By Rachel Chasin
The village mayor was often intoxicated, and Rosa snuck into his office and forged new identity cards for herself, her children, and for other Jewish refugees. Rosa’s new name was Renée Fontaine, Margit was now Marguerite Fontaine and Arno’s new identity was André Fontaine. In order to justify their German accents, the “Fontaines” were now from Alsace-Lorraine, France—a region once governed by Germany. They lived out the rest of War World II with false identities, hiding in different places.
After the war, they moved to Lyon, France, and resumed using their real names. In 1946, after seven years of being apart, not knowing who was dead or alive, the family was reunited in Katowice, Poland.
“When I was a child, my mother said it was very important for her to always have our shoes, coat and passport near the bed, so we could run away if necessary,” Winter said.
Before the war, in 1935, in the city of Heilbronn, Germany, Winter’s father, Walter Strauss, was barred from attending public school because he was Jewish. His parents sent him at age 13 to an institute in Bex, Switzerland. Walter’s parents, his brother and sister fled to the tiny central European principality of Liechtenstein. In 1938, at 16, Walter finished his education, but couldn’t get a work permit in Switzerland or Liechtenstein. So, Walter moved to Berlin and lived with his Aunt Gerda, and apprenticed with a Jewish tailor.
Soon after, Nazis rampaged throughout Germany, Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia, attacking Jewish residents and vandalizing Jewish businesses and synagogues. It was Nov. 9, 1938, Kristallnacht, “the Night of Broken Glass.” Walter’s aunt told him to hide in a cupboard. The next morning, Walter went to work and discovered that several Jewish employees had left Berlin. Eventually, he decided to leave as well, and escaped to Liechtenstein, where he crossed the border to join other family members in adjoining neutral Switzerland.
In 1961, Margit and Walter met on a holiday in Lugano, Switzerland. They married that same year and raised their four children in Baden, Switzerland.
When Winter learned, a few years ago, that thousands of the world’s remaining Holocaust survivors live poverty, she decided to establish the Gamaraal Foundation in 2014. The nonprofit organization helps survivors in Switzerland. According to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, or Claims Conference (B’nai B’rith International sits on the conference’s Board of Directors), a non-governmental organization that negotiates restitution for Holocaust victims and their families, there are an estimated 480 survivors currently living in Switzerland, and as of December 2014 there are approximately 480,000 survivors worldwide. The Claims Conference also actively helps survivors in Switzerland. The Zurich-based Gamaraal Foundation has provided assistance to more than 80 poverty-stricken survivors. The foundation is named after her four children, Gadi, Manuel, Rafael and Alisa. The first two letters of each name create the word Gamaraal.
Prior to creating the foundation, Winter worked in the fashion industry and founded her own fashion marketing company, Anita S. AG, in 1989. She was an exclusive agent in Switzerland for the Walt Disney Co., Calvin Klein and Delta Galil Industries. She also developed her own fashion line; Anita S. Swiss Designer Fashion. Winter received her degree in economics from the University of Zurich in 1984, and, from 2014 to 2016, she studied advanced management and leadership at the University of St. Gallen.
Winter is currently a special advisor to the Swiss government for Holocaust education and prevention. She is also the vice president of Yad Vashem Switzerland, and for the last three years she has represented B’nai B’rith International at the United Nations Office in Geneva. In March, she spoke to the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of B’nai B’rith about anti-Semitism and the importance of tolerance. Her husband, Herbert Winter, is the president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities.
The Gamaraal Foundation uses a list, generated by the Claims Conference and provided by Switzerland’s social welfare agency, to send money to survivors.
Affluent Holocaust survivors supported the foundation initially. Additional donations have come from other foundations, banks, companies, private contributors and even children of Nazis.
Donations are distributed three times a year, at Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Passover. The money is used to pay for medical expenses, including for visits to the dentist and hearing aids.
Volunteers write down the survivor’s stories so they aren’t forgotten, and Winter hopes to make these personal histories available to the public. Winter has a collection of letters from the survivors expressing gratitude for the organization’s help.
“They are so thankful. It’s not only about the money, they know they aren’t alone, and they feel like they are now getting the recognition they deserve,” Winter said.
Holocaust education is also a big part of her mission. Winter speaks to students, diplomats and associations about her family’s story. She also arranges for Holocaust education at local schools and asks survivors if they’re willing to share their stories with a new generation.
Her grandfather, Jakob Fern, “didn’t speak about the concentration camp, or his traumatic experiences in the Shoah, because he wanted to protect me,” Winter says. “He told me when I was a child something I will never forget. He said: ‘Listen, my darling, my sweetheart, in the war, the Nazis, they took everything from me, they killed in one day my parents, all of my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, they took my fortune, my dignity, even my name—you can lose in life everything, [but there is] only one thing nobody can take from you in life—your education.’”.
Switzerland’s youngest Holocaust survivor is 74, and time is running out. “I urge the world to take action; because I think Holocaust survivors really should live their end of life in dignity and respect. It is in my heart to work towards that. [It is] now or never,” Winter said.
By Sam Seifman
But, due to Roseman’s legal background, the CIA thought it would be best to hire him as an attorney. He accepted the position and, later on, as he always dreamed, the agency moved him to the Directorate of Operations. In preparation for his new role, he trained in martial arts and he even now has a black belt.
Roseman worked his way up, becoming one of the most senior officials in the clandestine service. With plenty of success, both domestically and internationally, he earned high marks within the organization.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many people criticized U.S. government agencies for not working efficiently with each other. Roseman was put in charge of the negotiations between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA, aiming to deconflict the problems. He facilitated an agreement in several weeks.
Because of this success, he was asked to address the issues between the CIA and the military.
“Which part of the military?” Roseman asked his superior at the time.
“I don’t think you understand. The military.”
This time, Roseman sat down with two dozen high-ranking defense officials. Military officials had very clear ideas on what the CIA could not do. By using his method of handling issues, Roseman managed to guarantee all of the CIA’s “must-haves” in the agreement. Again, this was achieved within weeks.
In the 1990s, after the Bosnian War between Muslims, Croatians and Serbs, the State Department asked him to negotiate between Muslim and Croat intelligence agencies to combine them into one. After that was completed, the United Nations asked him to help bring the Serbs into the mix—which he also did.
Roseman has had plenty of experience dealing with presidents of countries, heads of intelligence services, royalty, diplomats and others, but, like much of his work, it remains top secret.
Today, Roseman is semi-retired and lives in Woodstock, Vt. His new book, “You Want MORE? Money, Opportunity, Respect, Everyday Success. Here’s How to Get It!,” using his skills to show readers how to get the results they want or tackle everyday problems, was released in February.
His relationship with B’nai B’rith Inter-national goes back to his mother, Roselle, who felt very connected to the organization. His children Kimberly and Christina are involved as well, becoming the third generation to do so. Dave is most impressed by B’nai B’rith’s dedication to seniors, its charitable work abroad and its fight against anti-Semitism.
The Roseman family created the Edith “Pat” Wolfson Endowment Fund, named after his aunt. Interest from the fund goes to the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, which uses the money to aid victims of terror and their families.
“My heritage is very important to me,” said Roseman. “I plan to give to B’nai B’rith every year.” Every year, Roseman reads the letter describing how the family’s contribution helps Israeli families in need, giving him plenty of “nachas.”
On a recent trip to Israel, his daughter Kimberly met with Alan Schneider, the World Center’s director. There she learned more about the wonderful work that has been done in her family’s name. This meeting, of the Roseman family’s third generation involved with B’nai B’rith, gave him nachas as well.