Love kept them together: World's oldest couple survived Dachau, loss of assets, flight to U.S.

Survivor, wife world's oldest couple

Herbert and Magda Brown given accolade by 'Guinness Book of World Records,' which determined they are 'oldest-living married couple, aggregate age' with combined age of 205 years, 293 days

PHILADELPHIA - A 105-year-old survivor of the Nazi Dachau concentration camp and his 100-year-old wife have earned the title of the world's oldest married couple.


Philadelphia residents Herbert and Magda Brown were given the accolade by "The Guinness Book of World Records," which determined they were the "oldest-living married couple, aggregate age" on June 9, with a combined age of 205 years and 293 days.


Other couples have been married longer than the Brown's 74-year union, and some individuals are older.


A week earlier, on June 1, English couple Percy and Florence Arrowsmith, also 105 and 100 respectively, were named by Guinness as the oldest-living married couple.


But the Browns contacted Guinness and proved they beat the Arrowsmiths by a few days. On June 13, Percy Arrowsmith died.


"It's unbelievable that we're the longest-married couple in the world," Magda told Reuters in an interview at the couple's assisted-living facility in Philadelphia.


She's the strong one


Asked to explain the great length of her marriage at a time when many marriages end in divorce, Magda said the trick was that she would lead and her husband would follow.


"He is very easy going; I am the strong one," she said. "We never argued, we just had discussions."


In their house, there was no drinking, no gambling and healthy food.


"It was a quiet life," she said.


And they exercised together for as long as they were able. Even at the ages of 98 and 94 they were taking daily walks in the local shopping mall, their daughter, Trudie Solarz, said.


The couple married in Magda's native Hungary in 1930 and then moved to Austria, Herbert's homeland, where he was arrested by the Nazis for being Jewish in 1938.


Herbert was sent to the Nazi work camp at Dachau in southern Germany but was released after two months in return for all of the family's possessions, including the two department stores he owned.


Less money in U.S.


The couple and their only daughter then fled, almost penniless, to London, and then in 1940 to New York and eventually to Philadelphia, where they both worked factory jobs sewing garments.


The high point of her marriage was the birth of her daughter, Magda said, while the low point was when Herbert was taken away by the Nazis.


In Philadelphia they had far less money than they had enjoyed from Herbert's business in pre-World War Two Austria.


Life in the United States was a major economic and cultural shock, but they were at least glad to be safe from the Nazi threat, said Magda.


"We were very happy to be here but it was very, very hard," she said.


פרסום ראשון: 07.17.05, 11:46
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