The story

After a quest of many years, the story about Aunt Rosie has surfaced

In the following overview you will find the most important events of Roosjes history on pictures and film. Look at the story as a film (15 minutes).


Meet the love of her life

Roosje meets the love of her life, Wim. Despite protests from their families they move in together. They share a passion for dancing and life is good to them. Their travels take them to Paris, London and Berlin. Two years later Wim suddenly dies in a plane crash. Roosje loses the love of her life and is devastated.

Rosie marries dance instructor Leo

After Wim’s death, Roosje spends time with her dance teacher, Leo. Leo comforts her and they become closer. They are married half a year later. The couple runs a dance school, although there is an economic crisis at the time. Leo’s brother Marinus is a member of the Dutch Nationalist party (NSB) and Leo joins him. Since Roosje is Jewish this results in a divorce.



Dance school great success

The Germans invade The Netherlands. Soon after they introduce many discriminating measures against the Jewish population. Roosje decides not to obey despite the serious punishments when the rules are broken. Dancing remains her passion and she successfully starts four dance schools. The new dances she introduces increase her success and she is in magazines and the cinema news reels.

Treason and illegal dance attic

Leo betrays Roosje by telling the ‘Kulturkammer’ of her activities. Roosje has to close down her thriving schools. Roosje’s passion, however, does not allow her to be inactive. She continuous with an, illegal, dance school in the attic of her house. In the summer of 1941 she gets engaged to one of her students, Ernst, who is from Switzerland but works in the Netherlands.



Betrayal and arrest again

Leo and Marinus betray Roosje again. She does not wear the Star of David which is enough for her to be locked up in prison for six weeks. She changes her identity and moves to a different town where she lives in a guesthouse run by a member of the Dutch Nationalist Party. She is betrayed again and the police arrest her with their guns drawn.

Rosie teaches dance at SS in Auschwitz

Roosje is sent to a concentration camp, the first of six. She tries to remain in charge of her life by organising cabaret and dance in the camp. She manages to escape from one of the camps but is caught and sent to Auschwitz. She is put into the notorious block where medical experiments take place. She has to work at the gas chambers. Her passion for dance helps her to improve her position, by teaching SS officers to dance.

Of the 1200 people who travelled on her train only 8 survived. Roosje lost 90% of her family. Her parents were murdered as well.



Exchanging against three German soldiers and beginning a new life

The Swedish Red Cross liberates Roosje by exchanging her for three German soldiers. She is taken to a shelter in Sweden. On arrival she weighs 35 kilos, but she recovers fast. Soon she organises cabaret and dance at the shelter.

She enjoys Sweden and decides to stay. She builds a new life with a kind husband, Elon. Roosje dies in Stockholm in 2000.

The discovery of the family secret

Paul Glaser, the author, discovered his aunt’s story and the family secret by accident. After seeing a suitcase with his family name on it in Auschwitz, He decided to write a book about his family secret. During his search to find out more he met Roosje in Stockholm.


Would you like to know more about Roosje’s life? Read the book, look at the pictures and watch the video material.

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