Gertrud Gruenbaum

Gertrud Gruenbaum

Born: March 26, 1917

Vienna, Austria

Born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, Gertrud grew up in Vienna. Trude, as she was affectionately called, attended a public secondary school, where half of her classmates were Jewish. At age 7 she rejected music lessons for classes in dancing and acting. Trude wanted to be like Greta Garbo. She launched an acting career at age 18, assuming the stage name Trude Hermann.

1933-39: Because Gertrud was Jewish she couldn't get acting jobs in Austria and nearby Sudetenland. In 1937 her agent found work for her in Italy; she stayed there after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. A friend advised Gertrud to cast an absentee ballot for Hitler for "practical reasons." After all, no Nazi would expect a Jew to vote for him. Her voting was recorded on her passport, later enabling her to prove German citizenship.

1940-44: When the Germans occupied Italy in September 1943, the Italians refused to hand over the Jews. Since in Germany Gruenbaum wasn't necessarily a Jewish name, the Germans didn't realize Gertrud was Jewish. They gave her the choice of "returning" to Germany or serving them in Italy. After she swore by the life of their beloved Fuehrer that she was an Aryan, they hired her as an interpreter. When the Allies neared Rome, Gertrud went into hiding because the Germans wanted her to retreat north with them.

Trude was liberated by American troops on June 4, 1944. She immigrated to the United States in 1950.

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