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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Austria’

Refugee Who Rescued Husband from Dachau, Dies at 111

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

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.

No Trial for Austrian Ex-Mayor who Said Jews Deserve Hanging

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

An Austrian ex-mayor who said journalists and Jews should be hanged will not stand trial for hate speech, prosecutors said.

A spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office of Krems an der Donau, a municipality located 35 miles east of Vienna, said that Karl Simlinger, a former mayor of the village of Gfohl, will not be tried because he made the statement to a crowd that was too small to justify indicting him for incitement to hate, the news site Heute.at reported on Monday.

Simlinger resigned as mayor in December after the media reported on statements he made during a town hall meeting.

“I don’t give a shit about asylum seekers, but the journalists are at fault. They should be hanged; they are like the Jews,” he was quoted as saying.

Simlinger at first denied making the comment before releasing a statement in which he confirmed making it. “It wholly runs contrary to my worldview,” he wrote in the statement, in which he said he would resign. “It was not my intention to cause offense, and I apologize unreservedly.”

For Whom the Bell Tolls? In Austria, For Hitler

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The Austrian government is trying to explain itself out of the embarrassment of having owned a castle that contains a bell with praise for Hitler, whose name is inscribed on the bell that has been rung for 80 years.

The government recently sold the castle, located in a rural farm area, and now the bell’s history has become known.

The castle and bell are located in the small village of Wolfpassing and was occupied by Soviet Red Army soldiers after the downfall of Hitler, but no one said a word about the bell’s praise of Hitler, which is a violation of Austrian law.

Beside Hitler’s name being inscribed on the bell, an inscription calls him “the unifier and Fuehrer of all Germans” who freed Austria “from the yoke of suppression by foreign elements and brought it home into the Great-German Reich.”

for good measure, there is a swastika on the bell, which Austrian officials either have overlooked for decades or simply looked away.

The village mayor claims that the local residents did not know about the bill’s inscription, a story that is a bit hard to swallow.

Now, everyone knows about following the sale of the castle, which could implicate the government for spreading Nazi ideology.

Economics Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner said that the government did know about the bell when it sold the castle not aware of the inscription, and the new owner has not said what he plans to do with the bell.

Hundreds of Jewish Gravestones Found in Vienna

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Headstones of hundreds of Jewish graves, which were buried to hide them from the Nazis, have been unearthed in Vienna, a discovery of “high historical value,” according to one local Jewish official.

Senior Jewish community official Raimund Fastenbauer told Fox News Wednesday that the significance of the discovery is on scale with that of the ancient Jewish cemetery in Prague, the oldest known graveyard of its kind and one city’s most visited tourist sites.

Some of the graves date back to the 16th century, and after the excavations, up to 800 stones are expected to be found.

Fastenbauer said the few Jews who still were in Vienna in 1943 hid the gravestones from the Nazis but were recently found during renovation of their original small cemetery.

Israel Demands UN Meet Their Obligations on the Golan

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Following the Syrian Rebel attack on the UN base at Quneitra on Thursday, that left a Philippine and an Indian Observer injured, Austria announced they are pulling out their UN Observers from the Golan mission. The pullout will happen within the month.

The Austrian Observers make up more than a third of the contingent, and have been one of the more important countries in the mission. Japan and Croatia already pulled out their people months ago. The UN is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to find replacement troops. Fiji said they might send troops.

Israel pointed out that, once again, the UN has proven unable to fulfill their mission.

Israel thanked the Austrians for their years of service as peacekeepers, but expressed regret at the decisions, and hoped that the border situation won’t escalate further as a result. Israel added that they expect the UN to meet their obligations, as per UN Security Council Resolution 350.

If the UN fails on the Golan, the buffer zone between Israel and Syria will disappear, and Israel could easily find themselves in a situation where they may need to fight the rebels, or move troops into the buffer zone on the Syrian side, something Israel does not want to have to do.

Minister Yuval Steinintz added, that the lesson is very clear, “In any peace agreement, Israel cannot rely on international forces, but only on IDF soldiers.” He added that South Lebanon, under the UN’s watch, now has 40,000 missiles embedded there pointed at Israel. The UN did nothing to stop it.

The UNDOF troops have been in place on the Golan since May 31, 1974, following the decision of UN Security Council Resolution 350. The observers were put into place as a result of Syria trying to recapture the Golan in 1973, after losing it in 1967, and following the increase in border attacks from Syria starting in March 1974.

Assad Retakes Quneitra Golan Crossing

Friday, June 7th, 2013

President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army has recaptured the Golan Heights crossing—the only crossing on the ceasefire border with Israel—in a setback for rebels, only one day after rebel forces had been forced out of the strategic town of Qusayr, AFP reports.

The capture of the town Qusayr, after weeks of bloody battles, leaves President Assad in a much improved position before a U.S.-Russia plan for direct peace talks with his opposition.

The rebels had been in control of the Quneitra Golan crossing for one day, flexing their muscles in this strategically as well as symbolically important spot, so close to IDF forces and also a short ride to Damascus. But that didn’t last long, and they were forced out.

An AFP correspondent said he could see tanks inside the area after Assad’s troops moved back in Thursday.

Both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Israeli army radio reported fierce fighting in Quneitra. Two peacekeepers, from India and the Philippines, suffered “minor injuries” in shelling, a UN peacekeeping spokesman said.

The clashes took place in very close proximity to the headquarters of a UN peacekeeping force, prompting Austria to announce it was bringing its troops home.

Vienna Hosts First European Jewish Choral Festival

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The Vienna Jewish Choir last weekend hosted the first European Jewish Choral Festival with a comprehensive repertoire of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Ladino songs, the European Jewish Press reported,

Hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish singers from 18 groups in Europe participated n the four-day event that drew approximately 1,500 spectators.

The festival, under the patronage of Austria’s Federal President, Heinz Fischer, is sponsored by the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Union and the Jewish Community of Vienna.

The singers took part in intensive workshops to increase cultural exchange, learn specifically about techniques of Jewish music under the guidance of renowned teachers and exchange views on their interpretations of Jewish music.

Roman Grinberg, who hosted the festival and who heads the Vienna Jewish Choir, founded in 1989, said it “brings together these many initiatives in Vienna to a great musical fireworks.”

The event is to become an annual festival, and Rome and Paris are scheduled to host the event in 2013 and 2014.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/vienna-hosts-first-european-jewish-choral-festival/2013/05/13/

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