web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Refugee Who Rescued Husband from Dachau, Dies at 111

Gisela Kohn Dollinger tricked death twice.
By:
Gisela Dollinger with her great-great-great-grandnieces.

Gisela Dollinger with her great-great-great-grandnieces.
Photo Credit: (Courtesy Carole Vogel)

Soon after Kristallnacht, when she was 36, Gisela Kohn Dollinger persuaded the Gestapo to release her husband from the Dachau concentration camp, and the two of them fled Austria for Shanghai, where she almost died of typhoid.

After that, death seemed to forget all about her — until last week, when Dollinger passed away peacefully at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital. She was 111 years old.

Dollinger’s passing came just weeks after Alice Herz-Sommer, a pianist and the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary who was believed to be the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, died at the comparatively young age of 110.

Known by her friends and family as “Gisa,” Dollinger was the youngest of 15 children. She was born in Baden-be-Wien, a Vienna suburb, on Aug. 30, 1902, according to her relatives.

Widowed in 1993 after more than 60 years of marriage, Dollinger never had children but leaves behind scores of nieces, nephews and their offspring in numerous countries, including the United States, Israel and England.

“To everyone in the family she was always Aunt Gisa or Tante Gisa,” recalled Dr. Mark Horowitz, a grand-nephew who lives in Manhattan.

Dollinger retained her full mental faculties and was able to remain in her New York apartment until the end, although in her final years her vision and hearing deteriorated — a source of frustration since reading, conversation and listening to music were her favorite activities.

Horowitz described his great-aunt as “well educated and well cultured,” a frequent theater and opera-goer who spoke several languages.

Carole Vogel, a great-great-niece who is the unofficial family historian, told how in 2005, at the age of 103, Dollinger returned to Austria for the first time since she and her husband, Bernard, had fled in December 1938.

She had been invited to speak at the rededication of the synagogue her father had helped found in the 1880s and decided to use the trip as an excuse for a family reunion. At least 22 family members came along.

“I don’t know how many 103-year-olds go on trans-Atlantic flights, but she did,” recalled Vogel, who attended the reunion.

During the trip, the centenarian guided family members around Baden-be-Wien, pointing out where family members and other Jews lived.

“She also pointed out the homes of the Nazis and their names,” Vogel said. “She’d say, ‘I went to school with her, and she married a Nazi.’ She had a phenomenal memory up until the end.”

Shortly after Kristallnacht, when her family-owned dry-goods store was destroyed and Bernard was deported to Dachau, Dollinger went to the Gestapo in Vienna — putting herself at risk — and asked for her husband’s release, arguing successfully that since he was not an Austrian citizen (he was Polish), he should not have been included in the roundup.

Some family members have speculated that her persuasion included a bribe, but Dollinger never mentioned that when recounting the story, Vogel said.

“She credited the release of her husband to the fact that someone had advised her to speak to a certain Gestapo officer who was known to be more open to reason and that she showed him a valid Polish passport belonging to Bernard,” Vogel explained, adding that “open to reason” might have meant bribes, because “with Gisa everything could be in the nuance.”

Upon his release, Bernard was told that if he did not leave Austria within two weeks he would be returned to the concentration camp. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, the couple managed to obtain two first-class tickets on a boat to Japanese-occupied China, one of the few places where Jews could easily obtain visas at the time.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “Refugee Who Rescued Husband from Dachau, Dies at 111”

  1. Ray Buchmann says:

    May she find her well deserved rest.

  2. she must have been a great lady with a lot of common sense!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat meet with security officials over Oct. 22 terror attack.
Netanyahu Convenes Top Brass in Jerusalem Over Terror Attack
Latest News Stories
Israeli car damaged by rock attack in September 2014. (archive)

Despite PM Netanyahu’s vow to “assert sovereignty” over all parts of Jerusalem, Arabs continue to carry out potentially lethal rock attacks.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat meet with security officials over Oct. 22 terror attack.

Israel’s prime minister and the mayor of Jerusalem met today with security brass over the terror attack that wounded 8 and killed a 3-month-old baby.

An IAF BOEING 707 fueling three F-15 aircraft in flight, facilitating long-range missions, such as those being planned against Iranian nuclear sites.

For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Boeing Aerospace and Defense has made a sale to Iran.

Equipment at an oil well. (illustrative only, file photo)

Syria’s once-lucrative oil wells dissolve under U.S.-led coalition air strikes targeting the ISIS terror organization.

In Lebanon, a man in his 20s suspected of being ill with the Ebola virus has been placed in quarantine at a Beirut hospital.

Israelis of all ages watched in fascination as the Hawaiian-born Japanese-Samoan former sumo star, Konishiki Yasokichi shared his moves during a special workshop for children in Jerusalem.

The Legal Forum for Israel calls on Transportation Minister Katz to amend the law and revoke drivers’ licenses of convicted terrorists.

Kerry still thinks Muslim terror in Israel is different from elsewhere.

This Friday, millions of Jews in 340 cities around the world will be ‘keeping it together.’ The 7th day. Shabbat.

After decades of using diesel-powered locomotives, Israel Railways is going “electric.”

The real news will be when the West wakes up before it won’t be able to wake up.

Were you on the plane? Let us know what really happened.

Terror? Of course not. The Arab driver lost control of his steam shovel after being prematurely shot.

The first intifada began with Ishmael 3,500 years ago and never ended.

The funeral for Chaye Zisel Braun began at midnight Wednesday night.

More Articles from JTA

The mortar, which hit Israel on Tuesday morning, did not cause any injuries or damage.

Leslie W., 48, and his partner Akiwa H., 56, are charged with having sold more than 88,000 pounds of non-kosher meat for a marked-up price.

New York State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz criticized the decision to not charge the suspect with a hate crime.

Former White House official Ron Klain has been tapped to coordinate the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

Even more shocking is that Jews insist on remaining in France.

Two Penn State students who pleaded guilty to spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti on a mostly Jewish fraternity house were sentenced to community service and probation. Eric Hyland, 20, was sentenced last week in Centre County Court to 200 hours of community service and two years’ probation, and was ordered to pay $6,000 restitution. Last month, Hayden […]

A Methodist who practices Buddhism, this will be the first time he portrays a Jew.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/refugee-who-rescued-husband-from-dachau-dies-at-111/2014/03/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: