Liselotte Pereles (1906 - 1970)

Liselotte Pereles, the daughter of a Jewish businessman, was born in Berlin in 1906. A nursery school teacher, in 1933 she had to leave her position as director of an after-school care training center at the Pestalozzi Fröbel Haus in Berlin. Starting in 1934, she was the director of an after-school care center of the Jewish Community, in Berlin-Kreuzberg. She was made the guardian of Susanne Manasse, a Jewish girl whose mother had died and whose father had to flee Germany after having been a prisoner in a concentration camp. Owing to her work in the Jewish Community, Liselotte Pereles was initially deferred from the deportations, but she was always in danger of losing that protection.

Around New Year’s 1943, a friend introduced Pereles to Elisabeth Abegg, a Quaker who had decided to protect those suffering persecution from the Gestapo. Abegg offered to hide Pereles and her ward Susanne Manasse, before it was too late. On February 1, 1943, Liselotte Pereles was arrested at her workplace. She was later able to escape from the pre-deportation assembly camp, inform Abegg, and pick up Susanne Manasse. Abegg brought her together with a former student and fellow helper Hildegard Knies in Berlin-Charlottenburg, who took Pereles in. Susanne Manasse was brought to her non-Jewish aunt Bertha Becker.

Liselotte Pereles assumed the name “Lilo Koch” and was able to acquire a postal ID card as provisional proof of her false identity. However, she had to change her illegal quarters very often. Until the war ended, she survived in hiding by staying alternately with Hildegard Knies, Elisabeth Abegg and her sister Julie, and with Abegg’s colleague Elisabeth Schmitz and Schmitz’s friend Lydia Forsström. For a short period of time she also stayed with the seamstress Margit Dobbeck, an acquaintance of Abegg, in the Alsace region.

After the war, Liselotte Pereles worked as a social worker for the Tempelhof district offices in Berlin. She remained close friends with Elisabeth Abegg throughout her life and moved to live near Abegg. As a sign of the bond between them, Abegg, a high school teacher who remained unmarried and childless, adopted Pereles. After her death in 1970 Pereles was buried in the Abegg family gravesite in Berlin.

Bibliography:
Pereles, Liselotte. “Die Retterin in der Not.” In Die unbesungenen Helden: Menschen in Deutschlands dunklen Tagen, edited by Kurt R. Grossmann, 85–93. 2nd rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main, etc: Ullstein, 1984.
Liselotte Pereles
Photo: privately owned

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  • Quakers

    Quakers

    The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers, is a Christian-based lay community first founded in England in 1746. Its doctrine of the “inner light,” or divine presence in all humanity, includes a commitment to nonviolence, universal compassion, and aid for the needy. The German branch founded in 1925, with almost three hundred members, was monitored from 1933 to 1945 and some of its property was confiscated.