web analytics
January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The IAF reportedly hit a Syrian military target in Damascus around midnight.
IDF Retaliates Against Syrian Military Targets, Sets Off Rocket Alarms on the Golan
Latest News Stories
The IAF reportedly hit a Syrian military target in Damascus around midnight.

1:05 AM Syrian Media reports sites Israeli forces targeted belonged to Assad regime forces, including “Brigade 90.” Multiple sites targeted, including base near Khan Arnabah, and west Damascus. 12:54 AM No rockets were found on the Golan. It is believed that the rocket siren went off on the Golan in response to the IAF attack […]

Israel Police deployed inside arrival hall of Ben Gurion International Airport. (archive)

PM Netanyahu says it “could be the right thing to do,” to appoint a female chief of police in Israel. Maybe “it’s time.”

israel polls

Eli Yishai’s Yachad passing the electoral threshold is enough to change the game back.

ISIS executioner flanked by Kenji Goto and recently-beheaded terror victim Haruna Yukawa prior to his demise.

Two hostages, one each from Japan and Jordan, may die in the next 24 hours, ISIS warns.

The united Arab list is enough to shift the balance of power.

It was supposed to be the “historic snowstorm of the past half-century.” But in NYC it just didn’t happen that way.

UPDATE: No press conference was held, but the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, sent out a message on social media that “no decision” has yet been “made by Army leadership with respect to Sgt. Bergdahl’s case. The process will be respected.” In other words, they have not yet released their conclusion for public consumption. […]

The former editor-in-chief of Haaretz passed away at age 67 in Jerusalem.

The two rockets fired from Syria that exploded in Israel’s Golan Heights at 1 PM today signifies a new peak in tensions being felt in Israel’s northern borders.

BBC: “Our one big question this morning: Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?”

Visitors are invited to return to Mount Hermon Ski Resort after a double rocket attack sent officials to evacuate hundreds of people earlier in the day.

As usual, there is a big gap between what Arab countries promise and what they deliver.

An IDF soldier at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem. Tuesday, January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27, 1945 the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet forces.

The “Ugly Israeli” has taken its form in six idiot thugs who beat a Druze student, who served in the IDF, because he was speaking Arabic. A Jerusalem court was told the gang of Jews attacked the music student at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. The victim, identified as Tommy Hasson, served in the […]

President Obama is sending Jack Lew, the first Orthodox Jewish Treasury Secretary to the commemoration. Secretary Lew will be leading a delegation of State Department officials and Auschwitz survivors.

Two missiles exploded in the northern Golan Heights Tuesday afternoon, and the IDF has returned artillery fire into Syrian territory. The army is trying to determine where the missiles landed. It is not known if the missiles were misfired or were aimed at Israel. Unconfirmed reports said four rockets were launched at Israel. Sirens sounded […]

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: