WOOBURY - Wednesday marks the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance Day around the world.
News 12 reporter Virginia Huie spoke with Long Island resident Alex Rosner, who says his father’s musical talent saved their lives during the horrific ordeal.
Alex was only 5 years old when German soldiers rounded up his family from their home in Poland because they were Jewish. Alex and his father Henry ended up packed in a train headed to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
“We were on line to go there and someone recognized my father and told whoever was in charge that this is Henry Rosner, the violinist, and he shouldn't be here,” Alex told News 12.
Henry Rosner used his musical ability as a bargaining chip to keep his son safe. He agreed to play for the commandant, who had a weakness for his violin music. Alex was also forced to play the accordion for the Nazis.
Alex and his father entertained the camp's commandant for a few months. The instruments were confiscated when the two were sent on a death march to Dachau. They were then liberated by American soldiers in May 1945.
After the war, Oskar Schindler found the instruments and returned them to the Rosner Family. Alex donated his accordion to the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove. He hopes it serves as a lasting reminder of the power of music and the strength of his father's love that saved him.
“I was very blessed and very lucky to have a father in the true earthly sense of the word who protected me in the worst of times,” he told News 12.
Henry Rosner became a well-known hotel and restaurant violinist in Manhattan. He died in 1995 at age 90. His violin is part of the permanent collection of artifacts at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.