Rachel Rosa Probst was born Ruchel Reisel to Rubin and Scheindle Neuwirt Probst on May 19, 1890, in Stryj, Poland, now in the western Ukraine. She had two sisters, Fayga and Pennina. A high school graduate, she worked in a bank prior to moving to Vienna when she married her husband Israel Weinbach on November 30, 1919. Israel had served in WWI. They had two sons, Bert, born in 1920, and Kurt, born in 1928.
When the Nazis annexed Austria in March 1938, Bert, now 17 years old, escaped to Tientsin (Tianjin), China, after attempting to travel to Paris to live with his paternal aunt, uncle and cousin. Rosa, Israel, and young Kurt remained in Vienna until January, 1941, when Israel’s WWI officer, Heinrich Stumpfl, now a three-star general and Stadtkommandant (regional commander) of Vienna, saved the family so they could join Bert in Tientsin. (See also Kurt Weinbach entry). The General not only provided the family with exit visas but also paid for their first-class passage on the Trans-Siberian Express. Their visas to enter China were obtained through the ingenuity of Rosa who convinced the Japanese officials, now in control of China, that an invitation she had received from Kurt’s brother, Bert, to join the Jewish community's social club in Tientsin constituted an official entry visa. Unfortunately Rachel’s sister and father did not survive; they were killed in Stryj. Most of Israel's brothers and sisters and their spouses and children were also murdered.
Rachel, Israel, and Kurt, as well as Bert and his family, lived in Tientsin from 1941-1945 under Japanese rule and from 1945 to 1948 under the United States Marine control. Bert, his wife and their two young children, left with the Marines. Rachel, Israel and Kurt remained for six more months, living under the Communist government. In 1949 they emigrated to Israel where her husband died three months after their arrival succumbing to the aftereffects of war and resettlement as well as the difficulty of obtaining medical care in a very new country.
In March 1957 Rachel came to Rochester, New York, with her son Kurt to be reunited with Bert and his family who had emigrated first to Canada than to Rochester. She immediately became active at the Jewish Community Center and Congregation Beth Sholom. An educated woman, she made a strong impression on all with whom she came into contact. Proud of her abilities, she was artistic and creative. She redesigned all of her own clothing. A family treasure was a painting of Cinderella that she made in Stryj and that traveled with her from her native Poland to Vienna, to China, to Israel and finally to Rochester. She passed away on March 2, 1971 where her two sons, their wives and their children were united.