Gisi Fleischmann

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Gisi Fleischmann (1894 – 18 October 1944) was a Zionist activist and co-leader of one of the best known Holocaust era Jewish rescue group: the Bratislava Working Group. Fleischmann was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp.[1] The Working Group's other co-leader was Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl. Thanks to the efforts of the Working Group, which bribed German and Slovakian officials and paid negotiated ransom to the Germans, the mass deportation of Slovakian Jews was delayed for two years, from 1942 to 1944.

At Rabbi Weissmandl's initiative, the Working Group was also responsible for the ambitious but ill-fated Europa Plan which would have seen large numbers of European Jews rescued from the Nazi and Fascist murderers. An agreement was negotiated with the Nazis in late 1942 and one to two million dollars ransom was required to stop most transports. The Germans asked for a 10% down payment.[2] As part of Gisi Fleischmann's duties, she met several times in Hungary with Jewish leaders, and also attempted to enlist support from Sally Mayer, the Swiss representative of the JOINT (Joint Distribution Committee), and Hechalutz representatives in order to raise money to pay the ransom. Nothing came of it, reportedly because Sally Mayer was unwilling to provide the down-payment since currency transfer to Nazis was illegal. Another opinion is that Heinrich Himmler intervened in August 1943.[3][4] Unfortunately, the down payment was never made.[5]

The Working Group also played a central role in the distribution of the Auschwitz Report in spring of 1944 written by Slovakian Jews Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler.[6] Rabbi Weissmandl's version ultimately reached George Mantello in Switzerland via Budapest. He immediately published the report's summary. That triggered a major Swiss grass-roots protest in the Swiss press, churches and streets. It was a major factor leading to President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and others threatening Hungary's Fascist regent Horthy with post-war retribution if he did not immediately stop the transports. This significantly influenced Horthy to stop the transports.[7] At the time, about 12,000 Jews per day were transported from Hungary to Auschwitz. Consequently, Raoul Wallenberg was able to go to Budapest, where he and diplomats like Carl Lutz, Angelo Rotta, and others rescued large numbers of Jews.


  1. ^ Segev, Tom (2000). The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust. Macmillan Publishers. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-8050-6660-9. 
  2. ^ Bauer, Yehuda (1996). Jews for Sale? Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945. Yale University Press.
  3. ^ Bauer 1994, pp. 79–90; for Grossplan, p. 99; for Himmler, p. 100.
  4. ^ Prominent Members of the Working Group, The Story of the Jewish Community in Bratislava, Yad Vashem. Retrieved 22 December 2013
  5. ^ Kranzler, David Thy Brother's Blood and Fuchs, Abraham The Unheeded Cry.
  6. ^ Rudolf Vrba Wikipedia
  7. ^ Kranzler, David (2001). The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador, and Switzerland's Finest Hour. Syracuse University Press.


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