“Gerda Philipsborn”
Anonymous letter to editor
Jewish Advocate, June 1943

A supplement to the article “A Physicist’s Lost Love: Leo Szilard and Gerda Philipsborn,” by Gene Dannen. Copyright © 2015 Gene Dannen.
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“Gerda Philipsborn,” anonymous letter to the editor, Jewish Advocate (Bombay), June 1943, courtesy Gerry Brent.

The Editor, “The Jewish Advocate”


I think that all people knowing Gerda Philipsborn are grateful to Mrs. Anita Kashyap for the article she has published in the last issue of this paper in memory of the deceased. Her lines reveal a sincere friendship of the writer to Gerda Philipsborn. Mrs. Kashyap can however not know our Gerda’s activity in Purandhar where she like all other Jewish aliens from Northern India was interned with us for more than one year. May I therefore supplement the article in respect of this short chapter of her life.

All co-internees, whether they shared her always outspoken opinion or not, recognized Gerda Philipsborn as a woman of outstanding personality. She always turned an open ear to lonely creatures and never failed to find a clever solution when people approached her with their troubles. Even when already released she succeeded in opening the gate to new life to a number of co-internees.

Most interesting was her conception of children who all loved Gerda. It is significant that - as she put it - in school she liked the small children the best, when they had just come from their parental homes, showing still their individual habits and customs, even fighting for them until they acclimatized. The more difficult and insistent the children were, the more she loved them, because she knew that just these little creatures were longing for her help. Her inner serenity made her smile about all human weakness, and only her profound understanding for all races and all walks of life gave her the great gift never to see difficulties. She found the way to everybody’s heart, even to her opponents’, although or just because she was always frank in her opinion never holding back her point of view.

Nowhere in India did we attend such an elevating divine service as in Purandhar thanks to Gerda Philipsborn who rehearsed the Jewish songs well known to her from former times and conducted the choir accompanying the singers on the harmonium herself. She devoted hours and hours for the rehearsals in spite of her sometimes very poor condition of health but this was a point never mentioned by her.

All former co-internees mourning her loss will never forget her wonderful singing voice, but even stronger in memory to all of us sounds in our ears her charming melodious speaking and laughing.

She who understood to keep her heart young was the cleverest, most broadminded and most kind-hearted woman I ever came across amongst the European Jews in India.

A former co-internee.