Helmut Michael Borchardt was born in Berlin on 20 October 1922, the son of Jacques Borchardt, a woollens factory owner, and his wife Franziska. He had two younger sisters, Lilli Flora (born on 25 January 1926) and Irene (born on 31 January 1929).
In the 1920s, the family’s fortunes prospered and they lived in a spacious detached house in the elegant Nikolassee area of Zehlendorf. But after the Nazis assumed power, the Borchardts were forced to leave their home at Dreilinden Straße 23 and moved to the inner city. Helmut’s father’s woollens factory was expropriated, depriving the family of its means of existence.
It is likely that Helmut, like his sister Lilli later, attended the Jewish Reform Community’s secondary school at Nürnberger Straße 66.
In May 1939, his youngest sister Irene was able to leave Germany for England on a “kinder transport”. Here, she was taken in by a non-Jewish host family. In a letter to Irene of 13 June 1939, Helmut’s mother described how well he had looked after her during a recent illness. Obviously Helmut no longer attended school by that time.
Half a year later, in December 1939, Helmut Borchardt was arrested in Innsbruck and held in “preventive custody”. The circumstances of his arrest, far away from home, are not recorded. Perhaps he intended to flee to Switzerland or Italy. On 4 December 1939, he was taken to the regional court prison in Hof (on the Saale) and one day later, to Berlin.
By 25 April 1941 he was performing forced labour, initially operating a spinning machine at the Siemens-Schuckert works and later as a machine operator for the Hermann Henseler firm at Hollmann Straße 32 in Kreuzberg.
In June 1941, the Borchardt family was forced to leave their apartment at Pallas Straße 12 in Schöneberg and move to Ebers Straße 18. Here, they occupied two rooms as subtenants of Edith Löwenthal, a photographer.
One year later, on 24 June 1942, Helmut, who had just turned 20, was deported with his father to Minsk on the 16th transport. On arrival, Helmut and Jacques Borchardt were taken by lorry from the Minsk freight station to the Maly Trostinec site of execution a few kilometres away, where they were presumably shot.
On 19 October 1942, Franziska and Lilli Borchardt were deported to Riga and murdered immediately on arrival.