Rose Zar, a Holocaust Survivor Who Hid in Plain Sight

The Fellowship  |  November 5, 2018

Rose Zar looking into the distance with a painting behind her.
Rose Zar

Writing at the New York Times, Melissa Eddy tells us how survivor Zar worked in the home of a Nazi commander – as well as saved the lives of Jewish orphans – and when she moved to the U.S. she shared her life story in her memoir, “In the Mouth of the Wolf.”

“He said you have to hide in the mouth of the wolf, under the officials’ nose,” Zar told the USC Shoah Foundation in 1996, “and watch that they don’t devour you.”

Although she had earned a teaching certificate before leaving home, Zar was forced to find menial jobs like cleaning the stairs in a hospital or peeling potatoes in the kitchen of the local SS headquarters in Krakow. To keep out of trouble, she learned to laugh at the crude, often anti-Semitic jokes told by the Polish women she worked with…

When an SS commander summoned her to his office for questioning, she felt certain that it was the end. She answered his queries, telling about her experience as a nurse and how she had learned to speak German fluently. Several days later, she was introduced to the commander’s wife. The encounter she had feared turned out to be a job interview. She spent the final years of the war as her father had advised, hiding in plain sight in the home of a Nazi commander as “Fräulein Wanda.”

…Decades later, she again drew on her father’s advice for the title of her memoir, “In the Mouth of the Wolf.” Written with Eric A. Kimmel and published in 1983, the book won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Book Award and is taught in schools across the United States.