When Chris started working at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, we asked our former neighbor Helga if she would be interested in sharing her story. I am so glad Helga agreed to be interviewed. Helga had told me a few things in person and I had watched videos of presentations she gave years ago. But this interview really covers so much of what Helga experienced and I am thankful to have it now that Helga has passed away.
Helga and her husband Heinrich (we called him Henry) lived behind us when we lived in Orlando. I always enjoyed talking to her and petting her Corgi and German Shepherd.
Here is the link to view Helga’s interview on the USHMM website.
Helga Niedrich (née Mader), born on April 20, 1929 in Witkowitz, Czechoslovakia, discusses her family and early childhood spent with her grandparents in Leipnik, Czechoslovakia (Lipník nad Bečvou, Czech Republic); attending German school; moving with her mother and stepfather to Stadt Liebau, a village in the Sudetenland; her mother’s work for the National Socialist Women’s League and her stepfather’s membership in the SA; her time in the League of German Girls; her memory of Hitler and the Nazis marching into the village; the food rations and her work on a farm once the war began; her stepfather’s conscription into the army and his eventual capture by the Soviets; the camp for British prisoners of war outside of the village; having no knowledge of the extermination of Jews during the war; fleeing the Soviet soldiers at the war’s end; her mother’s sexual assault; eventually arriving in Prague and staying in a stadium; her and her mother’s transport to Theresienstadt on May 24, 1945; the 15 months she spent there as a forced laborer; her and her mother’s transport to the Soviet zone of Germany and their work on a farm there; their escape to the British zone; visiting the Czech Republic later in life; her move to be with a friend in Braunschweig, Germany; her stepfather’s fate; meeting and later marrying her husband; her family’s immigration to the United States; her visits to Israel; learning more about the camps later in life; the dangers of Holocaust denial; and the guilt and shame she sometimes feels about her German heritage.