Eva Rosner (née Liebermann) had an essentially Polish background. She was born in Krosno, Poland in 1931, and attended school in Potok. Although her father Otto had become an Austrian citizen in 1919, he was born in Jaslo, Galicia (now Poland), and her mother Stella (née Schacherl) came from Lwow (thenGalicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Otto (a scientist and chemical researcher who invented a synthesis of dolomite), together with his brother Karl (Charles) managed their father’s oil wells in Galicia from the late 1920s. Stella worked as a secretary for a time.
Life in Poland for these secular Jewish families was described as ‘idyllic’, ‘surrounded by oil derricks and forest’, but in 1938 ‘whispers and fears pervaded’ and news about physical and verbal abuse filtered through. Polish authorities announced that Austrian passports were invalid and must be replaced by German ones; the Liebermanns’ passports were therefore taken, though later re-issued. However, Austrian and German residents were being forcibly deported. Eva was 7 years old when Otto was tipped-off and hid for several weeks; her paternal uncle Arthur spent some time in Dachau.
Spring 1939 was ‘terrifying’ for Eva; ‘much of that time is a complete blank’ she stated. The family eventually obtained visas for Bolivia via England and Chile, travelling by ship from Gdynia (Poland) to Hull May/June 1939. Clothing, china and artwork were sent to Liverpool, but various delays caused everyone to remain in Britain – then WWII was declared. This prevented onward travel and depleted funds, so Bloomsbury House helped out. Otto was subsequently interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man 1940–41; Eva was sent to boarding school, ‘a culture shock’. She was ‘glad to be alive’ but was evacuated with her sister and moved to eleven different locations including Newbury, Bucks., and recalled frightening low-flying German planes that fired into the yard. It was ‘a traumatic time’.
Post-war the family was reunited in Forest Gate, Ilford. Otto was a research chemist in Stratford East, Stella worked at home for the Fortnum & Mason store. She made children’s clothes and did special embroidery. Luiza became a nurse then a medical representative. Eva wanted to be an artist but studied fashion and pattern cutting and worked in factories in the ‘rag trade’. Later, she later turned to bakery and catering, and taught in S.E. Technical College in Dagenham. In 1950 she married Friedrich Wolfgang Rosner, an observant Jew, Young Austria member, marketing manager and teacher, in Beehive Lane synagogue, Ilford. Friedrich had come to Britain with his brother Egon in 1938 on a Kindertransport from Vienna, and helped his Czechoslovak father and Polish mother to follow. An amateur singer, he gave recitals in AJR homes, and talked to adults about his experiences. He died in February 2018.
Eva visited Warsaw and Bielsko-Biala in Poland in 1988, but the ‘vibes’ left her feeling ‘very uncomfortable’, and in Vienna aware of anti-Semitism there.
Arthur; Egon; Eva; Friedrich; Helga; Karl/Charles; Kate; Liebermann;Luiza; Otto; Rosner; Schacherl; Stella; Wilma.
Austria; Bielsko-Biala; Bloomsbury House; Bolivia; Czechoslovak(ia); Dachau; Gdynia; Hull; Ilford; Isle of Man; Jaslo; Kosher; Krosno; Lwow; Poland; Potok.Vienna. Young Austria. Galicia oil fields. Theresienstadt. Dr. Mengele (husband’s cousin drew for him)