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Lisa Fittko (1909–2005)

Author of Escape Through the Pyrenees

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Lisa Fittko was born Elizabeth Eckstein to a prominent Jewish family in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that included leftists, nationalists, industrialists, and patrons of the arts. She grew up in Budapest and Vienna before World War I. Afterwards, her family moved to Berlin, where Lisa witnessed the rise to power of the Nazi regime, and became active in anti-fascist politics. For seven years, she worked for underground Resistance movements in Berlin, Prague, Zurich, Amsterdam, Paris, and Marseilles (with Varian Fry). Following the German Occupation of France in 1940, she and her husband and resistance comrade Hans Fittko -- although wanted themselves -- guided Jews and other refugees over the Pyrenees Mountains to neutral Spain. After seven months, the couple escaped to Cuba, and from there emigrated to the USA, settling in Chicago. There she worked as a secretary and helped support relatives who had survived the Holocaust. She finally gained recognition in the USA through a documentary film, "Lisa Fittko: But We Said We Will Not Surrender" (1998) and her two memoirs, Escape Through the Pyrenees (1985, English translation 1991), and Solidarity and Treason: Resistance and Exile, 1933-1940 (English translation, 1993).
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