Obit of the Day: Oldest Concentration Camp Survivor
In 1939 Leopold Engleitner was given a choice by the Gestapo: renounce his beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness or be arrested. Mr. Engleitner chose the latter and would spend four years in three different Nazi concentration camps: Buchenwald, Niederhagen and Ravensbrueck.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were another groups besides Jews, homosexuals and gypsies (Roma) targeted by the Nazis for annihilation. Hitler, referring to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, declared "This brood will be exterminated in Germany." Not only conscientious objectors, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were especially infuriating to the Fuehrer because they refused to raise their arms and shout "Heil, Hitler!" They considered it a form of idolatry.
Mr. Engleitner was released in 1943 after promising to serve as an agricultural laborer near his home in Austria. He was liberated by the U.S. army in 1946.
In 2012, director Bernhard Rammenstorfer released the documentary Ladder in the Lions’ Den (the ladder symbolizing the way out that Mr. Engleitner refused when he would not renounce his faith), which examined the choices Mr. Engleitner made. You can watch the trailer here.
Leopold Engleitner, the oldest survivor of the concentration camps, died on April 21, 2013 at the age of 107.
(Image of Leopold Engleitner from his arrest in 1939 is courtesy of digitaljournal.com)
Other Holocaust-related posts from OOTD:
Wilhelm Brasse - Official photographer of Auschwitz-Birkenau, while a prisoner
Rudolf Brazda - The last LBGT survivor of the Holocaust
Jack Dygola - Survived the Holocaust by pretending to be Catholic.
Devy Erlih - Saved from the Gestapo because of his talent with the violin
Klaas Faber - Dutch SS officer convicted of war crimes who escaped to Germany and received asylum
Rabbi Herschel Schachter - Army chaplain who helped liberate Buchenwald and evacuated 1000 orphans
Paula Zyto - One of a few survivors of a forced march in 1945