Austrian Holocaust survivor “Mrs. Gertrude” dies at 94
BERLIN (AP) – Holocaust survivor Gertrude Pressburger, who rose to fame during Austria’s 2016 presidential campaign with a video message in which “Ms. Gertrude” warns of extreme hatred and exclusion right, died at the age of 94.
Pressburger died of a long illness on Friday, her family told Austrian news agency APA on Saturday.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen tweeted that “The death of Gertrude Pressburger fills me with deep sadness … Ms. Pressburger had the courage to share her story as a Holocaust survivor. She had the courage to defend her opinion. To get to the facts. To tell the truth.
Pressburger was born and raised in Vienna, the daughter of a carpenter. His Jewish family converted to Catholicism in the early 1930s, but that did not prevent them from being persecuted by the Nazis after Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938.
After her father was arrested and tortured by the Nazi Gestapo secret police for suspected political activities, the family was able to flee to Yugoslavia and later to Italy, the APA reported.
In 1944, the family was captured and deported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland, where their mother and two younger brothers were murdered. His father was also killed by the Nazis.
Pressburger returned to Vienna after the war, but initially did not speak of her horrific suffering during the Holocaust. Eventually, she decided to talk about the Holocaust and the anti-Semitic experiences she had in post-war Austria.
“I did not come back to Vienna to be oppressed again. I swear to myself that I won’t take anything anymore. I’m going to fight with my mouth, ”APA said.
Pressburger also published a memoir which she co-wrote with author Marlene Groihofer. In the book “Gelebt, Erlebt, Ueberlebt” or “Lived, Lived, Survived”, she described the arrival of her family in Auschwitz in 1944.
Her mother and the two brothers were sent in a truck. Gertrude herself was sent off in another direction, and she also quickly lost sight of her father. Pressburger was constantly looking for her family members in the death camp until a stranger approached her, showed her the smoke billowing from the chimneys behind the barracks, and told her that everyone had been taken away. in the truck have already been gassed and burned. It was then, Pressburger wrote, that she realized they had been murdered.
In 2016, Pressburger addressed Austria’s younger generation in an online video, warning of the humiliation and exclusion of minorities amid far-right rhetoric in the country’s presidential election. She called on young Austrians to go and vote. The video has been viewed and shared millions of times.
“I just said what I thought. That’s it. And it hit home. I never understood why, ”she told APA afterwards.
Van der Bellen, who belongs to the Green Party, later said he was sure his video call had some influence on the election outcome, which saw him narrowly win only after another election against the candidate far-right Freedom Party Norbert Hofer.
“We will never know for sure, but that it had an impact, that is to say an effect, and especially on young and very young, I am convinced,” said Van der Bellen.