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Hela Riemer

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 our family of breaking into the Communist Party's offices, so we escaped to a Polish town near the German border. A few days ago, just before the German invasion [of Poland], we fled again. Elimelech and I split up, and arranged to meet in Lvov. But the invading Germans and Soviets have now divided Poland. Edith and I are stranded in the German sector; my husband, in the Soviet one.

1940-42: Edith and I have made our way to Dukla, where my 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. My brother, who has such a job, has been promised one for me as well, so we're exempted from reporting. I'm afraid for 12-year-old Edith, my mother and my sister. I've told them not to report to the square and to hide in our 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.

Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. Citations

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