When he was 12, Herman Rosenblat and his family were taken from their home in Poland and sent to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Young Herman was forced to work shoveling bodies into a crematorium. All the while he did not know if he, too, would soon be killed.
One day two years later, Herman walked up to the barbed wire fence and saw a girl on the other side. “She says, ‘What are you doing in there?'” Herman says. “I said to her, ‘Can you give me something to eat?’ And she took an apple out of her jacket.”The girl fed Herman an apple every day for seven months. Then one day he told her not to come back—he was being moved to another camp. “A tear came down her eyes,” Herman says. “And as I turned around and went back I started to cry, too. I started to cry knowing that I might not see her again.”Herman was shipped to Czechoslovakia. Just two hours before he was scheduled to die in the gas chambers there, Russian troops liberated the camp and Herman was set free.Almost 15 years later, Herman was living and working in New York City. A friend set him up on a blind date with a woman named Roma Radzika. Herman says he was immediately drawn to her. When they began talking about their lives, Roma asked Herman where he was during World War II. “I said, ‘In a concentration camp,'” he says. “And then she says, ‘I came to a camp and I met a boy there and I gave him some apples and I sent them over the fence.’
“And suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I said to her, ‘There was a boy? Was he tall?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘And one day he told you not to come around anymore because he’s leaving?’ And she says, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘That boy was me.’
Roma and her family had moved from Poland to Germany, using forged papers to hide that they were Jewish. They lived on a farm next to Herman’s camp, posing as Christians to avoid being captured. Roma says when she brought apples and bread for Herman, he used to say, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Well, what can I tell you? I proposed right then and there,” Herman says. “I said, ‘Look, I’ll never let you go anymore. … Now that we’re free we’re going to be together forever.'”