Gertrude Luckner was a heroic figure of the German opposition to the Nazis whose Christian efforts to help those suffering at their hands led to her being imprisoned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp for two years. But although she spent virtually all of her life in Germany, that life began in Liverpool with the name Jane Hartman.
She was born on 26th September 1900 to Robert Hartman, a marine engineer, and his wife Gertrude (née Miller) who lived at 115 Salisbury Road, Wavertree, L15. Her parents were German and returned to Germany when she was a young child. Sadly, they both died when she was seven and being orphaned she was sent to foster parents who changed her name to Gertrude Luckner.
She studied at various German Universities, and also for a time at Woodbrooke, the Quaker college in Birmingham. She gained her doctorate in 1938 at Freiburg, her dissertation being written on self-help among the unemployed of England and Wales. From the early 1930’s she had been working for the Catholic aid organisation Caritas, and having been raised a Quaker she entered the Roman Catholic church in 1934. She worked tirelessly to support German Jews and try to find ways for them to escape the Third Reich. These efforts continued underground after the war began and having been under surveillance for some time she was arrested by the Gestapo in March 1943 and spent the rest of the war in the Ravensbruck concentration camp.
After the war she returned to social work, assisting the victims of Nazi oppression and striving to improve Jewish-Christian understanding. She died in Freiburg aged 94 in 1995.
Her home in Liverpool when she was born as jane Hartman in 1900
Gertrude Luckner's grave in Freiburg
The Wikipedia entry is quite comprehensive. There is an article on her on the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre website. You can view a video of an interview with her on the website of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. An internet search will reveal many other references to her life and work.
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