Ruth Steindling/Claudia Erdheim
When Vilma Steindling is 8 years old, she arrives at the Jewish orphanage in the 19th district of Vienna. At age 16, she develops an interest in politics and joins the Young Communist League. In 1937, she and her partner Arthur Kreindel move to Paris, fleeing the fascist Federal State of Austria under Kurt Schuschnigg, which had outlawed the communist party and youth league.
Following Hilter’s occupation of France, Steindling becomes involved in so-called ‘women’s work’ within the Résistance. In 1942, she is compromised, imprisoned and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. She survives the death march to Ravensbrück, where she is later rescued by the Swedish Red Cross. In the autumn of 1945, Vilma returns to Vienna and learns her partner Arthur was murdered in Dachau. Vilma is left completely to her own devices – homeless and jobless. She seeks help from the only refuge she knows, the communist party, but is bitterly disappointed. As time passes, she begins to question her political leanings.
This book traces the life of a courageous woman who risks her life again and again for her ideals, and who finds her way back to life after grave trauma. Later in life, Vilma rarely spoke about the pain she endured. The authors touch on the personal impact these events have had on her children and grandchildren.