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Obituaries : PASSINGS

Henry Rosmarin; Musical Skill Helped Him Survive Holocaust

August 31, 2001

Henry Rosmarin, 75, a Holocaust survivor who mesmerized audiences with his harmonica playing and stories of his imprisonment, died of cancer Tuesday in Van Nuys.

Born in Poland, Rosmarin was 17 when he was captured by the Nazis and sent to a German concentration camp at Dyhernfurth. His life was saved by a harmonica, on which he had learned to play classical compositions when he was a boy. A commandant who was fond of music ordered him to play and was sufficiently satisfied with what he heard to assign Rosmarin to the kitchen for the duration of his imprisonment. His duties included playing dinner music every night in the guards' mess hall.

He survived two death marches before Soviet troops liberated him in May 1945. He immigrated to the United States three years later and worked as a salesman in Los Angeles until retiring 10 years ago.

He became a volunteer with Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and began speaking about his wartime experiences to schools and other groups. He was profiled in The Times in May after students from Beverly Hills High School presented him with a harmonica inscribed "To our adopted Grandpa."

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