Johanna Falkenstein Heumann

Johanna Falkenstein Heumann

Born: July 24, 1902

Hochneukirch, Germany

The oldest of five children, Johanna was born to Jewish parents living in a small town near Cologne. Her father owned a cigar factory. After Johanna graduated from high school, she worked in a bank in Cologne. At 22 she married Carl Heumann and the couple settled in the village of Hellenthal near the Belgian border. There they owned a general store. The couple had two daughters, Margot and Lore.

1933-39: A year ago Johanna's family moved to nearby Bielefeld, and she enrolled Margot and Lore in the city's public schools. Today, they've been expelled from their classes, and not understanding why, they've come home crying. How can Johanna explain the Nazis' anti-Jewish measures to children who are 7 and 10 years old? Now she'll enroll them in a Jewish school where they'll have teachers who, like them, have been kicked out of the German schools.

1940-44: Johanna's family has been deported from the Theresienstadt ghetto to Auschwitz. Today, their 16-year-old, Margot, has been ordered onto a forced labor convoy. They don't know where she will be taken, but from what they've seen, they fear that she will never return to this camp. Johanna has the option to go with her, but her 13-year old Lore is too young to go, and she's also too young to stay here alone. Johanna can't leave her. Still, how can she find the words to say goodbye to her Margot?

Johanna, her husband, Carl, and her daughter Lore are believed to have perished at Auschwitz. Margot was liberated at Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 and immigrated to America in 1947.