One West 4th Street
New York, New York
Organized in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the birth of New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, this exhibition describes the life's journey of his beloved sister, Gemma, who was incarcerated as a political hostage in the Mauthausen and Ravensbrück concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Born in 1881 in New York City, Gemma La Guardia Gluck was the daughter of Italian immigrants - a mother of prestigious Italian Jewish lineage and a father who became a U.S. Army bandleader. Gemma and her Hungarian Jewish husband were living in Budapest in 1944 when Nazi troops stormed the city. Eichmann and Himmler ordered her arrest as a political hostage because she was La Guardia's sister.
This exhibition follows the trajectory of Gemma's memoir, from her girlhood years spent in the Old West to the years of jeopardy amidst Budapest's Jews, deportation to Mauthausen with her husband, imprisonment at the notorious Ravensbrück women's concentration camp, and difficulties as a displaced person in postwar Berlin.
"Gemma's story is of a wise and strong woman who remained optimistic and resourceful, even when life was much less than fair," says Rochelle G. Saidel, guest curator and the author of Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story, incorporating Gemma La Guardia Gluck's My Story. Saidel is also the author of The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück and other Holocaust related books, and the founder and director of Remember the Women Institute, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to research in women's history.
"Gemma La Guardia's story casts new light on the Holocaust and is a source of inspiration to all those who seek to understand the human capacity to overcome tragedy and affirm life," notes Jean Bloch Rosensaft, museum director.