Holocaust Memorial Day – Helene Rothschild

My great aunt Helene Rothschild was born on the 6 May 1862 in Ottenstein, the daughter of Siegmund Rothschild. She never married. She stayed in the village and ran the grocery business among her other activities. Family lore recalls that she kept charge of the sefer torah from the synagogue built by the family, and that it was one of the possessions she tried to protect till the end – but while my grandmother saw much of her furniture and linens and silver and art work after the war in the houses of her erstwhile neighbours, the scroll disappeared.  We have one beautiful tablecloth of hers that one neighbour gave to my grandmother.

She had expected to die where she had been born and lived, where her family owned the Jewish cemetery and her father and mother were buried.  Indeed family lore speaks of the grave she had organised for herself there, brick lined, as she didn’t like the cold.

But on 27th July 1942 she was taken first to Hanover -Ahlem along with her carer (she was 80 years old), and from there deported to Theresienstadt.

Amazingly she survived until 14th February 1943, where in House L 120 she died of dysentery.

Here is her photograph as a young woman.

HRothschild Helene from Ottenstein

Here is a photo of her home, and the shop was in the downstairs area to the left of the door.  The photo was taken in the 1970’s when my father went back to see what he could find of family traces.  The house is now entirely gone with no trace that she lived there.

ottenstein house of helene rothschild 8 breiterstrasse

and here, amazingly, is her death certificate, all carefully written out as if her death had been a normal thing


helene rothschild death certificate terezin


There is no grave, brick-lined or otherwise, but she is not forgotten. My father said that after she died he dreamed of her, and she reminded him of her photograph in the family album, and he knew she did not want to be forgotten.


She is not forgotten. And her story will not be forgotten

May her soul be bound up in the ropes of life.





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