Rudolf Gelbard

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Rudolf Gelbard
Gelbard at the Burgtheater, Vienna in 2014
Born(1930-12-04)4 December 1930
Vienna, Austria
Died24 October 2018(2018-10-24) (aged 87)
Vienna, Austria
Known forHolocaust survivor
Political campaigner

Rudolf Gelbard (4 December 1930 – 24 October 2018)[1] was an Austrian Holocaust survivor and political campaigner against anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism. He lectured in schools and universities about his experiences during the Holocaust, and also appeared in a 2007 documentary film about his experiences.

Personal life[edit]

Rudolf Gelbard was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived in the Leopoldstadt district. His parents were Jewish.[2] After the Anschluss, in which Germany took control of Austria, Gelbard was excluded from his school because of his Jewish ancestry. Gelbard witnessed first-hand the Nazi persecution of the Jews during Kristallnacht.[3] In 1942, Gelbard and his parents were transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. 19 members of Gelbard's family died at Theresienstadt, but Gelbard survived because he was in the children's section of the camp.[3][4]

Gelbard was married twice. His daughter from his first marriage died in 1972, at the age of 17. His second marriage began in 1990, and lasted until his death.[5]


After his liberation from Theresienstadt concentration camp, Gelbard fought to oppose anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi activities. In 1946, he protested against anti-Semitic riots at the University of Vienna, and in 1955, he protested to prevent a proposed anti-Semitic lecture by Fritz Stüber [de]. In 1965, Gelbard was a witness to the death of Ernst Kirchweger.[4] He was a member of the Federation of Social Democratic Freedom Fighters, during which time he campaigned for education in schools about Nazi war crimes. He lectured in schools and universities about his personal experience of the Holocaust.[6][7][8] In 2017, SOS Mitmensch posted a video of Gelbard on Facebook. In the video, he was speaking out against the Freedom Party of Austria, due to its association with right-wing groups, and saying that such a party does not belong in the Austrian Government. The video received over 100,000 views.[9][10]

From 1954 to 1963, Gelbard worked for the Ministry of Social Affairs. He later worked as a merchant, before becoming editor of the Kurier in 1975. He worked for the Kurier from 1975 until 1990.[3][7] Gelbard was also a cultural officer for the Jewish Israelites in Austria.[6]

In 2007, Gelbard starred in a documentary film about his life. The film was produced by Kurt Brazda [de], and titled Der Mann auf dem Balkon, Rudolf Gelbard, KZ-Überlebender – Zeitzeuge – Homo Politicus (The Man on the Balcony' Rudolf Gelbard, Concentration camp survivor – eyewitness – Homo Politicus). The film focused on his childhood experiences of anti-Semitic persecution and his transportation to Theresienstadt. During the filming of the documentary, Gelbard visited Theresienstadt for the first time since his liberation in 1945.[11][12] In 2008, Walter Kohl [de] wrote a biography, Die dunklen Seiten des Planeten: Rudi Gelbard, der Kämpfer (The dark sides of the planet: Rudi Gelbard, the fighter), about Gelbard's life.[13] In his later years, Gelbard starred in a play The Last Witnesses.[14]



Gelbard died on 24 October 2018 in Vienna after a long illness. He was 87.[1][2][3][7] Speaking about Gelbard's death, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said that "Austria has lost an important witness of the Shoah, a vigilant warning voice against anti-Semitism and a committed fighter for democracy."[7][8] Gelbard was buried in the Vienna Central Cemetery in a tomb of honour provided by the City Council.[18]


  1. ^ a b Schmidt, Colette (24 October 2018). "Holocaust-Überlebender Rudolf Gelbard gestorben". Der Standard (in German). Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "NS-Opfer und Antifaschist Gelbard tot". ORF (in German). 24 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Holocaust-Überlebender Rudi Gelbard ist 87-jährig gestorben". Kurier (in German). 24 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b Zöchling, Christa (24 October 2018). "Rudolf Gelbard: Der letzte Kämpfer". Profil (in German). Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  5. ^ "RECHERCHEPLATTFORM: TRANSKRIPTIONEN UND ÜBERSETZUNGEN – Rudolf Gelbard" (PDF) (pdf) (in German). Free University of Berlin. 28 October 1997. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Werner Faymann ehrt Rudolf Gelbard" (in German). Oesta. 25 February 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d "Prominent Austrian Holocaust survivor Rudolf Gelbard dies". Ynetnews. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Prominent Austrian Holocaust survivor Rudolf Gelbard dies". The Washington Post. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  9. ^ Starzmann, Paul (3 November 2017). "Österreich: Holocaust-Überlebender warnt vor FPÖ und erntet Shit-Storm". Vorwärts. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  10. ^ "KZ-Überlebender warnt vor FPÖ und wird attackiert". OE24. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  11. ^ "DOSSIER: MÄRZ 1938" (PDF) (pdf) (in German). Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien. March 2008. p. 13. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  12. ^ "The Man on the Balcony' Rudolf Gelbard, Concentration camp survivor – eyewitness – Homo Politicus". National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  13. ^ Kohl, Walter (2008). Die dunklen Seiten des Planeten: Rudi Gelbard, der Kämpfer (in German). Franz Steinmaßl. ISBN 978-3-902427-56-4.
  14. ^ Spera, Danielle (24 October 2018). "Obituary for Rudolf Gelbard". Jewish Museum Vienna. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Ehrenzeichen für ehemalige Widerstandskämpfer" (in German). Vienna City. 21 September 2005. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Rede von Nationalratspräsidentin Doris Bures anlässlich der Verleihung der Victor-Adler-Plakette an Rudolf Gelbard im Parlament" (in German). Government of Austria. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Faymann/Bures: Rudolf Gelbard ist antifaschistisches Vorbild in Österreich" (in German). 15 February 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Death of Nazi and antifascist victims of Rudolf Gelbard". Naaju. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.