Edith Hahn Beer
|Intro||Austrian Holocaust survivor|
|Birth||24 January 1914, Vienna, Austria|
|Death||17 March 2009, London, Greater London, London, England (aged 95 years)|
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. In June 1936, Leopold Hahn died while working at a hotel as the restaurant manager in the Alps.
Although it was uncommon for a girl of 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 the university 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 Osterburg, Germany and then to the Bestehorn 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 the identity papers of a Christian friend, Christa Denner, 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 an der Havel and married to legitimise the impending birth of their daughter, Angelika, born in 1944. Vetter became a prisoner-of-war and was sent to a Siberian labour camp in March 1945.
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 occupation authorities to free Vetter and 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 had sought refuge in Palestine 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 they 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 was sold at auction for $169,250. The collection, known as the Edith Hahn Archive, was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She died in 2009.
- The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust with Susan Dworkin (Little, Brown & Company, 1999)