Nazi Concentration Camp Survivor Leopold Engleitner: A 107-Year-Old Eyewitness Tells His Story
Why would a man faced with death in three Nazi concentration camps not sign a document granting him his freedom?
This is the true story of Leopold Engleitner. A seemingly ordinary man who was given the choice between life or death, he found the extraordinary courage to stand by his conscience.
Refusing to take up arms in support of Nazi aggression and to salute “Heil Hitler,” his uncompromising stand put him and thousands of other Jehovah’s Witnesses directly in the crosshairs of the Third Reich. Hitler personally proclaimed: “This brood will be exterminated in Germany!
Like a “ladder” lowered into the “lions’ den” to which he was condemned, he was given a way out by the Nazis: in exchange for his freedom he was offered a document requiring him to renounce his faith and swear allegiance to Hitler. This—he refused.
After surviving Buchenwald, Niederhagen, and Ravensbrück concentration camps, he weighed less than sixty-two pounds, but his will remained unbroken.
Spotlighted with the perspective of others who also suffered, such as Renée Firestone, a Jewish Auschwitz survivor, and Gottlieb Bernhardt (former SS bodyguard of Adolf Hitler), who himself faced a crisis of conscience, Leopold’s story resonates with the power of conviction and hope.
If not for a chance meeting with Bernhard Rammerstorfer, Leopold would have disappeared into the shadowed subtext of history; instead an enduring friendship formed between two men separated by more than sixty years and two World Wars.
Together, they travelled more than 95,000 miles around the world promoting peace and tolerance. Their lectures have taken them to Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, UCLA and Georgetown Universities, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Library of Congress, as well as other noted institutions throughout the United States, Europe, and the Russian Federation.
Total Running Time: 40 mins.
Picture Format: 16:9
Producer: Bernhard Rammerstorfer
Co-Producer: A. Ferenc Gutai
Directors: Bernhard Rammerstorfer & A. Ferenc Gutai
Script: Bernhard Rammerstorfer & A. Ferenc Gutai
Based on the book “Unbroken Will” by Bernhard Rammerstorfer
Narrator: Frederic G. Fuss
Voice of Leopold Engleitner: Gordon Piedesack