Käthe Leichter

Käthe Leichter, born on 8-20-1895, studied political science at first in her home town of Vienna. As a woman, she was not allowed to take the finals and so she transferred to Heidelberg in the autumn of 1917 where she joined a circle of active socialist students and graduated as well. As a pacifist and a sympathizer of the Russian October Revolution calling for action to be taken in Germany, the German authorities deport her. Since November of 1918, after the proclamation of the Austrian Republic, she is active in the Social Democratic Party and is especially involved with the rights of working women. As a Jew and prominent socialist, she is in peril following the German invasion of Austria, however, cannot decide whether to follow her husband into exile in Switzerland because of her mother and her children. She plans everyone's legal emigration but her plan is betrayed by a Gestapo informer, and on 5-30-1938, the planned day of departure, the Gestapo arrests her mother. When she informs Käthe Leichter over the telephone, Käthe hurries to her and allows herself to be arrested as well. Her sons can be brought into exile with the help of friends. Sentenced to imprisonment, she is not set free in January of 1940 but displaced to the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück. Here she must perform difficult work in road construction and load bricks onto ships. She is also as politically active as possible here, organizes illegal celebrations and writes a play with Hertha Breuer. In the course of the so-called Action 14 f 13, she is displaced - along with many others, particularly Jewish women - to Bernburg in January of 1942 and gassed.

Constanze Jaiser

Voices from Ravensbrück   © Pat Binder