An elderly German retired state employee has donated a million marks to the Women’s International Zionist Organization.
In a ceremony at the Israeli Consulate in Berlin, 84-year-old Gunther Rutschke explained his motive for the donation, which is equivalent to about $700,000: “I want to prove that there are other, good Germans, who really care about what happened to the Jews.”
Rutschke added that no sum can compensate the Jews for their sufferings under the Third Reich.
But he said it was nevertheless important to demonstrate to the Jews that many Germans love the Jewish people. “I do hope and believe,” Rutschke added, “that I speak for the Germans and represent the real Germany.”
Rutschke revealed that he had been saving for the past 35 years to make the donation possible.
The Berlin bachelor, who lives near Madeira, Portugal, said that his generous state pension left him with enough money to live modestly and save a good portion of the income for the good purpose of helping the Jews.
Rutschke lives without television or radio but owns a horse, a bicycle and thousands of books.
Lala Susskind of the Berlin branch of WIZO said that the donation left her and other activists speechless.
“We have never received anything near to that,” she said. “We were really amazed.”
Susskind invited Rutschke to Israel to see how his donation will be used. It has been decided that his gift will go to help the construction in Herzliya of a medical center for mothers who have just given birth.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.