Born: April 14, 1909, Offenbach, Germany
Helene, called Herta, was born to a Russian-Jewish father and a German-Jewish mother in a town on the Main River, near Frankfurt. Her father had immigrated to Germany from Russia in 1890. Her mother had automatically taken on her husband's Russian citizenship when she married. In 1914 Russia and Germany went to war, and Russians living in Germany were considered "enemy aliens."
1933-39: Herta married Siegfried Wohlfarth in 1933 and could change from being "stateless" to taking on his German citizenship. The Nazis were in power and Siegfried had been fired from his job because he was Jewish. Now that Herta had citizenship, she could get a German passport and leave the country. In 1934 the couple left for Amsterdam. There Herta gave birth to a daughter, Doris, and by 1937 had become an interior decorator.
1940-44: The Germans occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. When the Wohlfarths were told to report to the train station at 1:30 a.m. on July 15, 1942, to go to a work camp, Siegfried and Helene decided to go into hiding. For a year they had prepared for this by not kissing or hugging their daughter so she wouldn't miss them when they left her with Christian friends. Aided by the Dutch underground, Helene and Siegfried hid together in several locations until August 25, 1944, when they were both arrested.
Herta survived deportation to Auschwitz and was liberated in the Kratzau work camp by Russian troops on May 9, 1945. She and her daughter emigrated to the U.S. in 1947.
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