The letter changed everything. Before that she was his mother, but afterwards she took on a new persona – the brave and daring young Jewish woman in Vienna who did the impossible.
It unfolded like this – he was going through his deceased mother’s old files and papers, as is the case with many grown sons. He knew, of course, that she had been born in Austria, some 30 years before the arrival of the Nazis. He had photographs of her life with her twin sister – young women dressed in their finery, enjoying the social life of Vienna. But then there was the letter, an affidavit really, describing her interaction with one Rupert Pock, a chief officer with the Austrian Gestapo.
It seems that following the arrest of many friends and relatives, she had disguised herself as a Nazi nurse, marched boldly into police headquarters, and befriended Detective Pock. She had somehow managed to talk him into releasing 50 men from Dachau and Buchenwald! The letter was in the way of testimony during his war crimes trial following the end of the war. She described him as a man of “good Christian heart” who had released the prisoners at the risk of his own life. Based in part on her testimony, Rupert Pock was acquitted and returned to civilian life.
And so this intrepid young woman had managed not only to save Jewish prisoners, but the Nazi officer who released them as well! What a mother he found he had!
In honor of Martha Holzmann Deutscher, with thanks to K.W.
Martha Holzmann Deutscher, on the right, with her twin sister, Erna.