Josephine (nee Schnittlinger) Muller was a Holocaust survivor born in 1933 in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. In 1941, the German army invaded Yugoslavia. That same year, her father was taken away to a concentration camp and murdered leaving her mother to take care of six small children.
Josephine was 7 years old, frail and very skinny and her mother did not think she would survive “on the run,” so she was sent to live with a non-Jewish family in Belgrade, Serbia. They changed her name and told people that she was the daughter of a relative who could not take care of her. She stayed there for two years until someone got suspicious and started to blackmail the family. Since it was too risky to keep harboring her, the family sent Josephine back to her own family who were in hiding. When she was reunited with them, she didn’t recognize her mother or her other siblings.
Over the next few years, Josephine and her family had many close encounters in which they narrowly escaped being identified and found. If they had been caught, they would probably have been killed. Her mother spoke fluent German, and when questioned, would say that her husband was fighting in the German army. When the war was over, the family stayed in various Italian DP camps for war refugees until 1949, when her father’s uncle sponsored them and they were able to leave Europe and come to live in Cleveland.
Josephine graduated from John Hay High School and then worked as a clerk until she met Louis in 1955. They were married four months later. Josephine and Louis raised two children, Sandi and Jeff. Josephine was a loving wife and mother and took pride in running her household. When her children grew up, she worked part time as a bookkeeper at General Tire in Cleveland Heights until retirement.
She welcomed everyone into her home, was known for her delicious cooking and enjoyed spending time with family members, including her many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She had a unique ability to appreciate everything she had in life and always made the best of any situation, never complaining. She had many words of wisdom and was a very caring and empathetic individual who would always lend a hand to help anyone who needed assistance.
Josephine passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer on Dec. 25, 2021, at age 88. She had grit, determination and a desire to live. Josephine was married for 65 years to Louis Muller. She was the loving mother of Sandra (Eugene) Friedman and Jeffrey (Melanie) Muller. She was the daughter of the late Arthur and Elly Schnittlinger (z”l). Josephine was predeceased by her sister, Netty (Boris) Lunacek and brother, Ernest (MaryAnn) Schnittlinger. She is survived by siblings, Fred (Arlene) Schnittlinger, Alex (Betty) Schnittlinger and Leah (Bill z”l) Kagan. Josephine was grandmother to Rosie (Amiad) Tauber, Chana (Natan) Lacher, Dina (Shabtai) Broder, Chaim (Doria) Friedman, David (Shayna) Muller and Elana Muller, who all live in Israel and she was proud of them for making aliyah. She was also grandmother to Aaron (Chayala) Muller. Josephine was fortunate to have 16 great-grandchildren: Noam, Yedidya, Gilad, Yaela, Kama, Shachar, Noga, Talya, Nitzan, Alma, Ari, Shani, Emmy, Channa Etti, Tziporah and Shmuel.
Funeral services were held Dec. 26 at Berkowitz-Kumin-Bookatz Memorial Chapel and interment was at Mount Olive Cemetery.
Friends who wish to make a donation in her memory, may contribute to the Diskin Orphan Home in Jerusalem, Israel, c/o Diskin Orphan Home, 1533 44th St. Brooklyn, N.Y. 11219, or to Oheb Zedek Cedar Sinai Synagogue.