Chief Rabbi at Funeral of Murdered Holocaust Survivor

By Hillel Fendel

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, visiting in Australia at the invitation of the local Jewish community, attended the funeral of an elderly Holocaust survivor who was inexplicably murdered in her home.

The 81-year-old widow, Katherine Schweitzer, was found brutally murdered outside her apartment last week. She was the only one of her family to survive the Nazi regime.

The last moments of her life, reported the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, “were cruel and abrupt, but a small measure of respect was returned to her today when Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger attended her funeral service.”

pictured: Hungarian Jews arriving at a Nazi concentration camp.

Rabbi Metzger had been invited by the Jewish community in Sydney to attend the dedication of a new Chabad yeshiva and to deliver several lectures. “I heard about this tragic case,” he said at the funeral, “and I changed my plans to come and give her the honor [due] a survivor of the Holocaust.”

He said that though she had no living relatives, “all the Jewish nation are her kids from today.”

The officiating rabbi, David Rogut, told the 80 people who gathered for the funeral, that “this senseless murder of a gentle, saintly and elderly person should never have happened… The truth is she leaves behind an entire city and country mourning for her tragic death, and honoring her for her outstanding life.”

Referring to this week’s Torah portion, he said, “The Book of Genesis concludes informing us of the passing away of Jacob and Joseph and that entire generation. But the Torah makes it clear that life goes on and that faith that links the generations one to another, breathes the life of the spirit into each succeeding generation…”

Police have no clue as to any motive for the murder, other than possibly a “thrill killing.” Mrs Schweitzer’s home was not ransacked, nothing was stolen and there was no sign of forced entry. Police know she had been in bed with the flu and waiting for a doctor to visit after phoning him in the afternoon. Her corpse was found a few hours later.

Katherine Go was born in Budapest in 1925, and spent her teen years working in the Hungarian resistance, hiding in the small Hungarian town of Vac forging birth certificates so that fellow Jews could escape the Nazi concentration camps. Her father and brother were poisoned with arsenic after being dragged from their home by German soldiers, and her mother and other siblings were also killed. In 1948, Katherine married Paul Schweitzer, and they later moved to Australia, where she worked as an accountant.

“She was a generous benefactor to many good causes,” Rabbi Rogut said.