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Holocaust survivor and Nuremberg translator Ruth Lansing dies at 105

Following World War II, she returned to occupied Germany and became a civilian employee for the U.S. Army, working as a translator.

Ruth Lansing. Credit: Courtesy of Buffalo Jewish Federation.
Ruth Lansing. Credit: Courtesy of Buffalo Jewish Federation.

Ruth F. Lansing, who aided in the prosecution of leaders of the Third Reich and Nazi Germany at the Nuremberg trials, died on April 5. She was 105 years old.

She was born on Nov. 13, 1918, in a small town outside of Dusseldorf, Germany, to Friederike (“Ricka”) and Sigmund Oberlander.

On the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, while visiting family in Dusseldorf proper, Lansing witnessed Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”), when Jews across Germany and in parts of Austria were brutally attacked, and their stores and synagogues ransacked and burned.

Her sister Lucy and her husband were able to leave for the United States soon after that. Lansing later managed to get passage to England with the help of family–a move that would save her life. At the age of 18, she emigrated to British Mandatory Palestine.

In 1988, she recounted her experiences on Yom Hashaoh, Holocaust Remembrance Day, that “two stormtroopers came to arrest my host” and that “I believed they were going to shoot him then and there,” according to The Buffalo News

Lansing’s parents were rounded up and taken to Auschwitz in 1942. Another sister, Gerti, was taken to the same concentration camp years later, in 1945. All were murdered there.

Following World War II, Lansing returned to occupied Germany and became a civilian employee for the U.S. Army, working as a translator during the world-famous Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. She eventually managed to join her sister in the United States, moving there in 1948, where she met Eric Lansing, They married the next year and settled in Buffalo, N.Y., working for 20 years in real estate while raising their two children.

In 1955, Lansing and her husband became founding members of the synagogue now known as Congregation Shir Shalom in Amherst, Mass. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels; at hospitals and nursing homes; and was active with the Jewish Federation in Buffalo.

She and her husband traveled extensively, seeing 53 countries across six continents. Her husband died in 2014.

At her 100th birthday celebration in 2018, Lansing said: “We only have one life, so why not choose to make the world a better place. I think we would be a lot better off if we looked at our similarities, instead of focusing on our differences.”

Lansing is survived by a son and daughter, and two grandchildren.

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