They followed their conscience…
Germans Against Hitler – the Story of the Helmrich Couple,
Sunday, August 20, 2023 at 2:00 PM EST
Eberhard and Donata Helmrich, from Berlin, were anti-Nazis throughout the Nazi period. A major in the German army, Eberhard was the commander of a large farm in Drohobycz, Poland, supplying the German army with food. Almost two-thirds of his 300 workers were Jews from the nearby ghetto, and thanks to his efforts many of them were saved from arrest or the periodic roundups. Donata saved women by finding housekeeping jobs for them in Berlin under false identities. When asked for the reason of their help at great risks to themselves, the Helmrichs responded, “We figured that once we saved two people we’d be even with Hitler if we were caught, and every person saved beyond that would put us one ahead.”
Eberhard and Donata Helmrich were honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. Their daughter, Cornelia Schmalz Jacobsen, a retired political figure in Germany, has written a book on her parents’ rescue of Jews, entitled Two Trees in Jerusalem.
- August 18-21, watch the animated documentary film Two Trees in Jerusalem on your home device. A link will be provided to all who register.
- Sunday, August 20, 2023 at 2:00 PM EST, tune into the program with our distinguished panel of speakers. A link will be provided to all who register.
Meet the Speakers
Dr. Lucien Yehuda Bronicki was born in Lwow in 1934, and during the Holocaust he was in Drohobycz. In 1946 he moved to France and eventually became a physicist. His father Naftali Backenroth was a Jewish rescuer who worked closely with the Helmrich couple. Dr. Bronicki worked in the Nuclear Research Centre in Saclay (France) then in 1958 emigrated to Israel and joined the National Physical Laboratory to develop solar-powered turbines. He is the recipient of the Israeli Prize for Industry, the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal and the Pioneers Award from the US Geothermal Research Council. He received a PhD (Honoris Causa) both from the Technion Institute of Technology and from the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Cornelia Schmalz Jacobsen is the daughter of Eberhard and Donata Helmrich. She is a retired journalist, author and politician. She was a member of the City Council of Munich and was a Senator of the City of Berlin. In 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag, followed with her government appointment as a Commissioner on immigrant and refugee issues. After retiring from Parliament, she has held a variety of positions in public organizations, including serving as chairwoman of Humanity in Action. Her book, Two Trees in Jerusalem, tells the story of her parents and was published in German, English and Hebrew.
Dr. Mordecai Paldiel headed the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem from 1982-2007. Some of his books on rescue during the Holocaust include The Path of the Righteous, Sheltering the Jews, Saving the Jews, Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust, and Saving One’s Own. He taught at Yeshiva University and Touro College and serves on the Board of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. Thanks to his efforts, there is now a square named for Aristides de Sousa Mendes in Jerusalem. He is a member of the B’nai B’rith committee in Israel honoring Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.