Hela Riemer

Hela Riemer

Born: April 3, 1901

Dukla, Poland

Hela was raised in Dukla, a Polish village near the Czech border. In 1928 she married Elimelech Riemer and the couple settled in Berlin. Two years later, their only child, Edith, was born. The Riemers lived in an apartment building that housed offices of the Communist Party of Germany.

1933-39: Six years ago, in 1933, the Nazis accused Hela's family of breaking into the Communist Party's offices, so they escaped to a Polish town near the German border. A few days ago, just before the German invasion [of Poland], they fled again. Hela and Elimelech split up, and arranged to meet in Lvov. But the invading Germans and Soviets have now divided Poland. Hela and Edith are stranded in the German sector; her husband, in the Soviet one.

1940-42: Hela and Edith have made their way to Dukla, where Hela's parents live. Life here under German occupation has been relatively quiet until today, August 13, 1942. The Germans have ordered all Jews, except for those with certain jobs, to gather in the town square. Her brother, who has such a job, has been promised one for Hela as well, so they are exempted from reporting. Hela is afraid for 12-year-old Edith, her mother and sister. She has told them not to report to the square and to hide in their apartment building's cellar.

That day all of Dukla's Jews, including Hela, were taken to a nearby forest and shot. Hela's daughter, mother and sister hid in the cellar and were not found by the Germans.