Heller shares tales of Nazi concentration camps

Trude Heller shared memories of life in a Nazi concentration camp with students and teachers at Dacusville Middle School

By Ben Robinson, Courier Staff

DACUSVILLE — Trude Shoutar and Max Heller exchanged wedding vows on a street in Greenville in 1942.

For Trude, it was the start of 69 years of marriage with the future mayor of the city of Greenville. But it was also the chance to put her early years of life behind her after growing up in war-torn Austria and suffering through some of the affects of German concentration camps.

She and Max promised themselves to teach their children only love, not the kind of hatred that led a woman to kill Trude’s grandmother in a concentration camp over a piece of bread. An 11 million Jews died in the concentration camps.

“We vowed to get out of Austria, but no other country wanted us,” Heller said last Thursday in a speech at Dacusville Junior High School. “We lost 90 people just in our family.”

Fortunately, women were not yet included in most concentration camps when Trude was there. “They took all the men away,” Trude said.

Trude is insulted by those who claim the Holicoust never happened. “They need to visit all the graves in Europe, and they will tell you a different story,” Trude said.

Trude realizes that America’s entrance into World War II made the difference. “If you have a grandfather who fought in World War II, please tell him thank you for me,” Heller told the students. “If it hadn’t been for America, Hitler would have taken over the world.”

Despite the hardship her time in the concentration camp caused her, Heller refuses to be bitter.

“I was lucky I came out of there,” she said. “Hate just bring on more hate. Hate is never good.”

She came to America and eventually was mother to three children, 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

The Dacusville students presented Heller with some artwork that featured the Statue of Liberty. She smiled.

“My husband loved the Statue of Liberty,” she said.