Happy 100th birthday, Else Geismar-Pripis in Jerusalem!
Surviving the Holocaust by pure chance
Else Geismar was born in Giessen on 10 March 1923. Her parents Max and Hedwig
Geismar had moved from Breisach and Emmendingen to Weilburg/Lahn and led there
When anti-Jewish sentiment increased in 1932, Hedwig, Else and their younger brother Alfred moved to their mother’s hometown in Emmendingen.
After graduating from the Lessing School in Freiburg in 1937, the student from Giessen began an apprenticeship as a seamstress in a Jewish company in Emmendingen.
When the company had to close in 1938, Else Geismar moved to Cologne and worked there in a Jewish household until she was conscripted to forced labor in a factory in Cologne-Deutz at the end of 1939/beginning of 1940. Thus 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, because she contracted scarlet fever, she could not be deported and 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 there 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.
Else would never see her parents and her brother Alfred again. She was the only one of her family to survive the Holocaust.
More information about Else Geismar and her brother Alfred Geismar
Text from: History workshop of the Lessing Realschule Freiburg – forced school for Jewish children 1937-1940
Photo: Uri Pripis, December 2022
Congratulations personally and digitally
On March 10, 2023, Rosita Dienst-Demuth, founder of the history workshop at the Lessing Realschule Freiburg – forced school for Jewish children 1937-1940, and member of the board of the Blue House, personally conveyed the congratulations of all her friends and students to Else Geismar-Pripis for her 100th birthday in her apartment in Jerusalem. The Blue House team, together with students from the Middle East working group at the Walter-Eucken-Gymnasium in Freiburg and their teacher Sandra Butsch, as well as the former rector of the school, Hermann Reibold, are connected to the jubilarian in a zoom meeting.
Pupils of 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 telephone call with Else Geismar- Pripis (February 2018) and on a biography. The music was specially composed for the feature by Gunter Steudel, Cologne.