Zionist and public activist, a leader of the Slovakia Jewish community during the Holocaust, Gisi Fleischmann was born in Pressburg (later Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia). She was the eldest of three children born to Julius Fischer (1866–1936) and Jetty Elinger (1871–1945). Her parents, both born in Pressburg, ran a hotel and kosher restaurant in that city. Her brothers were Desider David (1884–1973), a pediatrician, and Gustav (1886–1939), a doctor of law. The tendency of the time to give only boys an academic education left Gisi with only eight years of schooling, but that did not prevent her from teaching herself German literature, the history of art, and history. Nor did it prevent her from exercising her natural leadership abilities when the time came.
Her childhood years were also the final years of Hungarian control over the Slovaks, which had lasted for about a thousand years. The Magyarization of the nineteenth century, during which the Hungarians tried to turn Hungary into a country of one nationality, also turned the Jewish residents of Pressburg, where the Slovakians were a minority, into speakers of German and Hungarian. With the establishment of the Czechoslovakian Republic in 1918, the twenty-six-year-old Fleischmann became a citizen of a new state without being able to speak the local Slovakian language. %0
Bauer, Yehuda. Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933–1945. New Haven: 1994; Campion, Joan. In the Lion’s Mouth: Gisi Fleischmann and the Jewish Fight for Survival. Maryland: 1987; Fatran, Gila. Struggle for Surviving?: Jewish Leadership in Slovakia during the Holocaust, 1938–1944 (Hebrew). Tel Aviv: 1992; Jablonka, Chana. “Gisi Fleischmann.” In The History of the Jewish Holocaust in Slovakia (Hebrew). edited by Akiva Nir. Givat Havivah: 1988; Kafri, Haim. “Gisi Fleischmann: A Fighter and Savior in Slovakia during World War II” (Hebrew). Yalkut Moreshet 13. Tel Aviv: 1971; Neumann, Oskar Yirmeyahu. Gisi Fleischmann: Die geschichte einer Kaempferin. Tel Aviv: 1970. Porat, Dina. The Blue and the Yellow Star of David: The Zionist Leadership of Palestine and the Holocaust, 1939–1945. Harvard: 1990.
How to cite this page
Fatran, Gila. "Gisi Fleischmann." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 26, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/fleischmann-gisi>.