Faces of Resistance: Women in the Holocaust
Gisela (Gisi) Fleischmann (1894- 1944
Gisela Fleischmann was an active member of the Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO), the local branch of the America Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Jewish community in Slovakia. The minute that Nazis rose to power in Europe, Fleischmann devoted herself to caring for refugees and arranging for refugee children to immigrate to Palestine, including her two young daughters. She also helped many refugees immigrate to the then-peaceful Hungary.
When it became clear in early 1942 that Nazis intended to deport Slovakian Jews to Poland, Fleischmann became a leader of the Bratislava Working Group, an unofficial Jewish leadership organisation focused on rescue efforts, which bribed officials to establish work camps on Slovakian soil to prevent deportations to Poland. Additionally, this group planned to pay a ransom in order to stop the deportation of Jews. Fleischmann was tasked with mobilising financial resources during this period. She used previously established relationships from her previous community connections to achieve this end.
While the plan was never implemented, the Slovakian Uprising broke out, and the SS hunted down, arrested, and imprisoned a majority of the members of this group. Fleischmann refused attempts to rescue her, and was deported to Auschwitz on October 17th, 1944, where she was murdered. In a letter she wrote to her daughter Alice, she wrote: “As fate would have it, we cannot be together…You must bear the parting in this spirit because the Jewish People is above all personal suffering”.