A Romance Story For Your Saturday Morning

Book CoverIn my house, we roll out of bed on most Saturdays, and hang out in our jammies, eating breakfast, playing games, watching tv, and reading. Here’s a story that will give you that warm-jammies-and-hot-beverage feeling, with proof that true and abiding kindness and love can flourish in the most hideous of circumstances.

A children’s book has been written based on the story, and a film and autobiography are now in the works. There’s some online (of course) who question the veracity of Herman and Roma Rosenblat’s story, but in my slippers with my family, warm and safe, I’m happy to embrace the idea that it’s true.

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  1. 1
    theo says:

    I remember hearing about this story, though not in great detail, some years ago. I have no doubt it’s true. And Mr. Rosenblat has the autobiography scheduled for release in February 2009 (I think that’s it). It tore at my heart then and still does. And it proves that even in our darkest hours, whatever they may be, one tiny spark of hope can change the course of our lives forever.

    Thanks, SB Sarah for posting this one.

  2. 2

    I haven’t heard about it before…but I can easily believe it.  And it’s a lovely story.

  3. 3
    Lori says:

    It brings tears to my eyes. There is always goodness to be found, even in the mst horrific of circumstances.

  4. 4
    TracyS says:

    What a beautiful story. I see no reason to not believe it is true. That time period is full of stories like these. Stories of small kindnesses that changed lives.  The fact that they found each other again is incredible but not unbelievable.

  5. 5

    I heard about their story a while ago and I choose to believe.  I’ve found that things happen in life that are much stranger than fiction. Some things…you just can’t make up. And I think this is one of those things.

  6. 6
    Grace says:

    Thanks for the link! I read the story in an email recently, and really wanted to believe it was true – it’s good to have a more reliable source. :-)

  7. 7
    AgTigress says:

    I see no reason at all why it shouldn’t be true;  remarkable coincidences do happen in real life all the time.  In any case, it is a lovely, moving story.
    One of the things that we have to remember when thinking of that period of history is that there are many, many inspiring stories of selfless courage, kindness and joy, as well as the horrors that show us to what depths humanity can fall.

  8. 8
    AgTigress says:

    Whenever I have been thoroughly depressed by hearing about the Holocaust – or indeed, other horrors of that war and of thers – I take another look here:

    http://www1.yadvashem.org/righteous_new/index.html

    and read some of those stories again.  This does much to restore one’s faith in human nature.

  9. 9
    SonomaLass says:

    My mom sent me this story by email earlier this week.  It’s nice to be able to send her back the link to the book.  What a sweet story.

    However, I’m not going to put my fingers in my ears and go “la la la” if this turns out to be a hoax, either.

    So far, the attempts to discredit the story have been focused on details about the timing, the layout of the camps, and so on.  It doesn’t surprise me that they might have mis-remembered some things, with the intervening years and stressful events. The “urban legends” folks over at snopes.com have given it an “undetermined” rating, because although “it seems almost churlish to doubt such a wonderfully life-affirming tale,” there’s nothing that confirms the story independently, yet.

  10. 10
    ev says:

    I think it was Reader’s Digest I originally read this in.

    I choose to believe that it is true. How many of us, 60+ years later would remember every detail of a place? I sure wouldn’t. For those who feel they must go out and prove something in the story is false, must have a real problem with self-esteem. Just because the layout remembered, BY A BOY, may not be what it actually was doesn’t make it false.

    It just makes the hard-hearted, cold-blooded, party-poopers who need to get a life, or at least laid.

  11. 11
    Helen M says:

    Oh, my heart. I have had a soul destroying day at work, and though this story (which I’m choosing to believe is true) has left me blubbering like a baby, I’m glad you shared it – the cathartic cry is just what I needed. Thank you.

  12. 12
    Sybylla says:

    Whenever I have been thoroughly depressed by hearing about the Holocaust – or indeed, other horrors of that war and of thers – I take another look here: (snip)and read some of those stories again.

    AgTigress,
    It’s a great site.  I just wish it said more about the rescue of the Jews in Denmark.  Denmark had a tiny Jewish population (I think it was only about 8000), but when the Germans decided to deport the Jewish Danes (as the Danes themselves thought of them – note which element gets the emphasis), most of the country mobilized.  A German administrator named Duckwitz told his Danish counterpart, Hedoff, that the Jews were going to be deported to camps, and Duckwitz told the Resistance.  The Resistance alerted everyone they could think of, and the Danes went nuts.  Churches falsified christening records, hospitals created patient records, universities shut down and told their students to find people to warn about the coming raids, the Danish police refused to cooperate with the German orders, etc.  The fishing villages on the Baltic smuggled 7200 people into Sweden in the space of a couple of weeks.  All told, maybe 500 Danes were deported to Thereseinstadt (sp?) (and the Danish Red Cross insisted on being able to visit them and to check on their condition), and only 50 died.  In all, Denmark, which was occupied by the Germans starting in 1941 or ‘42, had a 98% survival rate for its Jewish citizens.  And they welcomed their refugees back after the war.

    It’s my favorite story from the Holocaust, because it involves an entire nation saying, “hell no!” to the Nazis, and yet almost no one I’ve met has ever heard of it.

  13. 13
    Sybylla says:

    Whoops…  Hedoff told the Resistance, not Duckwitz.

  14. 14
    tracykitn says:

    Ultimately, does it really matter if it’s true? Would you love the story less if it came from the pen of one of your favorite romance authors? I’d personally rather revel in the warm fuzzies than worry about whether there’s any third-party confirmation. There’s plenty of stuff that happens without anyone but the people most intimately involved being aware of it, and that doesn’t make any of it less true. (And anyone who’s interested in a heartwrenching, semi-autobiographical novel about the Holocaust, look for Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose, which you’ll probably find in the YA section of your favorite bookstore.)

  15. 15
    AgTigress says:

    Sybylla:  yes, the Danish story.  It is very inspiring.  Denmark is a remarkable nation and people in many ways.

    I had heard of it!  In fact, I should say that the story of the concerted Danish action to protect their Jewish citizens is pretty widely known and admired in the UK – perhaps less so in some other countries?  I don’t know. 

    :-)

  16. 16
    Sybylla says:

    AgTigress:  I’m in the US, and in high school I heard the (untrue) story of King Christian’s wearing the star of David and that’s leading to the larger population of Copenhagen’s wearing it, and that was the extent to which it was talked about.  In college I took a cheerful little class called “Exploring the Holocaust and the Phenomenon of Genocide,” and it wasn’t mentioned.  I taught high school English for six years in a town with a very large Jewish population, and the Holocaust was covered in great detail in the curriculum.  However, when I talked about the Danish boatlift, etc., none of my students had heard of it.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve spoken with fewer than five people in my life who know about it, although a few more than that have heard the King Christian story.

    My own completely unscientific and unreasonably generalizing hypothesis is that US culture is so infatuated with the concept of the individual and individual heroism that the Danish story just doesn’t fit into people’s imaginations very well since it’s so much a story of collective action.  The first time I taught about it, I mentioned the King Christian story, and one of my students later told me he preferred that version of events (even though – as I’m still not sure he was willing to accept – it didn’t happen).

    Of course, I’m probably wrong.  :)

  17. 17
    Michele says:

    I think the world needs to hear these kind of stores whether or not they are true. Personally, I believe in this one because I believe love is stronger than hate and that love will always find a way. Because that’s what touched me the most- when the man said he had learned to let go of the hate (I don’t remember the exact words but I read this article several times this week).

  18. 18

    My own completely unscientific and unreasonably generalizing hypothesis is that US culture is so infatuated with the concept of the individual and individual heroism that the Danish story just doesn’t fit into people’s imaginations very well since it’s so much a story of collective action.

    Between you and me, Sybylla, I think the fact that an ENTIRE COUNTRY banded together to save the Jews is even more touching than a single hero. One person can be selfless, but for a whole country to risk all that? It’s nothing short of a miracle!

  19. 19
    AgTigress says:

    Sybylla:  what you say is really interesting.  The stories of Righteous Gentiles on the Yad Vashem site are also focused on individuals, and several of those directly involved in the Danish evacuation of their Jewish citizens are cited.  It is simply that the story is not brought together as a whole.  I remember it was the subject of one programme in a very good British TV series about the Holocaust a few years ago, but I had heard about the Danish boatlift before then.  I am not Jewish, and though I have a general interest both in German history and the Second World War, I think I knew about the Danes and their courage and competence in that dreadful time in the mysterious, symbiotic way in which one absorbs ‘received knowledge’.  But I had never heard the story about the King of Denmark wearing the yellow star.

    Maybe it is just because we are in Europe, and our world-view is slightly different?  Certainly our memories of the Second World War are different in many respects from the USA’s memories, for obvious reasons.  We tend to be rather ignorant about the war in the Pacific, for example, and I was actually in my late teens or even my 20s before I realised that Pearl Harbor is on Oahu rather than on the west coast of the North American Continent!  As a child, I vaguely assumed it was probably somewhere in California. 

    In ‘publicity’ terms (not quite the right word, but I can’t think of the right one at the moment), there is a strong preference for focusing on the stories of individuals rather than groups of people, because there is an assumption that this makes the stories easier to absorb and remember.  I am not even sure it is true, but it is one of those things that people believe.

    Anyway, well done to you for making that piece of history better known.  As I said before, we need to repeat the stories that demonstrate that the human spirit can reach great heights of selfless nobility, as well as those that chronicle unspeakable depths of depravity.

  20. 20
    Theresa says:

    I know of the Danish resistance from reading Suzanne Brockmann’s Over the Edge (I think that was the title, Stan and Teri’s story).  I’m not sure if I knew about it before reading that, but if so, only vaguely.

    As to whether or not the above story is 100% true, I really don’t care.  Stranger things have surely happened.  The life they’ve made together deserves to be celebrated!

  21. 21
    SonomaLass says:

    Color me cynical, I guess, but to me it does matter whether it’s true or not.  Just like it mattered when that YA book Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years turned out to be a hoax; the author could have made her point by writing it as a work of fiction, but she didn’t, and that bugged me.  And a lot of other people, as I recall.  If this story isn’t true, it still would have made a sweet children’s book or a romance novel, because it IS a heart-warming, wonderful story. 

    Not that I’m out there trying to disprove it, because I have neither the time nor the expertise.  I will just be sad if someone does, because I think fake memoirs tarnish (and to some extent dishonor) the real ones.

  22. 22
    LA says:

    Hmm… I’m really surprised at how many people don’t know about the Danes. I don’t know your ages but it might be generational, because one of the most popular books to teach the Holocaust to kids now is Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, set in Denmark and featuring the boat lift (it won the Newbury medal). It was published around 1990 and is good for people in grade 4 and up. So maybe if you’re under about 30, you have a higher chance of knowing.

    Me, I can’t believe people don’t know about Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat dispatched to Hungary during the war who saved thousands of Jews with passports and documents declaring them citizens of Sweden. There are eyewitness accounts of him climbing on top of the prison trains as the guards yelled at him and stuffing papers through the roof so people could use them to claim neutrality. He was lost when the Red Army took Hungary and was probably killed by the Soviets, but nobody ever found out.

  23. 23
    ev says:

    Number the Stars is an awesome book- at any age. It was on every schools summer reading list when I was at Border’s and we would sell tons of copies of it. Even as an adult it is a good read.

  24. 24
    Tae says:

    I know I’ve read this story in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul type books.

  25. 25
    moom says:

    That’s quite a story, I actually stopped reading it ‘cause I’m at work and I didn’t want to start crying.

    I’ve got to recommend another book, written by a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, ‘Lieb macht frei’ (spelling may be off, mein deutsch ist schlecht). It might be difficult to get hold of as I got my copy when I worked in a bookshop in the town the author now lives in and I met the gentleman who wrote the book, an incredible person. It’s one of those books that you read and can hardly believe what you’re reading.

  26. 26
    EmmyS says:

    (Forgive if this is a duplicate; I hit Submit but it didn’t seem to post.)

    Another story that highlights the Danish resistance is Leon Uris’s Exodus. The movie version starring Paul Newman is great, but leaves out (due to time constraints) a lot of detail in the book.

  27. 27
    Shy Guy says:

    Still, even though we want to believe it is a true story, it might not be really true. the part about the apples and the fence and the girl being the same girl he meets on blind date in NYC after the war, this part sounds made up. Many are questioning it now, but nobody really wants to do that: GOOGLE IT.

    I read the story and read Deborah lipstadt’s blog responses. it could be
    viewed this way:

    this is a moving story, we don’t know if it’s true;
    however, the content of it lifts the heart and connects us to the
    eternal kindness of G-d giving us hope in life.
    it is unfortunate that
    in all the responses on the blog no one mentions the healing quality
    of such a story.
    for ultimately it is our spiritual connection that
    helps us to triumph over all the negativity. the baal shem tov himself
    said that sometimes prayers don’t work, sometimes stories are needed
    because they can go higher.
    reb nachman told his students that he had
    tried to teach them but now he would just have to tell them stories.

    BUT……There are shelves upon shelves of books with real life testimonies of
    such moving stories. Making stories up and passing them off as true
    gives ammunition to holocaust deniers and Jew haters. That alone
    should move you to tears.

    There’s nothing wrong with telling fabled stories when you make sure
    that everyone understands that they are fictitious.

    Comment by Shy Guy — July 14, 2008 @ 3:53 am

  28. 28
    Shy Guy says:

    SonomaLass is right she she wrote above
    on 10.18.08 at 08:29 PM in the Year of the Lord, which Lord, the Christian Lord or the Hebrew Lord or the Moslem God?

    Color me cynical, I guess, but to me it does matter whether it’s true or not.  Just like it mattered when that YA book Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years turned out to be a hoax; the author could have made her point by writing it as a work of fiction, but she didn’t, and that bugged me.  And a lot of other people, as I recall.  If this story isn’t true, it still would have made a sweet children’s book or a romance novel, because it IS a heart-warming, wonderful story. 

    Not that I’m out there trying to disprove it, because I have neither the time nor the expertise. I will just be sad if someone does, because I think fake memoirs tarnish (and to some extent dishonor) the real ones.

  29. 29
    Shy Guy says:

    What people need to focus on is this: what are the chances that a girl threw apples over a fence in a Nazi death camp? What are the chances that she continued to do this for 3 months? What are the chances that the girl grew up and went to USA and the boy grew up and went to UK and then USA and on a blind date meets the GIRL from the CAMPS again? One if 5 trillion? But everyone wants to beleive this? Why? Because they cannot trust the media anymore? This backstory may very well be a fictional story the Rosenblats have been telling for 10 years, ever after they went on Oprah show in 1996…..and now a movie IS SAID to be in the works, but no production of movie has started at all, they just a website that is all, repeat, there is NO MOVIE being made, and MR R is going to publish his ghost written 350 page autobiography in 2009 to back up this backstory for the movie? But why does everyone want to believe something that might not be true? Because people are sheep today and gullible.

  30. 30
    EmmyS says:

    But why does everyone want to believe something that might not be true? Because people are sheep today and gullible.

    Why does it matter so much to you what other people believe? If believing this story makes someone feel hope, that’s their own business. I fail to see how it should have any effect on you…

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