born 21 September 1914 in Rathenow
died 8 August 2013 in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
Historical former address Mühlenstraße 4
Stumbling stone Mühlenstraße 4
Date of stone-laying 3 December 2019
Gerda Brandt was born in Rathenow on 21 September 1914. She had been given her second name Philippine after her deceased maternal grandmother. In 1920, her parents Eugen and Rosa Brandt moved to Fürstenwalde, where they ran a haberdashery shop at Mühlenstraße 4. Gerda had two brothers, Rudolph, who was a year older than her, and Werner, who was nine years younger. Gerda’s father Eugen Brandt was an active member of the Jewish community. During the November pogroms in 1938, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Threatened by the National Socialists, Gerda was forced to flee the “Third Reich”. Her passport is dated 16 December 1938 – two days after her father’s release from Sachsenhausen. In January 1939, Gerda boarded the ship “General San Martin”, which reached the Porto des Santos in Brazil on 23 February 1939. Around the same time, Gerda’s parents moved to Berlin, where her brother Werner was living at the time. From Berlin, the Brandt parents were deported on 12 January 1943 to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, where they were murdered. Werner suffered the same fate on 26 February 1943.
On 12 May 1941, Gerda Brandt married Sérgio José de Villemor Amaral in Brazil. She moved with him to Rio de Janeiro, where she lived with her two children Wanda and Alfredo until her husband died in 1978. When Wanda separated from her first husband, Gerda raised her then-five-year-old grandson Guilherme together with her son Alfredo. Gerda earned a living as a German teacher and domestic help. Her husband Sérgio José worked at the stock exchange.
According to her grandson, despite her traumatic past, Gerda remained a very warm and positive person who found much joy in life. She rarely spoke about her escape and the fate of her family, and also concealed her Jewish roots. Instead, she shared with her children and grandchildren many fond memories of her childhood days in Fürstenwalde before the National Socialists came to power.
In 1969, Gerda visited Germany for the first time. The trip also took her to France, where her older brother Rudolph – whom she called “Rudy” – lived in Toulouse. Gerda was unable to travel to Fürstenwalde and Rathenow until 1993, following the reunification of Germany. On 8 August 2013, Gerda Villemor Amaral Brandt died surrounded by her family in Salvador da Bahia.