Otto Weidt (born on May 2, 1883), of working-class
origins, was compelled by his growing blindness to abandon his work
as a wallpaper hanger. He thereupon set up a workshop for the blind
at 39, Rosenthalerstrasse in Berlin N., which manufactured brushes and
brooms. Practically all of his employees were blind, deaf, and dumb
Jews. They were assigned to him from the Jewish Home for the Blind in
When the deportations began, Weidt, utterly fearless,
fought with Gestapo officials
over the fate of every single Jewish worker. As means of persuasion
he would use both bribery and the argument that his employees were essential
for fulfilling orders commissioned by the army. Once, when the Gestapo had arrested several of his workers, the self-appointed guardian of
the Jewish blind went in person to the assembly camp at the Grosse Hamburger-Strasse,
where the Jews were incarcerated pending deportation, and succeeded
in securing their release at the last minute.
Aside from the blind, Weidt also employed in his office healthy Jewish
workers. This was strictly forbidden, as all Jewish workers had to be
mediated through the labor employment office, which would ordinarily
post them to forced-labor assignments. However, Weidt, through a mixture
of bribery and subterfuge, succeeded in overriding the objections of
Eschhaus, the Nazi director of the official employment office.
A Jewish girl, Inge Deutschkron, was among the eight healthy Jews employed
at the workshop. As she and her mother began to live illegally in order
escape deportation, Weidt arranged for Deutschkron an Aryan
work ticket that he had acquired from a prostitute who had no use for
it. Unfortunately, the ticket had to be discarded three months later
when the prostitute was apprehended by the police.
One of Weidts most spectacular exploits involved
the rescue of a Jewish girl from Auschwitz.
Alice Licht and her parents were hidden at a secondary site
of the workshop, ensconced behind a front of brushes and brooms. When
the Gestapo, tipped off by a Jewish informer, discovered the hiding
place, Licht was deported first to Theresienstadt and from there to
Auschwitz. However, she managed to notify Weidt of her destination by
a postcard thrown out of the window of the train. Weidt, under the guise
of a business trip, actually traveled to Auschwitz in June 1944, where
he managed to contact a Polish civilian worker who had access to Licht.
The Pole, who functioned as a go-between, informed the Jewish girl that
Weidt had rented a room for her with clothes and money. In January 1945,
when the camp was being evacuated, Licht managed to make her escape
and reached the designated room. A few weeks later she surfaced again
in Berlin alive and well. Her parents never returned.
On September 7, 1971, Yad
Vashem decided to recognize Otto Weidt posthumously as Righteous
Among the Nations.