Rozalija Marolt -
The below are articles written about Rozalija Marolt in the Daily Courier during her time in Europe.
Daily Courier 28 March 1944
Local Woman’s Mother held prisoner in Nazi Concentration Camp
A patient vigil was rewarded Saturday when, after three years of waiting for word from her mother in Yugoslavia, Mrs. Douglas Gemas of 105 West Cedar Avenue received a letter through the Red Cross that Mrs. Rozalija Marolt is a prisoner in an internment camp in Freiberg, Saxony Germany.
The letter, written in German was typed, but it bore the ink signature of Mrs. Marolt. Mrs. Leopold Schuler of East Cedar Avenue translated the epistle for Mrs. Gemas, the content of which stated the mother was “well as yet,” and was signed December 20, 1943.
The Red Cross has been trying to trace the whereabouts of Mrs. Marolt for two years, she was a former resident of Connellsville and several years ago had returned with her husband and family to Yugoslavia. The father died there and sensing the impending war, Mrs. Marolt sent her three daughters, Mrs. Gemas, Miss. Rose Marolt, a WAC at Fort Lewis, Washington, and Miss. Mary Jane, an employee of Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, back to Connellsville.
Mrs. Gemas’ husband, Petty Officer S/F, 2/c Douglas Gemas is with the U.S. Navy somewhere in the South Pacific. He enlisted November 28, 1942 and was formerly employed by Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, where his life is at present working in the engineering department.
Daily Courier 14 November 1947
MOTHER REJOINS CHILDREN HERE AFTER FOUR YEARS IN WAR CAMP, YUGOSLAVIAN PROPERTY IN RUINS
By Margaret Atkinson:
Thanksgiving will mean more to one mother in Connellsville than eating turkey, pumpkin pie and all the other festive goodness. It will mean sleeping in a comfortable bed, eating white bread, drinking wholesome milk, bathing in a gleaming white bathtub with hot water, having luxuries of heat, light and gas. More than that it will mean being surrounded by loved ones, living without constant fear, breathing once again the pure air of freedom.
In other words life is beginning over again for Mrs. Rozalija (Rosalla) Marolt, 52 year old mother of three girls living in Connellsville, who arrived here Sunday morning from her small farm in Leskovec pri Krskem, Yugoslavia. She never wants to return to her homeland, where she spent four years in prison camps, saw her home virtually demolished, her best fruit-bearing trees used for firewood and her neighbors and friends in suspicious terror of each other.
Mrs. Marolt, surprisingly young looking for having endured more than four years of living hell, is sturdy built. She is a charming, pleasant woman and extremely modest. she enjoys a good laugh and giggled girlishly several times while being interviewed. However, while talking of her harrowing experiences she betrayed some nervousness and, although speaking perfect English, lapsed at times to her mother tongue. At present her voice is reduced to a whisper as she developed a severe attach of laryngitis shortly after arriving here. Her eyes reveal shadows of past sadness mingled with happiness that she is again with her family.
Vincent Marolt, her husband, came to the United States in August 1922, and settled with his wife and two year old daughter, Angeline, in Wisconsin, later residing in Philippi, West Virginia, Blairsville, and Casparis, south of Connellsville. He was a blacksmith by trade. Falling in health, he decided to return to Yugoslavia about April, 1935. The Marolt’s were then the parents of three daughters, Angeline, 15, Rose, 12, and Mary Jane, 10 years old.
Two years after returning to his native soil, Mr. Marolt succumbed to a lingering illness. Shortly after his death Angeline, now Mrs. Douglas Gemas, returned to Connellsville and completed her high school training. On March 6, 1939, Rose and Mary Jane come here, partly because their mother feared for their safety as shadows of war gathered on the horizon and partly because she wanted them to become American citizens and have advantages that she, herself, felt she could not share at that time, being a property owner in Yugoslavia.
Then war became a reality. One by one Mrs. Marolt saw her friends and neighbors being taken to prison camps. Ironically enough on Armistice Day, 1941, two German soldiers came to her little farm home and at the point of a bayonet forced her to pack her few belongings and accompany them to a prison camp. During her internment, for four long years, Mrs. Marolt was confined in four such camps, one of which was practically destroyed during an air raid when 62 bombs fell on it. The imprisoned woman confided that “surely God was with us in that bombardment because not one prisoner was killed and in a village not far away about 3,000 Germans were killed.”
A seamstress, Mrs. Marolt was made to sew and repair clothing for prisoners and villagers and later she worked in a prison paper factory, making shell containers, etc. Her food was principally weak coffee and sour black bread with only one meal a day. Twice a week supper was served.
She stated, however, that some Germans were kind. One woman, who owned a store in the village, brought her a bit of flour and eggs and sometimes a bunch of flowers in return for the sewing Mrs. Marolt did for her. Another German frau, a friend of an officer in the camp, commissioned her to come to her home and sew, the compensation for which were a few good goose dinners. Notwithstanding, prisoners were all returned to the camps at night.
Double deck beds consisting of boards strewn with straw were the sleeping facilities. Men, women and children slept together.
Some died while in the camps, mostly aged persons and children, from undernourishment and dysentery. Mrs. Marolt twisted her hands and shuddered as she told of atrocities committed by some of the officers on children and women. She somehow escaped but the mental torture she endured was eloquent in her eyes.
Bomb shelters for Germans and officers in the prison camps were constructed of cement while shelters for the prisoners were gutters covered with straw. During one air raid Mrs. Marolt related that four Slovenian prisoners were unable to find shelter in the gutter provided them. They ran to the safer German shelter but were afraid that trespassing might cost them their lives. The prisoners huddled in a corner just inside the concrete haven and again as stated by Mrs. Marolt, “God was with them because the bomb hit in such a way that all the Germans were killed inside the shelter while the four Slovenians were spared.”
On May 6, 1945, she was released and returned to her home only to find all her furnishings gone, not even a bed left to sleep on. The electric fixtures and wiring were torn from the walls and destroyed. Fruit trees had been chopped down.
Mrs. Marolt, who left her farm and what remained of her home just about a week ago, arrived by plane in the United States 16 hours after taking off in Paris. She came to Greensburg from New York by train, arriving there at 8:25 o’clock Sunday morning, where she was met by her daughters.
She readily recognized her two older children but the youngest, now 22 years old, Mary Jane, employed at Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, she didn't know. Mary Jane was just 10 when her mother last saw her. But while being interviewed Mrs. Marolt was seen to affectionately grasp her “baby” daughter by the hand as though to make up for the past 12 years.
Rose Marolt, employed as a beauty operator in this city, and Mary Jane, are providing a home for their mother. Mrs. Marolt is proud of Rose because she was a WAC in the U.S. armed forces from 1943 until her discharge in 1945.
Mrs. Gemas, the oldest daughter, said Mrs. Marolt is endeavoring to adapt herself to new customs and new people although she jumps at the blast of whistles which sound like those at the prison camps. She said her mother doesn’t eat well because her diet was so limited during imprisonment that “she fills up quickly.”
She is fast becoming acquainted with her only grandchildren, Marsha Elaine and Douglas William Gemas, who toddle about their new-found grandmother with wonderment and affection.
With tear-glazed eyes Mrs. Marolt said in parting, “Please tell everyone I am so happy to be here.” This reporter desires to add “You can believe me, no truer words were ever spoken.”
Daily Courier 12 October 1956
“No Price High Enough to Pay for American Citizenship”
By Margaret Atkinson
A tall, pleasant-faced woman, nervously clutching a ten dollar bill in her hand, was riding in an elevator Tuesday to an upper floor of the Cleveland Courthouse. A man, watching her twist the money, said: “I see you are going to get rid of that $10.00.” She replied: “This money represents more than $ 10.00 to me – it means my life. No price is high enough for what I am going to get.”
That woman was Mrs. Tony Blazich of 545 Sherman St., Geneva, Ohio, formerly of Connellsville and Yugoslavia, who was on her way to receive her citizenship in the United States of America.
But behind the scenes of this episode, which me, who are natives of the United States, and who take for granted our citizenship, lies a dramatic and touching story.
Mrs. Blazich would tell you in her broken English how relieved she is now, as she had been in constant fear of having to return behind the Iron Curtain even though she is married to an American citizen.
She has only been Mrs. Blazich for the past five years. Prior to that name was Mrs. Vincent Marolt, a widow whose husband died almost twenty years before.
Mrs. Marolt and her late husband, natives of Yugoslavia, decided to seek greener pastures and hoped to have a new and richer life by coming to the United States, so in 1920 Mr. Marolt came to Wisconsin, leaving his wife and small daughter, Angeline, in their native land, hoping to bring them here later.
The dream came true because Mrs. Marolt and her daughter joined their husband and father in this country. Two other daughters were born to the family, Rose and Mary Jane, the former born in West Virginia and the other at Indiana, Pennsylvania.
Sometime later Mr. Marolt became a citizen of his adopted country.
In 1935, however, the little family group decided to return to Yugoslavia because Mr. Marolt was ailing and perhaps was homesick for his native soil. He passed away in August, 1937.
A month later his eldest daughter, Angeline, was returned to the United States through the efforts of a friend of the family, and because of a steam ship cancellation, which was transferred to the young lady.
Angeline came to Connellsville, where she lived with friends and secured employment at Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation.
Then came rumblings of war and in 1939 Mrs. Marolt was notified by the American Counsel that she should send her other two daughters, American citizens, to the United States. Mrs. Marolt, not affected by her late husband’s citizenship, was to remain behind in Yugoslavia.
There was a drawback; however, Rose and Mary Jane were unable to support themselves. In the meantime Angeline married Douglas Gemas (now residing in 549 East Gibson Avenue) and she sent for her sisters. When they arrived in Connellsville the girls were given a real home with Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Dunston in Lincoln Avenue and there they lived for many years.
But in 1941 Mrs. Marolt literally disappeared in thin air from her home in Leskovec, Yugoslavia. Her dear ones here repeatedly corresponded with her but a black and ominous curtain dropped. It was feared that she had perished at the hands of the Nazis.
Three years passed and in August, 1944 a message, written in German, was received by the Marolt daughters. It was joyful news but they couldn’t read a word of it. Angeline inquired of many people, asking who could translate the letter and finally found someone who would open the key to the cryptic message. Mrs. Leopold Schuler, now deceased, sat beside Angeline in the Schuler home and through her tears read the touching missive – that Mrs. Marolt was alive and well.
It was revealed later that Mrs. Marolt had been prisoner in a German concentration camp. She was confined there from 1941 – 1945. During the imprisonment she was afraid to tell “them” she had children in America. After she knew the prison officers better she asked if she could send a message to the United States. They replied that they would write the letter and she could sign it but she refused. For three years she debated writing to her children. When at last she wrote she was told that even if ill, she must tell her daughters “she was well and at home.” This, also, she refused to do, hence the long period in which the Marolt girls failed to hear from their mother.
The first message written was on American Red Cross stationery and contained the limited 25 words.
After her release from the prison camp in 1945 she returned to her Yugoslavian home. Mrs. Marolt realized that because her daughters were unable to support her and that she would become a public charge, it would be impossible to come to the United States.
Over here Angeline had a petition waiting to bring her mother to her but in the intervening years two of the required three signatures of it died and the papers were of no value.
Mrs. Marolt’s visa would have expired in 1947 and she had to get here before that time. Then the break came! She had a chance to come by plane. Traveling by train would have been suicide, she heard, because even with a passport and her visa, she would have been detained, searched and probably sent back to her home.
The courageous woman came by plane arriving in this country on November 9, 1947, a breath before the visa expired.
The remainder of the Yugoslavian woman’s story appeared in the Courier in 1947 when she came here to live with her daughters. It told of her frightening experiences while under the oppression of the Nazis, of her constant fear of reprisal and of being returned to her native land, now under Communistic rule.
In 1953, two years after marrying her present husband, Tony Blazich, the valiant women applied for citizenship but failed to pass the examination.
Last Tuesday she passed the test and now the happiest woman in the United States. No more fears and a full, happy life ahead of her with her husband, children and grandchildren.
Incidentally her daughter, Rose, now Mrs. Raymond Chapman of Fort Houston, Texas, served as a WAC during WWII. Mary Jane, who resides with her mother, is now Mrs. Will
Daily Courier 05 March 1965
Daily Courier 05 March 1965 “Land of the Free Puts Joy in her life”
Only through the continued efforts of her three daughters and their friends in this country was Mrs. Rozalija Marolt released to their protective custody.
I interviewed this admirable woman in the apartment of her two daughters, Rose and Mary Jane Marolt, in East Crawford Avenue, only several days after she arrived here from Yugoslavia. Another daughter, Mrs. Douglas (Angeline) Gemas, of this city, arranged for the interview.
How happy this little family group was! The girls hovered about their mother and when she faltered in her native tongue to express some thought, they hurriedly translated for her.
The story of the Marolt’s goes back to those trying times after World War One when Vinko Marolt emigrated with his wife, Rozalija, and tiny daughter, Angeline, from their native country, Yugoslavia, to a small town in West Virginia. There, Vinko found employment in the coal mines. Two more daughters were born to the couple, Rose and Mary Jane.
Whether the income was insufficient to support his family of five or whether the climate was bad for his health, I don’t know, but Vinko Marolt moved his clan to Casparis in Connellsville Township, where he worked in the stone quarry.