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Rose Van Thyn

Rozette L. "Rose" Van Thyn
Born (1921-09-19)September 19, 1921
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died June 26, 2010(2010-06-26) (aged 88)
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Louisiana, USA

Holocaust activist;

Religion Jewish

(1) Moses Lezer (died in concentration camp)

(2) Louis Van Thyn (married 1946-2008, his death)

Nico A. Van Thyn

Elsa A. Wellen

Rozette Lopes-Dias Van Thyn (September 19, 1921 – June 27, 2010), known as Rose Van Thyn, was a survivor of the World War II Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, who as a naturalized United States citizen residing in Shreveport, Louisiana, was involved for three decades in education about the Holocaust.

The Holocaust

In 1942, when the Nazis occupied Amsterdam, Netherlands, Rose and her family were taken to Auschwitz. They were placed on a railroad cattle car with nearly one hundred other people and two buckets, one for drinking, and one for waste. At Auschwitz, she underwent gruesome medical experiments. Later she was dispatched to Ravensbrueck and managed to survive a "death march" at the end of the war. She was liberated by American soldiers.[1]

Rose lost both parents, a sister, and her first husband, Mozes Lezer, in the death camps. She met a fellow survivor, Levie/Louis van Thijn (July 6, 1919 – August 27, 2008),[2] whose first wife, Estella Halverstad, had died in the Holocaust at Sobibor.[3] Rose and Louis married in Amsterdam in 1946. Nine years later, the Van Thijns and their two children, Nico and Elsa, immigrated to Shreveport, where the spelling of their name was changed to "Van Thyn". Their immigration was sponsored by the Shreveport Jewish Federation and the family of A.A. "Abe" Gilbert (1895–1966),[2] owner of a pipe supply company. After the mandatory five-year wait, Louis, Rose, and their children became U.S. citizens on May 23, 1961. For several decades, she related her life story before civic groups, churches, and schools throughout northwest Louisiana, often making a lasting impression on her listeners.[4]

Death and legacy

Van Thyn, who was a seamstress by occupation, died at the age of eighty-eight. Her body was donated to the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport. A memorial service was held on July 11, 2010, at Brown Memorial Chapel at Centenary College in Shreveport. She was honored with a plaque at the Centenary rose garden and a bench for her and her husband at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Centenary also has the Van Thyn Endowed Professorship Chair; LSU-S, the Rose and Louis Van Thyn Master of Liberal Arts Scholarship.

The Van Thyns' son, Nico (born June 16, 1947), is a 1969 journalism graduate of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston who was a sports writer/editor in Shreveport for two decades [5] and later a sports copy editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas.[6] He and his wife, Bea, reside in Fort Worth. The Van Thyns' daughter, Elsa A. Van Thyn (born June 20, 1951) is a social worker. She and her husband, Jim Wellen, reside in Voorhees, New Jersey. Louis and Rose were also survived by five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.[4]

Van Thyn was an Attaway Fellow in Civic Culture at Centenary College. In 2002, Centenary awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. In 2003, Louis and Rose Van Thyn were recognized for her civic support by the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She also received the Liberty Bell Award from the Shreveport Bar Association.[4]

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover expressed sorrow on Van Thyn's death: "It is a tremendous loss not just to Shreveport but to the entire world to know that someone who possessed the knowledge and experience and the history that she lived has now passed on."[7]

"Rose was the most remarkable human being you would ever meet in your life. She and Louis escaped horrors none of us could even imagine," said Ron Nierman, a family friend and grandson of Abe Gilbert.[7]

Nico Van Thyn describes his mother as "a very determined, very deep, very complex person. She loved to speak at schools and civic clubs for anyone who wanted to hear about her experiences. She felt like it was her mission to try to educate as many kids and people in general about the Holocaust. She wanted to teach them about why it happened and how it happened, what happened to her, and about racial and religious prejudice."[7]


  1. ^ "Holocaust survivor Rose Van Thyn passes away, June 27, 2010". Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ Genealogical page of Levie van Thijn
  4. ^ a b c "Obituary of Rose Van Thyn".  
  5. ^ "Louisiana Sports Writers Association: Prep Writer of the Year". Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Where are graduates our and what they are doing, T-Z". Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c "Holocaust survivor, community educator Rose Van Thyn passes away," Shreveport Times, June 27, 2010
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