Born: April 15, 1904, Vienna, Austria
Johanna was born in Vienna when it was still the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her Christian family experienced the disruption resulting from the empire's collapse, as well as the instability of the Austrian republic. The depression of 1929 hit Vienna especially hard. In 1931 Johanna became a Jehovah's Witness.
1933-39: I traveled constantly in and out of Austria distributing our Jehovah's Witness literature. In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria and we were subjected to Nazi law; our religion was banned. In 1939 the Gestapo arrested me at home at 6 a.m.; the court sentenced me to six years imprisonment. I was sent to a women's penitentiary in Aichach, located in Upper Bavaria in Germany.
1940-44: I spent all six years of the war in Aichach, working every day from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. sewing and knitting civilian clothes. I refused to do any work for the army. I was denied the right to have a Bible, but the authorities changed their mind when I argued that if other Germans had the right to go to church then I, too, had the right to own a Bible so that I could worship as well. I trusted in Jehovah and he gave me the strength to withstand the hardships of the war.
Johanna was liberated in Aichach in May 1945 by U.S. forces and returned to her home in Austria. She subsequently settled in Braunau, a town in northern Austria.
Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC