Together with her mother, she survived three concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Christianstadt. (2001--her name Americanized "Ruth Kluger"),2 it had long been a literary sensation in Europe, reaping prestigious literature prizes and glowing commentaries from the hardest-to-please sources. My seven Hitler years were over. Of course, later on, no one wanted to hear about it, but that's a different story. I thought that very often: I have something to tell. She escaped with her mother in the closing months of the war, falling in among other German refugees. Children take whatever they experience for granted. We were already fleeing. Ruth Kluger is the author of the new memoir, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (The Feminist Press). Our new Spectrum News app is the most convenient way to get the stories that matter to you. But it seems to be a majority, or at least a strong and willful part of society, that is in favor of opening the gates and accepting others. Glendale Becomes First CA City to Recognize History as Sundown Town, Girlfriends Launch Investment Group to Build Wealth in Black Community, Growing Diversity With the LA Orchestra Fellowship, The Lost History of Robert Stewart, LAPD’s First Black Cop, California Consumer Do Not Sell My Personal Information. Death was normal. And I didn't even know that Auschwitz had been liberated. Ms. Klüger, you will be speaking in the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Wednesday in Berlin - the city from which the Nazis planned and ordered horrendous crimes against humanity. Her mother had lived long enough to develop a last love, with her great-granddaughter. I take sleeping pills now even though I have a comfortable mattress. The huge loss in my family was as if I had literally lost something, like an object that I could no longer find. Legal notice | “The gas chambers were working at full capacity,” she said in her speech all those years later. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. Together with her mother, she survived three concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Christianstadt. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. I am now 84 years old. If you want to take pictures with your smartphone and quickly share beautiful results, you need effective image editing tools. There was a time when Kluger and her mother were in different concentration camps. You do everything you can to pass the time. Privacy Policy | DW Digital tests the most popular apps. An ex-intelligence agent, le Carre knew his subject firsthand. As a professor of German studies, she has taught at Princeton, UC Irvine and in Göttingen, Germany. “That was the main reason why I was so pleased to accept your invitation and take advantage of this opportunity to speak about the atrocities of the past here, in this setting, in your capital city – in a country where a very different kind of example is being set with the seemingly understated and yet heroic words: ‘We can do it.’”, Holocaust Survivor and noted author Ruth Klüger, dead at 88 (Photo Courtesy of UC Irvine). Today, Klüger resides in Irvine, California. Klüger’s book was selected for distribution and discussion. Did the literature and poetry that you loved so much help you at all in the camps? The war was over. Even if it knows it's experiencing something unusual, the child thinks, at least I'll be able to talk about it later. Not surprisingly, these severe losses had a profound impact on Klüger’s life and the ghosts of her brother and father frequently appear in her writings. Two years after that, she was deported alongside her mother to Theresienstadt, where they were held until being sent to Auschwitz. But you can t condemn any mother for wanting to hold on to her child. Could you understand at the time what was happening? I can say a few religious words about remembrance and find closure with a sense of contentedness. That was a kind of survival aid. In September 1942 Ruth and her mother were forced to leave Vienna on one of the last transports to Theresienstadt, a ghetto in northwestern Czechoslovakia. It was at this time that Kluger and her mother escaped and fled to Bavaria. I've been thinking lately about how inconceivable it would be for me to be yanked out of my apartment and sent away by hostile authorities. In May 1944, when Kluger was 12 years old, she and her mother were herded onto a cattle car for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her father was a young doctor with a promising future, her mother "the daughter of a wealthy chemical engineer." Surviving was not normal. We pretended to be Germans fleeing the Russians, which was ironic because we actually wanted to get over to the Russians. In 1947, she immigrated to the US and studied at the University of California, Berkeley. You can find more information in our data protection declaration. “In many ways, Germans grappled with the Holocaust and their anti-Semitism, but I think she felt a lot of Germans hadn’t.”. A court has decided that an Amsterdam museum can keep a painting sold by the Lewenstein family during Nazi occupation, raising questions about art restitution. I always try to remember where I was on that day. The thought of sleeping in a bed with four other people! 'Landscapes of memory' is the story of Ruth's life. For me, the Hitler years were from the age of seven to 14, until 1945. From my German-Jewish perspective, that is something new. Perhaps redeemed.” IRVINE, Calif. — When Holocaust survivor and author Ruth Klüger addressed the German parliament in 2016, her remarks were stripped of rhetorician gesticulations or inflections. Both versions of her autobiography are comprised of four parts--Vienna, the camps (Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Christianstadt), Germany, New York--plus an epilogue. The dead are ashes scattered somewhere. Klüger, a professor emerita of German at UC Irvine, died October 5 at the age of 88. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been lobbying to welcome refugees, all along repeating the phrase “we can do it.”. I think I was fleeing. Two years after that, she was deported alongside her mother to Theresienstadt, where they were held until being sent to Auschwitz. Her mother had lived long enough to develop a last love, with her great-granddaughter. It was a time of horror during which Klüger survived hunger, forced labor, and the evils of Auschwitz. Big plans were made — then the pandemic came. That's why I gladly accepted the opportunity to speak here. | Mobile version, Bundestag (Germany's lower house of parliament). I recited poems. Holocaust Remembrance Day is pegged to the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945. Speech by Ruth Klüger on 27 January 2016 in remembrance of the victims of National Socialism . As far as that goes, we are all abnormal. On the other hand, I always ask myself how all those old women endured it back then. Her brother and father were murdered. It's important that this tremendous change has taken place. It was there a young woman whispered to her that she should lie to the officer. Originally from Vienna, Ruth Kluger spent a period of her childhood in Theresienstadt, the Nazi concentration camp located approximately 100 kilometers outside Prague, before being transported, like the majority of Theresienstadt’s inmates, to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The book, known as Weiter Leben: Eine Jugend in her mother tongue, was published in Germany in 1992. Today, she is impressed that Germany is welcoming refugees. SPIEGEL: How long did you and your mother stay in Vienna? In 1942, at the age of eleven, she was deported to the Nazi "family camp" Theresienstadt with her mother. Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. I see that so much has changed. In her memoir, Klüger wrote of an encounter with a German man who had been in the Hitler Youth. “Theresienstadt,” she writes in her autobiography, “was hunger and disease, a small military village of … (25.01.2016), Artists held in Nazi concentration camps documented the horror of torture and death in drawings and paintings. (25.01.2016), Speaking at the opening of a new exhibition, Chancellor Angela Merkel has emphasized the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. "Never again" is often an important part of commemoration. We use cookies to improve our service for you. Her hands remained clasped or folded, and her voice was even. It's not like millions of people were liberated there. They weren't even scattered by someone, they were thrown into a pit. I see new generations that are trying to make amends. Two years later, her father fled the city. Ruth Klüger, who survived the concentration camp in Auschwitz as a child and wrote a memoir about her time there, has died. That's exciting and I'm curious about experiencing that here. Kluger's story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust. There were also illegal transports to Palestine. Children can sleep or use the toilet anywhere, but old women sitting next to each other in the latrine! Ms. Kluger wrote about her life from the time she was a little girl in Vienna through the horrors of WWII to life after the war. At my mother's funeral, I had the feeling that it's important to bury the dead. But a funeral draws a line. They don't know any better. Kluger was born 70 years ago in Vienna. It was January 27, Germany’s day of remembrance for the Holocaust victims of the country’s last great war. Recounting her experience there, she challenged readers to “rearrange a … She returned to Vienna in 2008 for the city’s festival One Book One City, for which 100,000 copies of a chosen volume is distributed. “She just thought it was important to capture her story and present it to the Germans,” said John Smith, chair of the Department of European Languages and Studies. That feeling has changed over the past 10 to 15 years. Klüger and her mother ultimately survived by escaping from a death march. And the joy was immense, but it took a few days to really sink in. If you've been to a real burial, you'll notice the difference. Download it here. Ruth Klüger was born in Vienna in 1931. Nearly all his bestsellers have been made into blockbusters — hardly surprising, since his novels deliver page-turning suspense and complex espionage plots. And that it has now become a power for peace. "There were lots of tears in the interviews," says author Sarah Helm of her meetings with last survivors of the Nazis' only concentration camp for women, Ravensbrück. She grew up as the Nazis assumed power and overran Europe. They would move to two other camps (including Auschwitz-Birkenau) before the war ended. Along with her mother, Dr. Kluger was sent in 1942 to Theresienstadt, a camp-ghetto located near Prague. In the growing brutality of the war, Klüger remembered the poetry of her school lessons, repeating the words and rhythms in her head. I was seven years old when Hitler marched into Austria and from then on, life was completely different. In your childhood memoirs, "Weiter leben" (Keep living), you describe yourself as one who frequently moves out of apartments and cities, as someone on the run. Kluger's style is wry ("the muse of history has a way of cracking bad jokes at the expense of the Jews"), and she can shock readers with simple, honest admissions, such as her embarrassment, in the 1970s, when her mother asks unanswerable questions of a speaker about the death camps. When you speak with survivors, you notice that each one has a unique survival story. What is important for you to express in your speech in the Bundestag? By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. But it's not a bad choice because Auschwitz was a particularly destructive camp. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. I am impressed by the openness with which the government and, if I understand correctly, also a large portion of the population, are taking in refugees. The conductor talks with DW about life in amidst of the coronavirus. What does January 27 - the day Auschwitz was liberated in 1945 and International Holocaust Remembrance Day - mean to you personally? That hadn't been clear to me until then. Thanks to her mother's ingenuity and amazing luck, they were not gassed but managed to get transferred to a labour camp: it was her idea that 12-year-old Ruth should pretend she was 15 to be eligible. The acclaimed memoir, translated into more than 12 languages, was lauded by the Washington Post as "a book of surpassing, and at times brutal honesty." But I'm not so naïve to think that all Germans are obliging toward non-Germans. The winter of 1944/45 was the coldest of my life and was surely never forgotten by those who survived it in Europe. I am now 84 years old, but back then, I had not lived through many winters: I had just turned 13. © 2020 Deutsche Welle | Only her mother stands out, a shrewd paranoid who persisted into her 90s, outlasting two more husbands. Her daughter's feelings for her were always ambivalent -- perhaps more hate … By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. God knows it was not like that two or three generations ago. Ruth Klüger was born in Vienna in 1931. She was a little girl who lost her mother at a very early age, a loss which she felt keenly her entire life. But surviving under those circumstances is a coincidence. Although she and her husband, Pavel Brandeis, never had any children of their own, in Theresienstadt Friedl was finally able to give free rein to her maternal instincts, and to nurture, and teach hundreds of children who saw her as a surrogate mother. I appreciated her insights into the Holocust museums that exist today along with her … Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. Kluger and her mother were imprisoned at Theresienstadt concentration camp when she was 11 and later transferred to Auschwitz and then Gross-Rosen. The ritual has its place. How can you even sleep? “I owe her my life,” Klüger told parliament. Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. I am still getting used to that. It was there a young woman whispered to her that she should lie to the officer. Background Ruth Kluger was born on October 30, 1931, in Vienna, Austria. It was the last time she saw the young woman. After spending some time in Bavaria, the two eventually emigrated to the United States where … They were deported to Theresienstadt together, and from there later to Auschwitz. Ruth Klüger survived three Nazi concentration camps. Ruth Kluger was born in Vienna in 1931 and was only six years old in March 1938 when the Nazis marched in to "annex" Austria. In April 1945, the Americans marched into Straubing in Bavaria. Kluger's story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust. And you didn't have your own bathtub or toilet. When she went before parliament eight years later, she offered a snapshot of her life as an immigrant and refugee as the war in Syria displaced millions of people. She translated her story into English herself, publishing it in 2001. I knew so little about anything else. Her memory and life’s story are preserved in the speech, and her internationally bestselling memoir, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered. Many had already been gassed and others were on death marches. She arrived at UC Irvine in 1976, briefly leaving for Princeton from 1980-86, before her return to campus and her retirement in 1994. Her threats of abdication were rarely taken seriously; Maria Theresa believed that her recovery from smallpox in 1767 was a sign that God wished her to reign until death. Klüger, born in Vienna, Austria, in 1931, was just six-years-old when German troops arrived in the country. This, Smith said, is when Klüger’s love of German poetry gestated. Now, 100 of their works are on show in Berlin. Ruth Klüger is to speak in the German Bundestag. I know there are problems and large sections of the population that are resistant to taking a new attitude toward foreigners. Her father fled the city in 1940 and she and her mother were deported to Theresienstadt in September 1942. (Klüger, 2001) They reunited at a concentration camp named Christianstadt in Poland. Still Alive (2001) written by Ruth Klüger, is a memoir of her experiences growing up in Nazi-occupied Vienna and later in the concentration camps of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Christianstadt.However, as it's written by Klüger as a 70-year-old woman, the memoir goes beyond her experience as an inmate, chronicling her escape from Christianstadt's death march with her mother … Ruth Kluger is one of the child-survivors of the Holocaust. After the war Klüger studied in Regensburg and then in 1947 emigrated with her mother to the United States, where she graduated from Hunter College and went on to earn a Ph.D. in German from Berkeley. Those who were left were those in the sick barracks who had reason to believe they wouldn't survive. She said the Nazis' brutalities were part of Germany's common memory. When the camp was invaded, everyone was forced to relocate. (25.01.2016). She was 12-years-old, half-starved and convinced an SS officer she was 15, the cutoff for labor. Is that still the case? Contact “I am one of the many onlookers whose response to this has shifted from bemusement to admiration,” she said. How important is it to commemorate those who were brutally murdered by the Nazis? Both emigrated to the United States in 1947, where Klüger attended Hunter College in New York City before earning her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. It was in Joseph's interest that she remained sovereign, for he often blamed her for his failures and thus avoided taking on the responsibilities of a monarch. With Germany's harder coronavirus lockdown in place, the Berlin International Film Festival plans massive changes for its upcoming edition. You were only 11 years old when you were sent to Theresienstadt. The country, divided by the Berlin Wall until 1990, was reunifying. As a child, you spent time in three concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Christianstadt, a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen. This Remembrance Day has been chosen randomly. 2020 is Beethoven’s anniversary year. “More than 90 years between them,” Dr. Kluger wrote, “but whenever they were together, chatting and touching, they met in a present that miraculously stood still for them, time frozen in space made human. How does it feel for you to be here? Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. “The gas chambers were working at full capacity,” she said in her speech all those years later. Check against delivery. My mother lived until she was very old, and she died in Los Angeles. Her breakthrough as an author came in 1992 with "Weiter leben" (Keep living). But that's not the case for Holocaust survivors. It's very unusual that this Remembrance Day is observed year after year and that a nation is working through the crimes it has committed, rather than what might have been won on the battle field. That this used to be a fantastic country, not just concerning Jews, but also otherwise. I enjoy being at home, in a nice apartment with a cat. News Holocaust survivor and author Ruth Klüger dies at 88. Ruth Klüger is a writer and university professor. Situations were described with very little emotion, which is why it reminded me of a textbook. This week: "InstaLab for iOS & Android". Klüger speaks to DW about Auschwitz, getting older and her speech in the German Bundestag. Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. Klüger agreed, ending her speech in Berlin in support of Merkel’s policy, the final four words the borrowed language of the country’s head of state. I imagine what it would be like if I had to go to a concentration camp now, and that's a devastating thought. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. Are obliging toward non-Germans I 'm curious about experiencing that here Irvine, died October at... 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