Ursula Klau

[ Age 75 ] Holocaust survivor, comptroller for chemical firm

December 31, 2007

Ursula Klau, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Jewish Survival Group, died of a heart attack Friday. She was 75.

The Pikesville resident worked as comptroller for Inland Leidy Chemical Corp. in Baltimore for about 25 years before she retired in 1997. She was an honored guest of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and participated in several forums where she discussed her experiences as a concentration camp survivor.

As a teenager, Ms. Klau was imprisoned in two Nazi concentration camps - Westerbork in the Netherlands and Baden-Baden in Germany - with her parents. Her father died in one of the camps, and her mother died in her arms when they sought shelter in a barn after being set free after an Allied bombing.

Ms. Klau was rescued by the Red Cross and sent to a tuberculosis sanitarium. Her sister, Helga, found her name on a list of concentration camp survivors, and the two reunited. The sisters moved to New York, where Ms. Klau attended Hunter College.

She moved to Baltimore in the 1950s, and her sister returned to Europe.

Ms. Klau enjoyed traveling to Las Vegas and Aruba to play blackjack, said her close friend Barton Heaps. The two met when Ms. Klau lived in the apartment across the hall from Ms. Heaps' mother more than 40 years ago, and they had been friends ever since.

"She was great with figures," Ms. Heaps said.

"She had a wry sense of humor. She liked music. She liked to dance. She was always there. Friendly, generous."

Ms. Heaps said her friend often hosted get-togethers.

"She entertained elegantly," Ms. Heaps said. "She would bring out her German silver and linens. It was just exquisite."

Ms. Klau was also an animal lover who, at the time of her death, had a cat, dog and pet iguana.

Ms. Heaps said Ms. Klau didn't discuss her Holocaust experience until about 10 years ago, when she joined the survivors' group.

"That and being Jewish - it just colored her whole being," Ms. Heaps said.

A funeral service will be held at noon today at the Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home, 8900 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore.

Ms. Klau is survived by a nephew.

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