Hildegard (Paul) Schmidt(1913 - 2013)

EASTHAMPTON - Hilde (Paul) Schmidt, 99, passed away Jan. 3, 2013, in her home at the Lathrop Community in Easthampton.

Born the youngest of four children on April 18, 1913, in Berlin, Germany, Hilde's father was an Austrian bookbinder. While still a teenager, she became involved in the Socialist Youth movement, where she met her future husband, Erich. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, parts of the group came under suspicion for resistance activities; Hilde was imprisoned and interrogated for 15 months before she was released for lack of evidence. Thanks to her Austrian passport, in 1936 she was able to join Erich, who had already escaped to Switzerland.

The couple then moved to Paris, where they married and took part in the activities of the international Popular Front. After the Germans occupied France in June 1940, they were separated. Hilde was rounded up along with others and sent to the French concentration camp at Gurs. Thanks to the efforts of her husband and individuals associated with the American consulate, Hilde was released and joined Erich in Marseilles, where they were issued a Czechoslovakian passport and an entry visa into the U.S. Reaching Lisbon, Portugal, and the last boat to leave Europe, required crossing the Pyrénées on foot and avoiding police and patrols.

Hilde gave birth to a son, Henry, Jan. 1, 1943, in Boston before the family moved to New York City. Henry became an accomplished musician and a professor of German literature and drama at Ohio State University.

When Erich later had health problems, Hilde became a bilingual secretary at Mercedes Benz. The couple moved to a Lathrop Community home in Northampton, in 1990, where they both reveled in the natural beauty and wildlife.

Hilde Schmidt was an engaging, vivacious and playful person, who devoted her life to maintaining and nurturing her family through some of the most wrenching circumstances of the 20th century.

She is preceded in death by both her husband and son.

The Boucher-O'Brien Funeral Home is entrusted with her arrangements and a memorial is planned for the springtime.

Donations in Hilde's memory may be made to the Lathrop Community Inc., at 100 Bassett Brook Drive, Easthampton, MA 01027, or to the Trustees of Look Park.

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Funeral Home

Boucher-O'Brien Funeral Home
7 Pleasant Street Easthampton, MA 01027
(413) 527-0015

Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 8, 2013