Roger’s first brush with danger came three weeks after his birth, in 1940 when Nazis occupied Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Willy, was a Polish national. Having worked in the diamond trade, he hollowed a toothbrush handle and filled it with diamonds – before he was arrested and deported to Birkenau.
Dina, Roger’s mother, searched for some way to save him. But when she learned that Nazis had come for her sister, Ann, her brother-in-law, Paul, and their 4-year old daughter, Régine, subsequently deporting them to Auschwitz, Dina fled on foot, with only a suitcase, Roger, and the toothbrush. They were caught and interned at Annecy, France. When trucks arrived to take inmates to the trains for deportation “to the East,” she again managed to escape. Similar events recurred numerous times. Following many coincidences and close calls, Roger’s courageous mother finally walked with him into Switzerland, just before his fourth birthday. A Swiss guard on the frontier lifted the barbed wire for them.
They lived in Switzerland until World War II ended and returned to Antwerp where Dina searched for their family. Dina’s gentile friend, Julienne, had rescued priceless family pictures and gave them to her. Roger is able to remember living in an attic, furnished only with a crate. Dina found work in a Home for Jewish Children where they lived until 1949, then immigrating to Israel. While living in Israel Roger served in the army and studied microbiology. In 1964, he continued his studies in America and ultimately settled in Richmond, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. Dr. Loria is a professor and researcher at the Medical College of Virginia.
Anna & Paul Gottlieb, Aunt & Uncle
Joseph Rogers, Grandfather
Margot & Wolf Loria, Parents
Rachel Loria, Aunt
Regine Rogers, Cousin
Roger at orphanage