Johanna Jutta Neumann
Johanna Jutta Neumann (née Gerechter), of Silver Spring, died on April 26. She was 86.
She was born Dec. 2, 1930, to Alice and Siegbert Gerechter in Hamburg, Germany. In 1939, after failed attempts to obtain United States visas, Neumann and her parents escaped to Albania, where they were welcomed and protected as guests in the homes of Albanian-Muslims. Neumann remained in Albania throughout the war until freed by the allies in 1945. She then went to the United States, where she met her love, David. They married on June 1, 1952. They had four children, 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
While living in Boston, she was active at the Young Israel of Brookline. She managed the nursery school, while raising her children. In 1969, Neumann and family moved to Haifa, Israel, where she worked for the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology. She also taught students in preparation for Jewish conversion.
In 1990, the Neumanns returned to the United States and lived in Silver Spring, where she was an active member of the Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah.
Neumann worked for the American Technion Society, managing the Washington office, and later joined the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as a volunteer. In 2005, she joined the Planned Giving Department and volunteered with Survivor Affairs, sharing her story at events around the United States and around the world. As part of her speaking engagements, she teamed up with ADAMS, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, as a means to inspire others toward coexistence.
Neumann authored an autobiography, “Escape to Albania,” published in English, German and Albanian. The book describes her childhood experiences during the war spent in Albania, surviving under Italian and German occupation, protected by Albanians. In connection with her survival in Albania, she participated in several documentaries including “BESA: The Promise.”
For her book and work on behalf of the Albanian people, the city of Durrës bestowed Honorary Citizen upon her. She was also honored by the city of Tirana and by the Albanian president.
Neumann volunteered to promote the Stolpersteine Project. The organization has placed over 61,000 stumbling stones across Europe as a memorial to Jews and other victims who were deported and exterminated during World War II.
She is missed by her colleagues at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, friends around the world, and by her large and growing family. n