Monday, April 25, 2011

Maria's Couch

Maria von Maltzan, The German Resistance Memorial Center

When Hans had moved in with her, Maria noticed that his large counch with a space inside might be a good hiding place during an emergency search. She drilled some air holes into the bottom of it, then covered the bottom with a thin material that would mask the holes but still let in air. Then she fixed the couch so that once someone was hidden inside, it could not be opened from the outside.

The Nazis knew that they had not found all of Berlin's Jews, so they stepped up their searches. Maria had long come under suspicion for hiding Jews. One day a Nazi ffocial searching for Jews came into Maria's apartment, looked at the couch where Hans was hiding, and said, "How do we know nobody is hiding in there?"

Maria calmly answered, "If you're sure someone is in there, go ahead and shoot. But before you do that, I want a written, signed paper from you that you will pay for new material and the work to have the couch re-covered after you put holes in it."

Excerpt from "Maria von Maltzan: the Countess Who Hid Jews," from Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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