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Posted Thursday, June 22, 2000

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Thursday June 22, 2000

Popular Holocaust Survivor Doubted

BALTIMORE (AP) - A Jewish group has removed a popular Holocaust survivor from its list of recommended speakers after experts said they found inaccuracies in her wartime accounts.

"This is an attempt at getting to the truth, at making sure we give no ammunition to the deniers of the Holocaust, and making sure that children are given the historical truth," said Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, the community relations and political arm of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

An expert review cast doubt on the harrowing descriptions of concentration camp life by Deli Strummer, 78, who has become known throughout Maryland for her spellbinding tales.

Strummer acknowledged during an interview with The (Baltimore) Sun that she made "innocent errors" and getting dates wrong, but remained adamant about the truthfulness of her accounts.

The experts who reviewed Strummer's story and historical records say she probably was a captive of the Nazis. Strummer says her name was Adele Aufrichtig [Website comment: aufrichtig is German for "upright, honest, decent"] in the 1940s, and there are records of a woman by that name born in 1922 in to a Jewish father and Christian mother and deported from Vienna in 1943.

Records are unclear on what happened to Aufrichtig after that, but Lawrence L. Langer, an expert in Holocaust testimony, said, "My hunch is 95 percent that (Strummer) is Adele Aufrichtig."

But Strummer has said she spent nine months in Auschwitz, while records suggest that if she was there, it was for no longer than eight days. Strummer has since said she was probably in Auschwitz for about three weeks.

Langer also said Strummer's claim that she saw Nazi guards at Auschwitz line up children and shoot them for target practice in front of their mothers was "highly unlikely."

Historian Raul Hilberg said Strummer's claim of seeing bones in a gas chamber is "invented," since research shows it would have been impossible for her to see bones in a shower or even a gas chamber.

Langer said Strummer's dramatic account of her liberation from a gas chamber at Mauthausen on May 5, 1945, also is inaccurate. Records show that the last gassing there took place April 28.

Strummer said she's "disgusted" at the scrutiny she's fallen under.

"I didn't think about timing," she said. "All I wanted was to tell the world, 'Please don't let this happen again."'

For more than 12 years, the Baltimore Jewish Council has supported Strummer's speaking activities. She was featured in two documentaries and on video presentations for two Holocaust libraries.

Related item on this website: The Washington Post reports on the Deli Strummer "survivor" story
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