Israeli-German Holocaust survivor, Felicia Langer, has passed away in Germany. The 87-year-old was an activist and had done immense legal work in the defence of Palestinians. She reportedly died of cancer.

Langer’s life

Born in 1930 in Poland to Jewish parents, Langer had a tough childhood. She was just eight years old when her parents fled the Nazi invasion for the Soviet Union, reported TOI.

Most of her family was killed in the Holocaust. Her father was a lawyer and died in Soviet captivity.

Post-war, she got married to Mieciu Langer, a concentration camp survivor, in 1949. She then moved to Isreal with him, where her mother lived. The left wing activist studied law here.

On her personal website, she said, “she learnt what it meant to be a refugee, to belong to an underprivileged minority, to live in bitter poverty”.

Her work as an activist

Langer then started to focus on defending the Palestinians in Israeli court cases. She also represented Israeli conscientious objectors.

Langer’s work came to limelight in the 1960-1970s. She was defending Palestinian detainees from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip then.

The activist was criticised a lot for calling Israel an “apartheid” state. Langer also wrote books which were highly critical of Israeli forces.

Later, she closed her legal practice and emigrated to Germany in 1990.

She had moved to Tuebingen, located in the south western part of Germany. Here, she started to lecture at universities. But that didn’t stop her from working with the Palestinian refugees.

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In a report by TOI, she said that the legal system in Israel had become “a farce” and that she no longer wanted to serve as its “fig leaf”.

She became a German citizen in 2008.

Awards, Accolades and Resistance

Langer was awarded with the Right Livelihood award in 1990. It is considered an alternative to the Nobel Prize.

She was also presented with Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit. The then president Horst Koehler awarded it to her in 2009. However, this led to a controversy, making other recipients return their own awards.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany claimed that the activist had been “obsessively demonising” Israel and hence it was wrong to honour her.

Tributes flowing in

According to a report by TOI, a Jewish Knesset member for Israeli communist party Hadash Dov Khenin wrote, “Felicia Langer was an example of courage, dedication and commitment, and saw as one of her life’s tasks helping to build a bridge over the abyss of hatred between peoples.”

He added, “In other days that will come, the days of peace, streets and squares will be named after her.”

Picture Credit: The Times of Israel

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Kriti Dwivedi is an intern SheThePeople.Tv

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