Wieth Irmgard

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Story of Rescue - Wieth Irmgard

Irmgard Wieth came to the occupied city of Lviv when it was captured by German forces in 1941, and met Cecylia Stern, a seamstress, and formerly a banker’s wife. When the Germans were preparing to murder the Jews of Lviv in late 1942, Cecylia and her ten-year-old daughter Lili were sheltered by Irmgard Wieth.

“Mum asked her again and again - Lili Stern-Pohlmann would recollect years later. - After the third time she said »yes« and took us to her apartment, which was in a building in the German quarter occupied by a high-ranking SS officers and the chief of the Ukrainian police.”

The apartment where Irmgard stayed belonged to a Gestapo officer, a zealous Nazi, who would vacation in Lviv. On one such occasion he spent nearly two weeks at the house not realizing the fugitives were hidden there.

After some time Cecylia returned to her parents in the ghetto, but Irmgard would not allow her to take Lili, and the girl stayed with Wieth. She learned German quickly, and soon enough, strangers thought she was a German child. These strangers included the ‘Butcher of Lviv’, Fritz Katzmann.

“He kissed children, picking them up; a normal man, a loving father. He sat us in his lap and stroked our hair,” as Lili recalls her meeting with the infamous commander.

Cecylia’s parents were killed during the liquidation of the ghetto in mid-1943. Cecylia herself returned to Wieth. She was met there by her daughter and two more Jewish fugitives.

In the summer of 1944, when the Soviet army was approaching and the Germans began to flee Lviv, Irmgard took her wards to Lviv cathedral, where they remained under the care of the Metropolitan of Lwów Andrzej Szeptycki, until the Red Army had claimed the city.