Couple who fell in love in a concentration camp celebrates 73 years of marriage

QUEENS — When you hear the story of Max and Hanne Liebmann one word comes to mind: Bashert, Yiddish for “meant to be.” And when you spend some time with them, you realize how meant to be they are.

Hanne said they've been married for 73 years. When asked how they made it work, Max said, "I don't know."

Their love story started in a concentration camp.

Before that, life was pretty normal.

"I was 9 years old, came the boycott of April 1, 1933, with party members standing in front of your business with decals with 'don’t buy from Jews,' and you realize even as a child that things are no longer the same," Liebmann said.

They managed to survive living in their part of Germany until Oct. 22, 1940.

"My mother didn’t want to believe it and when she saw me take one of my father's cases and started to pack she realized I was dead serious," Max Liebmann recalled.

Max and Hanne and 6,500 other Jews were arrested and deported that day to a concentration camp in Gurs, the southern part of France. That’s where the two first laid eyes on each other.

"His mother worked in the office. I was also doing some work in the office and he would come and see his mother and bingo," Hanne Liebmann said.

Even among the inhumane conditions, they managed to survive.

"There was a barrack at the end of the camp that was run by a Swiss nurse who gave us a little supplement of food every day and we’d walk there together," Max said.

They were transferred from the camp, separately from each other, and hidden by people in the village of Le Chambon.

Hanne remembers the last time she saw her mother.

"It was the first train to leave the camp and my mother was on the train. I saw my mother maybe for an hour an hour and a half, and that’s the last I saw or I heard," she said.

Max and Hanne kept in touch and reunited in Switzerland. They married in Geneva in 1945 and moved to the U.S. three years later.

They were separated one more time, when they both came down with tuberculosis and were forced into a sanatorium.

"And we lost actually 2 years," Hanne said.

That was the last and final time Max and Hanne were separated.

Click here for more on Max and Hanne's story and the stories of the thousands of other Jews who were saved by the people of Le Chambon.