With Trude Simonsohn, an honorary citizen of the city of Frankfurt since 2016, a tall woman and one of the last significant contemporary witnesses of the Holocaust died at the age of 100.

Generations of young people in the Main metropolis and in the Rhine-Main area felt and suffered for Simonsohn when she went to school when she talked about her life and survival.

Because this witness to terror and murder never routinely reeled off a lecture. Rather, she told of her arrest as a young Zionist activist in Czechoslovakia, the bleak days in prison in Olomouc in Moravia, her transfer to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and finally her deportation to Auschwitz, as if all of this had happened to her a few days or weeks ago. In fact, Simonsohn lived through all of these events over and over again while she reported in school classes and in front of youth groups. That's why she looked so authentic and convincing.

She could not tell her audience exactly how she fared in Auschwitz.

She only remembered Doctor Mengele, who selected the newcomers, the music of the Auschwitz orchestra during the hour-long roll call, and the smoking chimney of the crematorium.

All other incidents were erased.

Her soul had passed out, so she explained in retrospect her memory loss.

The great love in Theresienstadt

“I was a happy child.” This is how the memories Trude Simonsohn wrote down in 2013 begin.

The girl from Olomouc, the sheltered dream child of an enlightened Jewish family, would probably have become a happy woman, perhaps a doctor, had it not been for the Nazi reign of terror over her country.

Despite all the misfortunes, Trude Gutmann, as she was called back then, has always experienced good things. A fellow prisoner read from her hand in prison and predicted a great love for her. In Theresienstadt she actually met this great love in the form of Bertold Simonsohn. And her mother saw her there again. She experienced the greatest happiness in all misfortunes after her liberation, when she met her husband again, who had also survived Auschwitz. Her parents, on the other hand, hadn't made it: the mother was murdered in Auschwitz, her father died in Dachau from the rigors of imprisonment.

It took Trude Simonsohn a lot of energy to move to Hamburg in 1951 from Switzerland, where she had found a safe place to stay after the end of the war.

She did it for the sake of her husband, who was asked by the local Jewish community to come to the Hanseatic city to look after survivors who had no relatives.

Simonsohn often said that she and her husband only moved among a small group of survivors and resistance fighters there in Hamburg because they would not have trusted normal Germans.

This initially continued in Frankfurt, where she moved in 1955 with her husband, who established the “Central Welfare Office for Jews in Germany” there.