'TIPS' Rohrbach/Urfahr-Umgebung (Weekly newspaper in Upper Austria)
Witness of the time: Fate of resistance fighter Engleitner portrayed in word and film
The Tragic Tale of a Prisoner of Concentration Camp: International Recognition for the man from Niederwaldkirchen
NIEDERWALDKIRCHEN. For decades nobody wanted to hear about the life and suffering of Leopold Engleitner. He was born in 1905 in Strobl, his reputation was not good because he was a survivor of concentration camps and, in addition, he was a Jehovah's Witness. Bernhard Rammerstorfer, author and producer from Niederwaldkirchen, was paying attention. He published a book and produced a video about the life of Mr. Engleitner - and now attention is being paid at home and abroad to those two men from Upper Austria. The book "Nein statt Ja und Amen - Leopold Engleitner: Er ging einen anderen Weg" ("UNBROKEN WILL - The Extraordinary Courage of an Ordinary Man") has become a recognized historic and educational document on the fate of Nazi resistance fighters. Walter Manoschek, professor at the University of Vienna, comments: "The video documentation on Mr. Leopold Engleitner is one of the most impressive biographical records on video. Having done outstanding detailed research Mr. Rammerstorfer succeeded to portray with perfect craftsmanship the life of a human being that has lived the entire 20th century in full consciousness.
Life in Humiliation
The book and the video describe a life that was marked by a 4-year odyssey through three concentration camps and escape from the Nazi authorities. Shortly after the seizure of power by the National Socialists, the Gestapo started to persecute Jehovah's witnesses as enemies of the state because of their unconditional objection to serve in the military. "I was arrested by the Gestapo in April 1939 in Bad Ischl, in October I was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp" recalls the Nazi victim. There it was so terrible that the hair of very young prisoners turned grey within a few days. I thought I would not survive." Forced labor, abuses from which he still suffers today, hunger and the threat of death were part of his everyday life. Finally, in July 1943 Mr. Engleitner returned to his home weighing only 63 pounds. However, the Nazi military would not let go: shortly before the war ended he was drafted once again for the military. He escaped and hid in caves and cabins in the mountains of the Salzkammergut.
A witness of the time remarks
In spite of his tragic fate the former road construction worker remained a very positive human being. At universities, schools and monuments the 97-year old talks about his past to students with the intention of bringing this part of history to their attention. And he wants to pass on to them his axiom: "the highest ideals are to live a life of human dignity and to preserve the rights of others. It is worthwhile - even under the most distressing circumstances - to maintain those ideals."
The "absolute highlight" in his life was the opening of the National Socialist-Exhibit entitled "Forgotten Victims of the Nazi Regime" in Milan where he and Mr. Rammerstorfer were the guests of honor. There, for the first time in the Italian language, the video was presented to 400 enthusiastic attendees. "The reaction was overwhelming and I am very happy that Mr. Leopold Engleitner was privileged to experience this grand day in Milan," Mr. Rammerstorfer comments with joy. "I have been more than repaid for all the hard work on this project which is based solely on idealistic grounds, by the distinguished atmosphere at the Sforzesco Castle and the enthusiasm shown for the documentation."
last update: April 15, 2013