Hilde Geisen (1924 - 2017)

Obituary
  • "I was blessed to know Hilde for more than 50 years through..."
    - Gershon Pressman
  • "I'm incredibly fortunate to have known Hilde most of my..."
    - Klaus Esser
  • "I only knew Hilde for a mere five years but during that..."
    - Alan Linn

Hilde Geisen

Our brave, cheerful and spirited Holocaust survivor died of heart failure on November 21, 2017. The world has lost an exceptional woman who endured evil without losing hope or compassion.

Hilde Geisen was born to Robert and Frieda Geisenheimer on May 28, 1924 in Cologne, Germany. A loving, caring extended family embraced Hilde until Hitler's deportation orders scattered her parents and many of her family to their deaths in various concentration camps.

Hilde was a teenager when her transport number was called to Terezin, Czechoslovakia, a Nazi concentration camp. She had carefully packed winter clothing but was denied it upon arrival. Her life was very hard: outdoor labor in the lumber yard and winter gardening in the bitter cold. She suffered greatly but survived due to the nurture of her "adopted moms" who gave her a warm winter coat and the will to survive. She was reassigned to work in the records office which protected her from sub-zero temperatures in winter. Most of her roommates as well as Terezin's teenagers were shipped to Auschwitz where they were immediately gassed!

Hilde's keen mind and recall astounded her friends. Each May 9th she joyfully recalled her liberation at Terezin by the Russian army. Many inmates died from overeating the abundant barley soup but Hilde and her adopted mom Omi prudently ate small bowls until their digestive system could handle more. She and Omi were sent to Deggendorf's Displaced Persons camp. Both applied to emigrate to Israel but Hilde's relationship to a distant cousin wasn't close enough to satisfy the British Mandate's strict laws. Omi was allowed to move to Israel while Hilde languished in Germany until mid-July 1947. Finally, permission was granted for Hilde to come to Eugene and join her uncle and aunt, Ludwig and Trude Kaufman. After a short time, Hilde began working in Kaufman Brothers Clothing Store on Willamette Street. She was a great asset to the business, made many buying trips to New York and managed several of their stores.

Hilde later went to Israel for three months when she joined Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America where she volunteered with the IDF and other places in need. Through the years, Hilde has kept in touch with fellow survivors, Kaufman Brothers employees, and family members. Temple Beth Israel has been blessed for many years by Hilde's volunteer efforts in the office. Her Celebration of Life will be Sunday, January 14, 2018, at 2:00 pm at Temple Beth Israel, 1175 E. 29th Ave., Eugene.

Hilda's presence will be greatly missed. We, her friends, are all challenged to continue her legacy of love, generosity, forgiveness and great joy!

Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Jan. 6, 2018
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