Alte Allee 17
Stone was laid
24 July 2012
23 June 1893 in Werl
on 12 March 1943 nach Auschwitz
Erna Leonhard, née Hirschfeld, was born on 23 June 1893 in Werl. Her big ambition was to become an actress. After attending a Jewish girls’ school, her parents insisted that she learned the basics of secretarial work at a commercial college before enrolling in drama school. Later she performed in various theatres, not only in Berlin, and put together her own literary programmes. Her stage name was Erna Feld or Leonhard-Feld. During the Nazi era she was only permitted to perform at Jewish cultural events so she supplemented her income by working as a secretary for various clients, including the Reich Association of Jews in Germany. This enabled her to live in one of the smallest houses in Eichkamp with her son Leonor, born on 5 April 1923 in Wernigerode. Leonor’s father was the writer Rudolf Leonhard, who provided his son with little more than his good name. Leonor also had a half-brother on his father’s side, Wolfgang Leonhard (born 1921), who became a successful writer after the war. Leonor’s most fraternal relationship was with his uncle Hans Hermann Hirschfeld, 14 years his senior, who was the only one of the family to survive Theresienstadt and Auschwitz and whose unpublished autobiography still survives. On 12 March 1943 Erna Leonhard and her son Leonor, aged 49 and 20 respectively, were deported from Grosse Hamburger Strasse on the “36th transport to the East” to Auschwitz concentration camp and most probably murdered in the camp gas chamber on arrival.