web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses Congress.
Netanyahu addresses the Joint Session of Congress
Latest News Stories
Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks to reporters with his wife at his side at Ben Gurion Airport Sunday morning.

He said his mission is “fateful, maybe even historic.”

Israel Air Force attack jet.

The report seems unbelievable, but the newspaper has an interesting track record.

Snow is uniting the American people, so to speak. An area in every one of the 50 states, including Hawaii, will see snow this week, according to the WeatherBell site. This week will be the first time since 2012 that even Florida will see snow. New York is expected to get another 3-4 inches today, […]

Congress gave Netanyahu a standing ovation when he spoke to them in 2011.

A link for the poll is provided below. Deadline is today.

On Thursday evening, students at the Orot Etzion Boys Elementary School in Efrat reenacted different Biblical scenes as part of an interactive live art/Torah exhibition for the month of Adar. Every floor, corner, class and even staircase of the school (think Jacob’s ladder) showed off exhibits and models the students put together by themselves. In […]

The Israeli decision came, according to al-Jarida, in response to U.S. and Iran secret talks—behind Israel’s back—over Iran’s nuclear program.

A proposed law would require the Senate to approve the deal. Obama threatens to veto it.

Free speech is cherished, but hate displays on Sacramento home quite disturbing.

Democrats did not sponsor but also did not try to block the resolution.

The Left-Right division remains almost the same, but a National Unity government is also feasible.

Kerry called Abbas about “financial viability” of the Palestinian Authority and efforts “to prevent a crisis.”

“I Respect the President Barak Obama.” That’s what he said. We don’t know what meant.

Three car accident near Beit Shemesh on Saturday evening. At least 10 injured.

On February 10, Nemtsov wrote in a news website, “I’m afraid Putin will kill me.”

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

More Articles from JTA

More than 20 cars and buildings in a Jewish community in north London were vandalized with swastikas. The Nazi symbol was drawn on approximately 27 cars in the Osbaldeston Road area of Stoke Newington on Sunday night, The Daily Mail reported. An unnamed 32-year-old man was arrested in connection with the vandalism Tuesday. The neighborhood […]

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind called on the Jewish community to attend the funeral of an assassinated New York police officer. “The brave men and women of the NYPD risk their lives every day to protect us. We value them and stand with them,” Hikind, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn, said in a statement […]

“Move Jew” scrawled on a Philadelphia home and slurs written on a synagogue and 10 garages in Chicago.

The Nazis nearly destroyed the 17th synagogue.

Cuba has “the largest pool of untapped baseball talent in the world, and Major League Baseball may tap and leave Cuba dry.

Argentina’s president Christina Fernandez has accepted an official Jewish godson for the first time in the country’s history to help counter legend of death to a seventh son. She described in seven tweets her meeting with her new godson, Yair Tawil, a member of a Chabad-Lubavitch family. He was adopted as a godson under a […]

A fundraising campaign started quietly by two first graders two years ago to help find a cure for a rare genetic disease just passed the $1 million mark.

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: