LaGuardia – Gluck, Gemma (1881-1962)

Born in New York City in 1881 to an Italian-Jewish mother and a non-practicing catholic Italian father, Gemma, sister of Fiorello, grew up in New York. The family periodically went back to Trieste, the city of her mother’s aristocratic ancestry. In time she started to teach English there and married one of her students, Hermann Gluck from Hungary and joined him in Budapest. In 1944, as soon as the Germans entered Budapest, the Glucks were on top of their wanted-list because of her brother’s anti-Nazi outspokenness in the US, and were promptly arrested and shipped to concentration camps. Gemma was sent to the notorious women’s camp of Ravensbrueck, north of Berlin and Hermann, her husband was sent to Mauthausen in Austria. Released in Berlin at the end of the war at age sixty-four, together with her daughter and grandchild she found out that her husband perished in Mauthausen. Despite her brother’s prominence and the fact of her US birth, it took another two years for her and the remainder of her family to reach the United States, where she arrived in 1947, a few months before Fiorello LaGuardia’s death of cancer. She lived out the rest of her life in low-income housing projects build by the LaGuardia administration. She died in 1962 at age eighty-one. 

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