Thursday, October 17, 2013
Born in Germany near the border to Switzerland, Fritz Ottenheimer was an adolescent when Hitler rose to power. Ottenheimer’s father, Ludwig, was a decorated World War I veteran, and the family helped smuggle about 400 Jews into Switzerland. Ludwig was arrested in the aftermath of Kristallnacht and held for a month at Dachau concentration camp before the family managed to emigrate to the United States in May 1939. Ottenheimer joined the U.S. Army following his high school graduation in New York City and served in the European theatre in 1945. As a soldier, he saw concentration camps immediately following the German surrender, and helped “de-Nazify” captured areas of the Third Reich. Ottenheimer wrote an autobiography, Escape and Return, (Cathedral Publishing), and works with the Holocaust Survivors Organization of Pittsburgh. He has returned to Germany several times to share his story. Ottenheimer has been a resident of Pittsburgh since 1950, where he retired from Westinghouse in 1987.
Pitt-Johnstown is proud to partner with the Johnstown Area Heritage Association on this lecture, which is the concluding event in the year-long Johnstown Jewish Heritage Project. This event is free and open to the public.