Otto Rosenberg

Otto Rosenberg, born on 28 April 1927 in Draugupönen in East Prussia, grew up with his grandmother in Berlin. In 1936, both had to move to the Gypsy camp in the Berlin borough of Marzahn. In April 1943, Otto Rosenberg was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Shortly before the Gypsy Family Camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liquidated, he was transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp for slave labour. In April 1945, Otto Rosenberg was taken on an evacuation transport from the Ellrich satellite camp of Mittelbau-Dora to the barracks camp at Bergen-Belsen, where he was liberated a few days later by British troops. Like many Sinti and Roma prisoners, the 17-year-old Rosenberg immediately left the camp and collapsed from total exhaustion after walking for a few kilometres.  

He was treated at a hospital in Celle for a few weeks and then returned to Berlin. In 1970, Otto Rosenberg founded the Sinti-Union Berlin association, which evolved into the Landesverband deutscher Sinti und Roma Berlin-Brandenburg e.V (Berlin-Brandenburg State Association of German Sinti and Roma). He was the chairman of both associations for years and remained so until his death. Today, his oldest daughter, Petra Rosenberg, carries on his work.

In 1998, Otto Rosenberg received the Federal Cross of Merit First Class, one of the highest state decorations in Germany today, for his work on behalf of the Sinti and Roma people in the country. The same year, his autobiography entitled “Das Brennglas” (“A Gypsy in Auschwitz”) was published. After a long illness, Otto Rosenberg died on 4 July 2001 of the long-lasting consequences of his concentration camp imprisonment. In 2007, a street and a square in the grounds of the former Gypsy camp in the Berlin borough of Marzahn-Hellersdorf were named after him. A “Place of Remembrance and Information” can also be found there.

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