Jacksonville granddaughter of Holocaust survivor starts remembrance jewelry line

Jacksonville granddaughter of Holocaust survivor starts remembrance jewelry line

Nearly half of Americans cannot name a single Holocaust concentration camp.

That's according to a survey done this year, which also found 80 percent of Americans have never visited a Holocaust museum.

As the number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling, Jacksonville millennial Dana Rogozinski has created a new way of keeping the conversation alive.

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Her grandmother Ella Rogozinski was 17 when she arrived at Auschwitz.

“We told them, ‘Can you tell us where we can find our parents? We came a couple days ago.’ So, one of the German ladies says, ‘See over there, that smoke? There.’ We didn’t understand... It took about a whole week to realize where the parents are. They were in the gas chamber,” said Ella Rogozinski during an interview with the USC Shoah Foundation in 1996. “I hope that we learn something from that war. There is still, still so much hate.”

After she was liberated from Auschwitz, she worked at Underwood’s Jewelers in Jacksonville for nearly 50 years.

The San Marco location still has her work bench and seat cushion at the shop.

So, it was only fitting that the next step of her legacy was created there.

It’s where Dana Rogozinski founded a line of Holocaust remembrance jewelry.

“This is the very first one. This is the one that Underwood’s helped me create,” said Dana Rogozinski, holding up her necklace.

It features the number that was tattooed on her grandmother’s arm at the concentration camp: A5674.

She named it the Jakob and Ella Legacy Collection, after her grandmother and grandfather, who was also a concentration camp survivor.

A portion of sales goes to Holocaust education and scholarships.

“I want these people to ask the question. And it is an uncomfortable conversation to have. And, you know, when someone asks you at the grocery store, what is that number? It’s like, well, it’s heavy but I feel like it’s important to tell,” said Dana Rogozinski.

Ella Rogozinski used to travel to schools and churches telling her story.

She made a big impression on Catholic priest father James O’Neal who now wears Ella and Jakob Rogozinski’s numbers around his neck.

“It’s important for us to remember. Because if we don’t, we may be forced to repeat what happened before,” said O’Neal.

But now dementia has stolen Ella Rogozinski’s ability to share her story.

"And it was at that point, really, that I felt something needs to be done," said her granddaughter.
As tattoos and memories fade, it's up to Dana Rogozinski's generation to prevent the tattoos from becoming just a series of numbers.