rosa moves to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 1953
  • Anti-Semitism and kindness experienced there
  • Oshkosh Jewish community during the 1950s
  • Working as a nurse and raising children
Download Audio (MP3, 25 minutes, 11.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 6, Side 1
  • Friends and family life in Oshkosh
  • Attitudes of Americans toward the Holocaust
  • Religious and social life
  • A typical day
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)
Tape 6, Side 2
  • Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
  • Reflections on U.S. culture and politics
  • Travelling to Israel
  • Rosa's philosophy on life
Download Audio (MP3, 19 minutes, 9.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 591 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by archivist Sara Leuchter during two sessions at the Katz home on October 28 and 29, 1980. The first lasted two hours and the second nearly four and one-half.

    Rosa's recollections are particularly interesting because she survived for almost five years in the Lodz Ghetto. Her experiences of the near-miraculous deportation from Auschwitz and her work on time bombs at the Krupps munitions plant in Berlin offer a unique addition to the experiences of the survivors interviewed for this project.

    Rosa comes across as a very kind and loving woman. Her strength and will to survive are evident throughout the interview. The description of her arrival at Auschwitz is powerful and heartbreaking, and testifies to the strength of those who survived to bear witness.

    Teachers should note that Rosa describes many instances of horrific cruelty, which may not be suitable for younger students.

Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Oct 28, 1980; Oct 29, 1980
  • Interview Location: Katz home, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Sara Leuchter
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 6 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 2 interviews, total approximately 6.5 hours
  • Transcript Length: 127 pages
  • Rights and Permissions: Any document may be printed or downloaded to a computer or portable device at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers, students and researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission.


  • View more information by clicking the link below each picture.

    See more Rosa Katz pictures in our Wisconsin Historical Images collection.

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