How Post-World War II Kismet Brought a German-Jewish Refugee Into the Arms of a US Army Veteran Who Fought Against the Nazis
A unique American love story captured ABC News audiences on Friday — with the protagonists of the tale telling of the kismet that brought them together, five decades after World War II.
It’s the story of a Jewish US Army captain, Paul Rothman, who fought in the war to liberate Europe from Hitler, and Geraldine “Gerry” Rosen, a German Jew whose family blessedly escaped the Nazis mere days before Kristallnacht in 1938.
The couple, who finally met in 1990 — 50 years after nearly running into one another through various twists of fate — recounted the many coincidences that bound them together up until their first actual encounter.
These began as soon as Rosen and her immediate family arrived in New York, after paying a smuggler $2,000 to get them to America. A cousin then offered them a place to stay. That apartment, it would transpire years later, was in a building that Rothman occupied at some point.
Meanwhile, after returning home from the war, Rothman built a fabrics company, and soon became fast friends with Rosen’s brother, Eli, who worked with him in the business.
It was Eli who fixed them up on a blind date, after Rothman had divorced his previous wife. When he saw Rosen again a few weeks later at his office, where she had come to help her brother with a customer, he realized she was “the one.”
“Paul and I just clicked,” Rosen said. “He had his baggage and I had mine. He had an apartment three block from mine when we first met. He lived in my neighborhood all these years and I hadn’t really known it. But once we got together, everything just gelled.”
Rothman credited his military service for teaching him how to build relationships and treat everyone equally and with respect. He said, “It’s not about money or race,” but the values he holds that led him “eventually to my sweetheart, Gerry.”
“I just thank the lord above that we met each other and I ended up here after everything that happened earlier in life,” Rosen told ABC News. “My younger years were very difficult. He turned me around.”
“She’s the love of my life. What else is there to say,” Rothman said.