Mr. Franz Josef Schober published a summation of his research work in the Signal edition, winter 2006/07, under the title "Eine Begegnung." The focus of the investigation is centered in a village named Neuhaus am Klausenbach. The village is about six kilometers north of Sankt Anna am Aigen. In the article he is detailing the work in 1944-45 of the local priest Father Stephan Berger who allowed the parsonage to be used as an infirmary to treat sick Jews with Fleck-typhus. Furthermore, he entrusted his own sister, Theresia Berger to care for the sick Jews. And while she cared for the sick, she herself caught the disease, which claimed her life.
On the same page the Signal he is writing about Rosa Freißmuth, who in her General store, in Neuhaus am Klausenbach, right under the nose of an SS man who also happened to be in the store, helped a young Jewish laborer whose father was stricken by the illness and was running a high fever. She gave the boy bread and medication. Mr. Schober also writes that Rosa Freißmuth repeatedly helped Jewish Forced Laborers with food and medications. Furthermore, she hid Jews near her store, behind snow covers and saved their lives. For her bravery, Rosa Freißmuth – posthumously – was honored by Yad Vashem, which declared her a Righteous Among Nations. Her name will be forever inscribed in the Wall of Honor.
While the catholic priest Stephan Berger, his sister Theresia Berger, General store owner Rosa Freißmuth and numerous other local citizens laboriously helped and saved lives of Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers in Neuhaus. At the same time, lesser-documented but just as brave citizens of St. Anna and vicinity were helping to save Jewish lives, including my life. Maria Lackner gave life-saving food to my comrade, friend, others and me.
In the chapter THE FORMAL MEETING Ron reports “…in discussions with a historian, Dr. Eleonore Lappin, we would theorize that the local priest might have played a role in the conspiracy, perhaps by organizing the people." Now the hard question: Was there any cooperation between Father Stephan Berger and the Priest in St Anna, Josef Nöhrer? Did they coordinate their life saving efforts? Were they cut from the same fabric or did a superior direct them? Could it be possible that Father Berger had influence over the flock in St Anna? Did the parishioners interact between the Neuhaus parish and the one in St Anna? The answer is: we do not know. Although we know the following: The inhabitants in the area of St. Anna are highly devout Catholics, steeped in the charitable giving to- and helping other people. In Judaism we call that tzedaka - charitable giving. Another version is that the area is a border region, where strangers need in help are frequently showing up and generations grew up in the giving, helping tradition. All-and-all we can safely deduct that the citizens in that corner of Austria, overwhelmingly bucked the Nazi trend to eradicate Jews from the word, to kill them all. Those brave people acted in concert to save Jews. They provided them with food and other help, as much as they were able to do. With those acts they proved that the Austrian people, despite being under Nazi rule – by that time – over six years, were able to reach much higher moral values while risking their own lives, saving Jews as best as they could. Their humanitarian role should be acknowledged.