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Hadassah Rosensaft, Leader in Survivor Community, Dies

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Dr. Hadassah Rosensaft, a Holocaust survivor who cared for 150 Jewish orphans at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and was later a spokeswoman for survivors, has died.

She was 85 years old.

Born Hadassah Bimko in Sosnowiec, Poland, in 1912, Rosensaft studied medicine at the University of Nancy in France and earned a doctorate as a dental surgeon in 1935. She practiced dentistry in Sosnowiec until August 1943, when she and her family were deported to Auschwitz where her parents, first husband, Josef Preserowicz, and their 5-year-old son Benjamin were exterminated.

Because of her medical training, Rosensaft was assigned to the Jewish infirmary at Auschwitz, where she saved hundreds of Jewish women.

In November 1944, she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen in Germany where, assisted by seven Jewish women, she treated Jewish orphans infected with typhoid fever and other diseases that swept the camps, killing tens of thousands of inmates.

When Bergen-Belsen was liberated, the British military command appointed her administrator of the hospital there. She treated thousands of survivors who were infected with typhus and similar diseases.

In 1945, Rosensaft was a principal witness for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals before a British military court in Luneburg, Germany.

In 1946, she married Josef Rosensaft, the chairman of the Central Jewish Committee in the British Zone of Germany and of the Jewish Committee of Bergen- Belsen. He died in 1975.

Their son Menachem, a New York attorney and founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust survivors, was born in Bergen-Belsen in 1948.

Eva Fogelman, a social psychologist and psychotherapist who knew Rosensaft said, “She was a marvelous role model for resilience and how to go on with life, and a meaningful life, after experiencing so many losses and such persecution. She gives young people a lot of hope.”

Rosensaft was honorary president of the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors and wrote and lectured about the Holocaust.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed her a member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, and in 1980, he appointed her a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. She served on the council until 1994.

She also chaired the Archives and Library Committee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and was a member of its Executive Committee.

Fogelman, who directs a training program to teach mental health professionals to deal with second generation survivors, said, “She was a tremendous source for the experiences of children during and after the Holocaust. I appreciated her openness, her insight and the dignity with which she carried herself.”

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