Friday, June 24

How an Auschwitz and Belsen survivor found help in old age – from an unexpected source | Holocaust

“Do you realize that you are talking to someone who is almost dead?” Evelyn Lipmann asked her daughter, Kate, just before an interview with him. Observer In the past week.

Yet very little about the 97-year-old woman’s wit and memory suggests that the end is imminent, and her life story shows that it would take a lot to kill her.

Was born Evelyn Guttmann In Vienna, he survived four Nazi camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, and walked home through the rubble of postwar Germany using just one page from a children’s atlas as a guide.

Three-quarters of a century after that feat, Lipmann is increasingly reliant on home care, but has been able to afford it and remain at his 64-year-old home on the south-west outskirts of London, due to a little-known German. funded scheme that supports Nazi victims.

If your daughter hadn’t seen a little ad about nine months ago in the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) magazine for the home care scheme manages the association, the family could now face difficult financial decisions.

“It’s quite extraordinary,” Kate said. “I thought that sounds too good to be true, but I thought ‘well, I’ll request it anyway.’

Now she said her mother is “more at ease with finances and definitely has less stress.” “My family always helped me,” Lipmann said. “But I don’t have to worry about money like I used to, so it has made a huge difference.”

AJR is concerned that there are hundreds of aging refugees from Nazism in the UK, the latest witnesses to the Holocaust, who could be suffering deprivation in old age because they and their families are unaware of the plan. “You could be looking for more than 1,000 people who might be eligible, but have not gone through the registry,” said Michael Newman, AJR CEO.

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He urged families with eligible relatives not to drop off the application until in-house caregivers are needed, as the approval and verification process takes months. “You can have fit, healthy and capable people in their 80s, and the idea of ​​signing up and going through a care application process is conceptually difficult to understand.” Newman said that, a few weeks ago, AJR was in a race against time to help alleviate the final weeks of a 95-year-old man who had arrived in Britain in the kindertransport Before the war. “There was an hour-by-hour effort trying to get into the system, so that it could benefit from a few hours of support.”

This year, the AJR received just over £ 10 million from the Claims Conference, established in 1951 to distribute German government funds to victims of the Nazis and seek the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust.

Of this year’s £ 10 million grant, £ 8.5 million goes to the home care scheme. Covid and winter have taken their toll on beneficiaries, but currently 325 remain, and many more could be benefiting.

Evelyn Lipmann after the war.
Evelyn Lipmann after the war. Photograph: Courtesy of Anthony Lipmann

After her needs were assessed, Lipmann received more than 65 hours a week of care and the cost of a cleaner for up to four hours a week. In addition to the German government funded home care plan, an Austrian funded plan pays for some other essential living costs.

Kate initially kept her request a secret, in case it was too good to be true. His mother agreed to the plan after she was reassured about how it was funded. “She really said: I don’t want to have anybody’s money in the UK where other people need it badly too. But if it is financed by the Austrians and the Germans, she would be more than happy to accept that financing, because it is a refund, ”said Kate.

UK local authorities provide financial support for the care of the elderly. It is resource tested (the maximum total assets allowed in England is £ 23,250) and while they are supposed to offer direct payments to help with home care at home, many councils are reluctant, despite the fact that which is often as affordable as a nursing home.

When granting home care hours, the AJR deducts those already provided by the local authority. Home care is more generous and quicker than any authority scheme.

“Through Homecare, and the other programs that we operate, thankfully we can provide more relief and faster,” Newman said.

The life of the Guttmann family in Vienna was broken after the Nazi annexation of Austria, the Anschluss, in March 1938. Lipmann was forced to leave school. The Nazis took over his father’s paint factory and forced the family out of their home. They were transferred to the Leopoldstadt district (the subject of a Tom Stoppard play last year) with other Jews. From there, they were deported to the Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia, then to Auschwitz, then to Bergen-Belsen.

Evelyn Lipmann in 1947.
Evelyn Lipmann in 1947. Photograph: Courtesy of Anthony Lipmann

“That was the first time I had a choice because the guards came and said, ‘You can go to a labor camp or go back to Belsen,’ and luckily I chose the labor camp. I thought that as long as we work, they will most likely keep us alive, ”Lipmann said.

Later, she and her mother were sent as slave labor to manufacture munitions in the Salzwedel camp, 140 km southeast of Hamburg, where they were finally freed by the 9th US Army separated from them upon arrival at Auschwitz. .

At the time of her release, Lipmann was suffering from typhoid fever and had to be treated for her health in a sanatorium before she and her mother could make the return journey to Austria.

“A German schoolgirl gave me a page from her atlas to give me an idea of ​​which way to go. I had to go south, south, always walking, occasionally taking a lift, ”he said.

Another year passed before two aunts, who had already found refuge in Britain, could arrange passage for Lipmann and his mother.

One of those aunts lived in Walton-on-Thames, and that’s where Lipmann still lives today in the house she moved into with her husband, Eric, when they were a young couple.

“The main thing is that I can stay at home with my family close by,” he said. “That is wonderful.”

Inquiries about the AJR home care plan You can contact [email protected], on the website, or al AJR, Winston House, 2 Dollis Park, London N3 1HF

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