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Oldest Male Nazi Concentration Camp Survivor in Encino for L.A. Premiere of 'Ladder in the Lion's Den'

107-year-old Leopold Engleitner will be at the Laemmle Town Center 5 to talk about his experiences.

The world's oldest known male Nazi concentration camp survivor, Leopold Engleitner, 107, will be at the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino Friday to attend the Los Angeles premiere of the documentary Ladder in the Lions' Den.

The film charts Engleitner's journey as a conscientious objector and a Jehovah's Witness who was imprisoned by the Nazis for his beliefs. He is the survivor of three concentration camps: Buchenwald, Niederhagen and Ravensbrueck.

Engleitner is flying in from Austria especially for the Encino screenings, and, with the help of an interpreter, will be talking to audience members and taking part in several Q&As at the theater.

The documentary's narrator and script-editor, Frederic Fuss, talked with Patch about the film and its subject.

How did you become involved in the project?

I have been a friend and supporter of Leopold and the writer, Bernhard Ramerstorfer, for many years, and I've also proofread two of [Ramerstoffer's] books and been a script-editor and proofreader of his book on Leopold, Unbroken Will, and the documentary DVD of the same name. Among the things that captivated me from the beginning is that the strength of Leopold's unbroken will and determination never diminished his positive outlook, and the intensity of his trial never made him bitter.

Can you talk a little about the subject matter of the documentary?

Ladder in the Lions' Den takes a slice of Leo's experiences and puts them into a more direct historical context. You get to the significance of the stand he took as a conscientious objector, not going along with Nazism and and its ideals. It also has outsider commentators, and they give their views, like Adolf Burger who appeared in the film The Counterfeiters—he's one of the original true life characters—he's briefly interviewed, also Renée Firestone [a Jewish Auschwitz survivor], and Gottlieb Bernhardt. He was a bodyguard of Hitler's, he briefly gives a statement in the film.

The name Ladder in the Lions' Den is about Leo's experience as a Jehovah's Witness in the camps. A document was regularly presented to the Jehovah's Witnesses, who were conscientious objectors and who objected to the principles of Nazism, and they did not subscribe to any of the racist ideas. To get out of the camp, they were told 'just sign this document where you renounce your beliefs, say you go along with Nazism and go along with Hitler'.

They [Jehovah's Witnesses] would also not say the 'Heil Hitler' greeting, and the film comments on that, that the words ascribe salvation to Hitler. They said, no, he's not God so we're not going to do that.

It's perhaps not commonly known that Jehovah's Witnesses were victims of the Nazi concentration camps.

It is a story that is often overlooked, and it's more than just a story. There are important messages in what Leopold did and he’s very active in going to schools in Austria, mainly because his message is pertinent: You don’t need to go along with peer pressure, you can stick by your conscience. You don't have to say 'we are ordinary people, what are we going to do?'

So Leopold teaches people to follow their conscience instead of say 'we were just following orders'?

Yes—that's the standard cop-out and the message of the Nuremberg Trials. There's a powerful message here.

***

Ladder in the Lions' Den, Laemmle Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Boulevard, Encino. 818-981-9811. Opens Friday November 7. For showtimes, click here.

Leopold Engleitner is scheduled to attend all screenings, from 12:30 p.m. Nov. 9-Nov. 15, and 11:00 a.m. Sat Nov. 10 and Sun Nov. 11. Renée Firestone is scheduled to be at the two showings on Sunday Nov. 11.

And click on the YouTube video above to see a 2009 CBS2/KCAL9 news report on Engleitner.

Solomon Ruffo November 08, 2012 at 02:58 PM
6 Million Jews 3 Million Poles 400,000 Gypsies 50,000-100,000 Homosexuals 150,000 Disabled Germans Nobody ever mentions that Hitler rounded up all the Masons many of them Catholics and had them killed.The only Masons who survived didn't have their name on the rolls at the Grand lodge in Berlin. I think it was over 30,000 Masons that were murdered- they never got imprisoned, but killed outright, as Hitler feared them. Many leaders of various resistance groups compromised,individuals maintained integrity. The Jehovah's Witnesses leader Joseph Rutherford also initially sought favor with Hitler,but when Hitler double-crossed him he drove his own followers to be martyrs. Millions of Slavs, Russians, Socialist, Catholics, Protestants. MORE Facts http://www.randytv.com/Hitler/watchtower_hitler.htm Watchtower and the Nazis.
Ryan Townsend November 08, 2012 at 04:26 PM
"Randy" is a former member of Jehovah's Organization that spreads false information about Jehovah's Witnesses. For an accurate, unbiased presentation of the persecution the Jehovah's Witnesses experienced under the Nazi regime, feel free to consult the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005433 Initially, leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses sought to find a way to work with the Nazi government. In October 1934, the leadership sent a letter to the Reich government, explaining the Witnesses' core beliefs and their commitment to political neutrality. The letter stated that Jehovah's Witnesses "have no interest in political affairs, but are wholly devoted to God's Kingdom under Christ His King." German authorities responded with economic and political harassment. Witnesses who continued to missionize or who refused to participate in Nazi organizations lost their jobs and their unemployment and social welfare benefits, or were arrested. The administrative position of Jehovah's Witnesses did not drive anyone "to become martyres." w86 9/1 pp. 19-20 par. 12 Christian Neutrals in a Bloodstained World  Similarly, Christians today should not instruct others personally as to what stand they must take on issues related to Christian neutrality. Each one must make his own conscientious decisions in line with his understanding of Bible principles.—Galatians 6:4, 5.
Danny Haszard November 08, 2012 at 05:55 PM
5,000-6,000 Gay & Lesbian perished in the camps The vast majority of Holocaust victims — nearly 6 million, according to estimates — were Jews. But there were other victims, too — Communists and socialists, who were persecuted for political reasons; Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were deemed insufficiently devoted to the Nazi cause; Slavs and gypsies, who (like the Jews) were considered racially inferior; and homosexuals, who were attacked both for their sexual orientation and for not doing enough to further Hitler’s dream of creating an Aryan master race. Though homosexuality was technically illegal during this period, police often looked the other way, especially in larger cities. That, in turn, gave rise to a lively gay and lesbian social scene, mainly centered around same-sex bars and nightclubs. Once arrested, accused homosexuals had roughly a one-in-three chance of being convicted and sent to prison. From there, many were sent to concentration camps, where they were often given the most grueling and dangerous jobs. Convicted homosexuals were also forced to wear pink triangles on their prison uniforms — a move intended to subject them to further abuse at the hands of fellow inmates A Common Bond http://www.gayxjw.org/ http://newsblaze.com/story/20090625053844zzzz.nb/topstory.html
Giselle Leclerc January 08, 2013 at 11:47 PM
wow wow yuor so amasing brother

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