Else Geismar-Pripis survived the Holocaust by sheer coincidence.


Else Geismar was born in Gießen on March 10, 1923. Her parents Max and Hedwig Geismar had moved from Breisach and Emmendingen to Weilburg/Lahn and ran a business there. When anti-Jewish sentiment increased in 1932, Hedwig, Else and their younger brother Alfred moved to their mother’s hometown of Emmendingen.


After graduating from the Lessingschule in Freiburg in 1937, the student from Giessen began an apprenticeship as a seamstress in a Jewish company in Emmendingen. When this company had to close in 1938, Else Geismar moved to Cologne and worked in a Jewish children’s home, later in a Jewish household, until she was forced to work in a factory in Cologne-Deutz at the end of 1939/beginning of 1940. In this way she escaped the deportation of Baden Jews to Gurs in October 1940.


In August 1942 she was to be deported to Minsk, in Belarus, now occupied by Nazi Germany. However, she contracted scarlet fever, which put her back from deportation. She was nursed back to health in a rabbi’s house in Cologne. After her recovery, she was deported to Theresienstadt in September 1942. Her work in women’s tailoring saved her life. After the camp was liberated in May 1945, she was taken to the camp for “displaced persons” in Deggendorf, where she met her future husband. After the liberation, she lived in Switzerland until she left for Israel in August 1947. She would never see her parents or her brother Alfred again. She was the only one in her family to survive the Holocaust.


Text basis: Geschichtswerkstatt der Lessing-Realschule Freiburg – Zwangsschule für Jüdische Kinder 1937-1940


Photo: Uri Pripis, December 2022



Congratulations personally and digitally


One day before her 100th birthday, on March 9, 2023, Rosita Dienst-Demuth, founder of the history workshop at the Lessing-Realschule Freiburg – compulsory school for Jewish children 1937-1940, and member of the board of the Blue House Else Geismar-Pripis personally delivered the Congratulations to all friends and students in their home in Jerusalem.


The Blue House team, students from the Middle East working group at the Walter-Eucken-Gymnasium in Freiburg and her teacher Sandra Butsch, as well as the former rector of the school, Hermann Reibold, are connected to the jubilarian with many others in a zoom meeting.



Eyewitness Feature


Pupils from the Lise-Meitner-Gesamtschule in Cologne, together with Rosita Dienst-Demuth, traced the fate of Else Geismar-Pripis in an audio contribution. This resulted in a 10-minute eyewitness feature, based on a phone call with Else Geismar- Pripis (February 2018) and a biography. Music: Gunter Steudel, Cologne.


audio contribution

(please click on “Audio”)