Rose Rechnic (born Ickowicz) came from a close-knit family. Her father Abel Ickowicz was an accountant who had married Andzia, Rose’s mother. Her sister Bronia was 15, her brother Marek 8 years old. Rose describes her family as middle-class who was “lacking nothing.” The children grew up happy with love and support from immediate and extended family. Rose and her siblings attended a private school for Jewish children, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, which she completed with a “Matura.” In 1939, Będzin had approximately 25,000 Jews; the other half were Polish Christians. Rose’s family tried to flee to a safer area but was not successful. Her father was taken within minutes in a roundup after the family returned home.
Later, the family heard the sad news that 29 men and one woman were shot in a courtyard, then buried in a mass grave in a Christian cemetery. In late 1941, the family moved a second time, this time to Kamionka, the official ghetto. Rose had a job working with fur that kept the family from being deported. She was considered “useful” to the Germans.
In August 1943, they were rounded up and forced onto a train under the pretense that they were being “resettled.” In Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rose and her mother contracted typhoid and went to the so-called infirmary. Her mother was eventually sent to the gas chamber. Rose also learned that her sister had been killed while she and her mother were in the infirmary. At this point, Rose was alone, with no other relatives around. Typhoid had left her with severe dysentery. Eventually, her aunt Regina Safirsztain, who was also imprisoned in Auschwitz, found her and was able to help her recover with some food and milk.
After recovering from dysentery and growing somewhat stronger, she missed one day the mandatory roll call, the Appell. The women from her barrack were told by the German guards to give out the name of the missing person, but they all refused. As a punishment, they were forced to stand Appell for four rather than the usually two hours. As punishment, Rose was told she would receive 25 lashes at the gate for missing the Appell. Upon hearing this, she decided to hide in another barrack. As she approached the building, a group or prisoners boarding a train appeared in front of her. Without thinking she joined them and jumped into a cattle car. As it turned out, the train was headed to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in the north of Germany.
On April 15, 1945, British forces arrived and liberated the camp. They handed out food and provided medical aide. Unfortunately, the rich food distributed led to dysentery among many of the starving prisoners. Their shrunken stomachs could not handle it. After liberation, Rose met Lajbek Rechnic, whom she married about seven weeks later. Lajbek, who was also from Będzin, and his brother were the only survivors from his large family. Lajbek had survived by playing the violin for the Germans when they had parties and needed entertainment. His brother had escaped to Siberia where he used his training in medicine to survive.
In 1946, Rose and her husband came to the United States [follow her path]. Her uncle Mordecai (Murray), already in the United States, sponsored them. For Rose it meant to have the opportunity to start over in a new country. She had two daughters, Alice and Elaine. Later, she and her husband created the “Leon and Rose Rechnic Memorial Scholarship” at Stockton University in New Jersey.
Rose Rechnic’s story is also told in
Try to Survive…and Tell the World (2002)
The USC Shoah Foundation (popularly known as Spielberg foundation) interviewed Rose, under the Int. code # 2566, and her husband Leon Rechnic (also from Będzin), Int. code # 2560: