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BIOGRAPHY

Girone was born as Rose Raubvogel in Janów, Poland (then Russian Empire). Her family briefly lived in Vienna before relocating to Hamburg, Germany, and setting up a theatrical costume shop. Girone recalled sliding down the banisters of the two-storey building’s staircase, and also learning how to knit from one of her aunts.

In 1938, Girone married her first husband, Julius Mannheim, in an arranged marriage. The couple moved to Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland) later that year. Mannheim was shortly thereafter arrested during Kristallnacht and held in Buchenwald concentration camp. Girone witnessed the Nazis destroy her town, burn down her synagogue, and throw Jewish books on a bonfire.

Girone was eight months pregnant with her daughter Reha when she fled the city with her mother and uncle. In 1939, her cousin sent her a Chinese visa, and Girone used it to set her husband free and leave Nazi Germany a few weeks later to start their journey to Shanghai.

The month-long voyage to China saw Girone, her family, and all other Jews on board dine separately from non-Jewish passengers. When the family settled in, they had to trade linens and trinkets to find money to live on, eventually having to rely on relief agencies for monetary aid. Mannheim later found a job as a taxi driver, and Girone was talent-spotted by a Viennese-Jewish entrepreneur for her knitting, selling her creations and later started knitting sweaters to help support her family.

In 1947, the family were granted a visa to the United States. Girone hid cash inside her hand-knitted sweaters and took it on board the ship to San Francisco. The family then took the train to New York where Girone was reunited with her mother, brother, and grandmother. They lived in a hotel as part of a refugee settlement program, and Girone worked as a knitting instructor.

Girone and Mannheim divorced in 1948 due to his lack of motivation to find employment. She moved to Florida with her daughter and worked at The Sagamore, a luxury hotel and resort. She met and married Jack Girone in 1968 and they moved to Whitestone, Queens, New York. She opened her own knitting business in nearby Rego Park and later opened a second location in Forest Hills. She and her business partner later went their separate ways and ran a store each.

RECOGNITION

Girone was first recognised in 1996, when she was interviewed about her World War II experiences by the USC Shoah Foundation. Her 99th birthday was reported by a local news outlet, and her friend Dina Mor commissioned a painting of her at The Knitting Place for her 100th birthday.

Her 105th birthday was noted, as was every birthday since. Many reports describe her life story as a Holocaust survivor in vivid detail.

On 17 July 2023, following the death of 112-year-old Louise Levy, she became the oldest known living person in the U.S. state of New York. However, Girone’s age is yet to be validated by LongeviQuest.

ATTRIBUTION

GALLERY

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