Franz Rosenbach

1927 (Horatitz, Sudetenland) - 2012 (Nuremberg)

Dep. Chairman of the Bavarian State Association of Sinti and Roma

Franz Rosenbach was born in Horatitz, Sudetenland on 29 September 1927. From 1938 onwards he lived with his family in Töpfritz, Lower Austria. In February 1943 the Rosenbach family was arrested under Heinrich Himmler’s Auschwitz Decree on gypsies and imprisoned in Vienna. Almost a year later they were deported to the "gypsy camp" at Auschwitz/Birkenau, where Franz Rosenbach’s eldest sister died of malnutrition. In April 1944 the SS transferred him to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. His mother and his two other sisters were taken to Ravensbrück. A month later Franz Rosenbach was moved to the Mittelbau-Dora subcamp, where he had to work on the building of the hutted camp above ground. He was subsequently taken to the subcamp at Harzungen.

From there, on 1 April 1945, Wehrmacht soldiers and SS men forced him on to a death march. The guards absconded near Dessau, and Rosenbach managed to make his way back to his home village, but found none of his family there anymore. Not until the early 1950s did he meet his sisters Julie and Mizi again, the only family members to have survived.

After the war Rosenbach was left with nothing. All his papers had been destroyed, and he was declared stateless. For decades he struggled to get by on temporary residence and work permits. He repeatedly applied for the restoration of his citizenship; it was only in 1991 that he was able to acquire German citizenship. For many years Rosenbach was deputy chairman of the Bavarian State Association of Sinti and Roma, working for the association into advanced old age. In addition, until his death he remained a member of the Advisory Board of Former Inmates of Buchenwald Concentration Camp of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation.

On 7 October 2012, at the age of eighty-five, Franz Rosenbach died in Nuremberg.