Switzerland’s oldest resident died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, a few weeks before her 113th birthday. A spokeswoman for the old people’s home near Italian-speaking Lugano where she lived said Rosa Rein had fallen asleep during the afternoon, and had not woken up.
On her 112th birthday Rein had told journalists she was in good health, although her sight and hearing were not as good as they had been, and she found walking increasingly difficult.
Rein was born into a prosperous Jewish family in Upper Silesia – now part of Poland – on March 24 1897.
She and her first husband, a German, emigrated to Brazil in 1938 as life for Jews became impossible in Nazi-ruled Germany.
Her father died of disease, but her mother perished in a concentration camp.
Rein’s husband died not long after they arrived in Brazil, and she remarried in 1949. She and her second husband moved to Paradiso on the outskirts of Lugano in 1964 for health reasons.
She was widowed for a second time in 1973. She had no children, and no relatives in Switzerland. She moved into the old people’s home after a fall in 2001.
Rein had held the record as the oldest person in Switzerland since September 2006, when her predecessor died at 110. Since June 2008 she had been the oldest Swiss person ever.She is also thought to have been the oldest Jew in the world.
Kama Chinen from Okinawa, Japan, is believed to be the oldest person alive today. She will turn 115 on May 10, 2010.