Edgar Rosenberg’s Testimony with Recollections and Reflections by Bill Mohr

May 9, 2010 at 9:35 am 2 comments

This morning, we received the material below from Edgar Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University. He is Harry Rosenberg’s brother. As previously mentioned, we were friends in Haiti when I was 4, Harry was 10 and Edgar was 13. In a telephone conversation with Edgar, who is in France until the fall, I learned he remembers seeing my mother and father standing on the dock in Port-au-Prince, as he and his family arrived on the boat that took them to Haiti. Edgar has published articles related to his experiences including Hitler Over my Head (Judaism, Summer 1999) and Vanishing Acts (Commentary, May 1982).

Edgar’s Haiti and Germany related photographs and other material of interest to our readers are in his home in Ithaca, NY and we look forward to receiving more upon his return to the U.S.

(CLICK HERE to see the Rosenberg Photo Gallery)

From Edgar, I learned our fathers were part of a Saturday night group in Fürth, friends who met prior to Kristallnacht. I was surprised to learn, one of the men became, in Edgar’s words, a “turn-coat” who went so far as to write an article attacking my father. I have written to the director of The Jewish Museum of Franconia, in Fürth, for a copy of the newspaper article.

I also learned for the first time, from Harry and Edgar, about the existence of malaria and dengue fever in Haiti when we were there. It touched their family, but they do not remember if anyone in my family became ill as well.

Another memory, Harry and Edgar shared is that on one of their regular visits to my home in Port-au-Prince, on their way home from school, they found my parents crying. They had just received a telegram from my father’s sister, Bette, in Stockholm, stating my grandmother, who had to remain in Germany, had died. My grandmother was on her deathbed when my parents left and could not come with us, a very bitter experience they never forgot. Harry and Edgar remember going back to their home to tell their father what had happened and bring him to speak to my parents, who were devastated by the news.

For reasons we, three children at the time, do not understand, our fathers parted ways after the Haiti experience and our families remained mostly estranged. This project has led to our reunion, which is a source of great pleasure for me.

Since it is Mother’s Day, I want to end with a statement, from an e-mail dated April 16, 2010, by Harry Rosenberg,  regarding our mothers, and the burden they faced having to prepare their families for flight to Haiti and immigration to the United States, “After thinking about your mother’s trip to Hamburg,  and our mother’s role in heading our household,  negotiating our departure with the Nazi bureaucracy ,  and getting  herself, Edgar, myself and my paternal grandmother safely out of Germany after our father had fled to Switzerland, there must have been thousands of young Jewish women in Germany who had led pretty sheltered lives and were suddenly burdened with great responsibilities.”

Today, Mother’s Day 2010, we want to remember all the very special mothers in the past, who performed their duties, with resolve and courage, in the most dire circumstances. They helped to bring their families to safety during the chaotic and dangerous Nazi period, in Germany and other countries similarly affected.

Bill Mohr

The following is Edgar’s biographical information:


Edgar Rosenberg
born September 21, 1925, Fuerth in Bayern
married (1) Birthe Terp-Johansen
born ?March 5, 1942, Copenhagen
married (1) Edgar Rosenberg
September 12, 1965, Ripton, Vermont
divorced November/December 1978, Ithaca, N.Y.
married (2) Allan Rode c. 1980
died December 7, 2006
married  Barbara Anne Hollington
married Edgar Rosenberg
October 7, 2007, New York City


Otto Nathan Rosenberg
born January 6, 1890, Fuerth in Bayern
married Lilly Arnstein, August 1924, Fuerth i. B.
died October 1, 1978, Arlington, Virginia

Lilly Arnstein
born January 7, 1904, Fuerth in Bayern
married Otto Rosenberg, August 1924
Fuerth i. B.
died August 2, 1970, New York City


Max Rosenberg
born August 28, 1956, Fuerth in Bayern
married Johanna Holzinger c. 1886
Fuerth i. B.
died ?October 1930, Fuerth i. B.

Johanna Holzinger
born November 3, 1864, Fuerth in Bayern
married Max Rosenberg c. 1886
Fuerth i. B.
died November 16, 1947
Lengnau (Aargau), Switzerland

Eugen Arnstein
born 1879, Fuerth in Bayern
married Fanny Beck, c. 1902
Fuerth i. B.
died ?November 1930, Fuerth i. B.

Fanny Beck
born November 16, 1879, Pilsen,
Austria (Czechoslovakia)
married Eugen Arnstein c. 1902, Fuerth i. B.
died summer 1941, New York City


Who’s Who in America
Who’s Who in World Jewry
Directory of John Simon Guggenheim Fellow,
International Biographical Dictionary of
Central European Emigres, 1933-1945
The Timetables of Jewish History


(Early entries may be a year off)

Maischule, Fuerth i. B., 1932-35
Israelitische Vor- und Realschule, Fuerth, 1935-1939
M. Viau [private school in Port-au-Prince], 1939-1940
Junior High School 115, New York City, 1940-41
George Washington H.S., New York City, 1941-44
Manhattan Business School, New York City, 1944
[part-time, learning shorthand]
City College of New York, 1944-1945
Cornell University, 1945-1949 (BA), 1950 (MA)
University of Illinois, 1950-1951
Teaching Assistant, Stanford University, 1951-53,
1954-1957 (Ph D, 1958)
Instructor, San Jose State College, 1953-1954
Instructor, Harvard University, 1957-1960
Briggs-Copeland Assistant Professor f English
Harvard University, 1960-1965
Associate Professor of English, Cornell University,
Professor of English, Cornell University, 1969-70
Professor of English and Comparative Literature,
Professor Emeritus 2002-


Fuerth in Bayern, 21 September 1925-late March 1939
Montreux [with foster parents], April-May 1939
[on board the “Claus Horn,” June 1939
Port-au-Prince, late June/early July 1939-February 1940
New York City, February 1940-January 1944
U.S. Army, Weatherford and Paris, Texas, 1944
Grt. Britain, Eupen-Malmedy, 1944-1945
Ithaca, New York, 1945-50
Urbana, Illinois, 1950-1951
Menlo Park, Los Altos, California, 1951-1953
San Jose, California, 1953-54
Palo Alto, California, 1954-1957
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1957-1965
[Israel and Western Europe (sabbatical March-August 1953]
Ithaca, New York, 1965-
London, 1973-1974 (Guggenheim Fellowship)
Jerusalem and Haifa, 1988-1989 (Fulbright Fellowship, Haifa)
Lacroix-Falgarde [Toulouse], April-September 2008, 2009

AWARDS: [again, as above]

Combat Infantry Medal, 1944
Undergraduate Writing Award, c. 1948
Phi Beta Kappa, 1949 or 1950
Doubleday Fiction Award, 1950
Stanford Creative Writing Fellowship, 1951-1952
Bread Loaf Writing Fellowship, 1952
The Annual Father Lahey Lecture, Loyola College, 1966
Cornell Research Grants, 1967, 1968, 1969
John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 1973-1974
Fulbright Fellowship, 1988-1989
Cornell Teaching Award [c. 1997]


[Partial checklist; entries incomplete; dates frequently
uncertain–off by a year or so. The roster spans 57 years].

“Salvation” (story), Cornell Era, 1957
“The Assassin (story), Epoch, Winter 1958
[on interrogating PW’s at the front]
“The Happy One (story), Commentary, 1949
“Our Felix” Stanford Stories, 1951; rept. Twenty Years
of Stanford Stories, c. 1967; rept. Students’s Choice
[novella-length version of “The Happy One,” supra]
“Next of Kin” (novel-fragment), Commentary 1951 or ’52
[fictionalized account of voyage to Haiti]
“Jewishness and the Younger Intellectuals,” Symposium
Commentary, 1959
“A Vengeance” Transl. of Thomas Mann’s vignette
“Geraecht” [1903], Esquire, 1959
From Shylock to Svengali: Jewish Stereotypes in English
Fiction, Stanford, 1960; London, 1961
“The Jew in Western Drama,” Bulletin of the New York
Public Library, 1968; rpt. as introduction to reprint
of Edward D. Coleman’s The Jew In English
Drama [1940?], New York, 1970
“Tabloid Jews and Fungoid Scribblers,” Introduction to
Reprint of H. R. S. Van der Veen, Jewish Characters in
Eighteenth-Century English Fiction and Drama [1935],
New York, 1973
“A Preface to Great Expectations,” Dickens Studies Annual
“Thirteen Years Later,” Symposium, Midstream, 1972
“Small Talk in Hammersmith,” Dickensian [date uncertain]
“Dating Edwin Drood,” Dickensian [date uncertain]
“The Six Endings of Great Expectations,” Dickens Studies
Annual, 1982
“Vanishing Acts” (story), Commentary 1982
[Entries to an Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust c. 1998]
Entries for Rainer Kipphart / Erich Maria Remarque
“Hitler Over My Head” (story), Midstream, 1999
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, ed. E R, Norton
Critical Edition, New York 1999
“Edmund Wilson on George Orwell on Dickens,”
Dickensian, 2002
“[Why Don Carlos?] On Thomas Mann’s ‘Disorder and
Early Sorrow,” Explicator, 2001
“[At Signora Angiolieri’s] On Thomas Mann’s ‘Mario and
the Magician,'” Explicator, 2002
“Nickleby’s Pilgrimage,” Dickensian, 2004
[“Aschenbach High and Low] On Thomas Mann’s
‘Death in Venice,'” Explicator, 2004





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REMEMBRANCE In Remembrance of the 65th Anniversary of the End of World War II

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Thomas W. Miller  |  August 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    It would be the end of me if you remembered that in 1952/53 I was a 30-year-old Marine veteran in your expository writing class a Stanford.
    Half an hour ago, my wife picked out of he bookcase my copy of Stanford Short Stories 1953, containing your “Our Felix.” She asked if I wanted to dispose of it and I said no. I wondered out loud, I wonder what happened to Mr. Rosenberg?
    Why don’t you check on your machine (meaning my computer), she said. So that is why I greet you after such a long time.

  • 2. Belén Ayestarán  |  November 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Prof. Rosenberg was my teacher at Cornell. He was terrific. Since then, I myself have lived in Bavaria. I am married to a German who, as an architect, renovated the train station at Fredrickshafen on the Lake Constance. Prof. Rosenberg told me he remembers boarding off the train there to board a boat (both in the same building on the 2nd floor) to take them to Switzerland. He remembers how amazing it was to see the “sea” for the first time.


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