Hertha Ligeti

Hertha Ligeti joined the communist resistance to destabilise the Wehrmacht.

Hertha Ligeti (born 11/11/1920 in Vienna) fled Austria in August 1938 because of the persecution of Jews. By then she had already spent two months in prison in Vienna. Her parents had already died so she fled to Belgium on her own, at the age of 18. Together with her peer Lotte Sontag, Hertha reached Belgium on foot via Aachen. In Austria she worked as a housewife in private homes. She no longer does this job in Belgium, but is supported by the Comité Matéoti en Secours populaire. Despite her young age, Hertha is politically committed, she was already a member of the Österreichischen Kommunistischen Jugendverbands (Austrian Communist Youth League) in Austria. In Belgium, too, she expresses her political views on the refugee issue, among others. In addition, she helps to spread communist propaganda. The political freedom that prevailed in Belgium was one of the reasons why Hertha chose Belgium when she fled from Austria. The two young women go and live in Hoogstraat in the Marolles. In 1939 Hertha and Lotte share a room in Voorspoedstraat in Molenbeek. During a house search communist magazines were found there. In 1941 Hertha and Lotte stayed for a few months in the castle of Bekkenvoort in Bomal. Hertha then moved to Herkoliersstraat in Koekelberg and subsequently to Bodegemstraat in Jette.

In May 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Belgium. Hertha joins the Österreichisches Freiheitsfront (Austrian Freedom Front) and together with Lotte Sontag and Marianne Bradt tries to destabilise the Wehrmacht and spread anti-Nazi propaganda. The three young women were involved in the illegal distribution of a clandestine anti-fascist pamphlet to soldiers: Die Wahrheit. The author of this pamphlet is philosopher and journalist Hans Maier, better known as Jean Améry. On 21 June Hertha is finally arrested and imprisoned in the Saint-Gilles prison, accused of “fomenting defeatism in the German army”. Her friends were arrested and locked up around the same time. Hertha, Lotte and Marianne were subjected to violent interrogations by the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst (Sipo-SD) in the Sint-Gillis prison. On 2 November 1943 the three young Jewish women were transferred to the Dossin Barracks. Here too, Hertha was locked up in a cell because of her acts of resistance and further interrogated violently. Finally, together with Lotte and Marianne, Hertha was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on transport XXIII on 15 January 1944. Hertha managed to survive the war.

Source: Laurence Schram: Dossin: wachtkamer van Auschwitz, Lannoo, 2018, 209-210.

Kaatje Langens