My father Berthold Linder and his family sought refuge from Austria and were guided to Saint Martin Vésubie. My father, wife Gisella & baby Roland 8 months went along with his brother Willi, wife Rachel & son Raymond 2; his sister Frida, Robert (a dentist) & their daughter Karine 5.
In his book Condemned without Judgment1, my father tells of harrowing times leading up to a nightmare railroad ride to Auschwitz. As the Allies closed in, my father had to march many miles and ended up in Bergen Belsen, many got typhoid and died. One more week and he would have died. Only my father and his brother Willi survived. My father remarried after the war and I, George Linder, was born.
My father never talked about is his war stories even when I asked, he simply said, “you don’t want to know”. I was shocked when I read his book to learn about his suffering and losses, although he did not write his book as a victim, but rather a victor who conquered and survived, barely. He wrote his book at 80 years old because his grandson asked him what the number on his arm was for and because of the deniers.
Getting back to Saint Martin Vésubie, his time there was actually pleasant with nice people all around. The uncertainty was unnerving. The refugee community set him up to do laundry for the locals. My father was about 30 years old. He was athletic and ran a sports camp as well, which was well received. Bert and Willi also organized a musical and entertainment on Sunday afternoons since both could sing and play the guitar and mandolin. My father spoke highly of Mr. Fass who ran things in behalf the refugees. When alerted that the SS were coming, things turned intense, with the march to Borgo San Dalmazzo, where refuge became an illusion and 250 were duped by conforming Italians and surprise SS.
I personally got to know Manya, who was written about in a previous story plus her brother Sigi Hartmeyer and Norbert Wolfinger who became Boris Carmeli, a world famous opera singer. [All had been in in Saint Martin Vésubie – Ed.] Norbert was like an older brother to me, and lived with us for a year in Beverly Hills in the 60s trying to break into the film business. Great guy. Manya also lived in Los Angeles with her family, and I knew Ernst her husband.
After the war my father returned to Austria, and we lived in Salzburg until we immigrated to USA when I was 5 years old in 1951 and my father 40 years old. He passed away on stage at 86 in 1997 in Graz while discussing the German edition of his book (Verdammt ohne Urteil2), in front of the government, dignitaries and officials, having just said “This is the greatest day of my life”. A street in Graz was named after my father in 2000, Berthold Linder Weg.
George is lives in Brentwood, Los Angeles. He works as a film producer. His first film wasThe Running Man, starring Arnold Schwartzenegger, a fellow Austrian. Prior to that, he pioneered ultra-lightweight wheelchairs, running a factory with 500 employees.