Women of the Third Reich ~Page 5

Women of the Third Reich ~Page 5


Edith Hahn Beer

Edith Hahn Beer

(January 24, 1914 - March 17, 2009) was an Austrian Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by hiding her Jewish identity and marrying a Nazi officer.

Early life and education

Hahn was one of three daughters born to Klothilde and Leopold Hahn. Her parents owned and ran a restaurant.(Early into the war, Leopold Hahn died while working at a famous Hotel as the restaurant manager in the Alps.)

Although uncommon for a girl in that time to attend high school, her professor persuaded her father to give in and he sent her to high school. She continued her studies at university and was studying law at the time of the Anschluss, when she was forced to leave school because she was Jewish.

World War II

In 1939, Hahn and her mother were sent to the ghetto in Vienna. They were separated in April 1941, when Hahn was sent to an asparagus plantation in OsterburgGermany and then to a box factory in Aschersleben. Her mother had been deported to Poland two weeks before Hahn was able to return to Vienna in 1942. With duplicate copies of a Christian friend's identity papers, she went to Munich.

In Munich, she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who sought her hand in marriage, and volunteered as a German Red Cross nurse. The couple lived together in Brandenburg and married to legitimize the impending birth of their daughter, Angelika, born in 1944. Vetter was sent to a Siberian labor camp in March 1945.

Later life

Following the war, she used her long-hidden Jewish identity card to reclaim her true identity. The Allies' need for jurists called her law education into use and she was appointed as a judge in Brandenburg. Hahn pleaded with the Soviet occupying force to free Vetter until he was released in 1947, but their marriage ended shortly afterward. Vetter died in 2002.

Pressed by the authorities to work as an informer, she fled with her daughter to London, where her sisters settled after they sought refuge in Israel at the onset of the war. Hahn worked as a housemaid and a corset designer. She married Fred Beer, a Jewish jewellery merchant, in 1957 and remained married until his death in 1984. After his death, she moved to Netanya, Israel.

In December 1997, a collection of Hahn's personal papers sold at auction for $169,250. The collection, known as the Edith Hahn Archive, was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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