Born: Kisvarda, Hungary
January 2, 1931
The youngest of eight children, Helen was born and raised in a religious Jewish family living in a town in northeastern Hungary. She was the "baby" of the family and the focus of everyone's hopes and affection. Although her Hebrew name was Hannah, her family called her by her nickname, Potyo, which meant "the dear little one."
1933-39: Helen liked school, but was afraid because some of the kids and teachers hated Jews. There was talk that there might be a war. Her mother wanted them to leave Hungary before things got worse, but her father, who had been to America before, was reluctant to take the family there because he thought it was not religious enough. But he finally gave in and managed to return to New York, where he tried to get them immigration papers.
1940-44: The immigration papers arrived too late; Hungary was at war with America. Helen began to suffer from nightmares. Following an absence due to illness, Helen was forbidden to return to school because she was Jewish. Later, Hungarian police forced the Katzes to move into Kisvarda's ghetto. On May 28, 1944, they were ordered to be ready to travel at 4 a.m. Helen stayed close to her mother as they boarded a cattle car. It was dark inside and she huddled next to her.
Helen was killed upon arrival at Auschwitz on May 31, 1944. She was 13 years old.