Rose was born in Lodz, Poland, and moved to Sosnowiec, Poland, as a child. Her father was a baker who continued to bake from his house when the Germans took away his license. Mrs. Ash went to a Jewish school for girls. The Jewish and Gentile communities were separate, and there was some anti- Semitism in the village. When the war broke out, Mrs. Ash was about sixteen.
At the end of the war, her parents and sister were dead. The Jews of Sosnowiec were herded into a large open space outside of town where selections were made. Mrs. Ash remembered fighting with the Jewish policeman who tried to separate her from her mother. Just before her mother was put on the transport, she told her to go to Nousaltz on the Oder to be with her sister.
Mrs. Ash volunteered to go to the labor camp. There was little food for the fifteen hundred women imprisoned there: black coffee for breakfast, watery soup for lunch, thin slices of bread for supper. She worked in a yarn factory. She doesn't remember religious or cultural activities or any efforts by the women to resist. People who misbehaved were beaten. She recalled that the woman who was directly in charge of her was kind, and she stressed how unusual that was.
In 1945 as the Russians approached, the camp was evacuated. Her sister tried to escape but was caught and killed. A few days later she and another woman decided to run. They hid in a toilet until the transport left, then began walking. After a few days they were helped by half-Jews, who encouraged them to say that they were from the bombed out city of Dresden and to seek employment.
For six months she was in constant danger, and several times thought that her life was over. When she was sure that the war was over and that the Germans wouldn't come back, she took a truck back to her hometown where her half-sister was still alive. She came to the United States in 1949 with her husband.
Biography written by Joanna Kraus