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Oldest Holocaust survivor tells a story of faith and courage that's out of the ordinary

Leopold Engleitner endured the Holocaust. His long life since has inspired others.

Living history: Leopold Engleitner (right) visited the Frankfurt Book Fair with his biographer, Berhnard Rammerstorfer (left), this fall.

Isabelle de Pommereau

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Leopold Engleitner's blue eyes still burn bright. Last month, the 103-year-old traveled to Frankfurt, from his home in Austria to tell his story at the world's largest publishing event. Mr. Engleitner, a former farmer from the Salzburg region, is a Jehovah's Witness.

And he is the oldest living survivor of the Holocaust.

At first no one seemed interested in the facts of his life, which included an unwavering faith and enduring internments in the Buchenwald, Wewelsburg, and Ravensbrueck camps run by German Nazis. Then a young Austrian filmmaker met Engleitner by chance and ended up listening to his stories for hours on end.

The filmmaker, Berhnard Rammerstorfer, was captivated by what he heard and eventually dropped everything he was doing to write Engleitner's biography.

"What impressed me was that a simple farmer had the courage to withstand Hitler, to refuse to go to war although millions of people did go to war, that he had the strength to adhere to his own conscience," says Mr. Rammerstorfer.

He first published "Unbroken Will: The Extraordinary Courage of an Ordinary Man," in German in 1999. It was republished this year, and an English edition is scheduled to be released in 2009.


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