Karoline Hecht

Brunnenstr. 195
Stone was laid
March 2007
20 November 1896 in Posen / Poznań
on 17 March 1943 to Theresienstadt
05 December 1944 im Ghetto Theresienstadt
Karoline Blond was born on 20 November 1896 in Posen. She was one of eight children born to Jewish husband-and-wife Isidor and Auguste Blond. On 14 March 1920, when she was 23, she married Paul Hecht, a teacher and cantor, who was one year and five days younger than her. Like her, he came from Posen, where he had graduated from the Jewish Cantorial School and had been awarded a Wound Badge for his services in the First World War. Karoline Hecht had four daughters, born over a period of twenty years. Her eldest daughter Ruth was born on 24 December 1920 in Kosten (Polish: Kościan), a small town some 45 kilometres south of Posen. Eva was born on 3 October 1922 in Militsch (Polish: Milicz) in Lower Silesia; Erika on 28 August 1930 in Königsberg. From 1925 on, Paul Hecht was a teacher, cantor and chairman of the Reich Federation of Jewish Frontline Soldiers and of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith in Rastenburg (Polish: Kętrzyn), some one hundred kilometres from Königsberg. In the 1930s, the Hecht family moved to Berlin. Their youngest daughter Tana was born in the Jewish hospital here on 18 April 1940. Karoline Hecht was a housewife while her husband worked as a cantor in the synagogue on Kaiser Straße from 1938 to 1942.
The Hechts lived with their two younger daughters at Brunnen Straße 195 in Mitte. Later, all six family members lived together again in what was presumably their last voluntarily occupied home, at Rosenthaler Straße 40/41 – in the Hackesche Höfe courtyard complex. On 17 March 1943, Karoline Hecht was deported with her daughters and husband on the “4th major transport of the elderly” to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Karoline’s daughter Erika, then just 13 years old, wrote to the Jewish photographer Abraham Pisarek, who had apparently been sending her food parcels from Berlin, on a postcard from Theresienstadt dated 8 August 1944: “Our dear mummy is very ill, and Tana is not well yet either. We are very worried about them both.”
Karoline Hecht’s second-eldest daughter Eva was taken to Auschwitz on 16 October 1944 and murdered there. A stumbling stone was laid in her memory at Landhaus Straße 44 in Wilmersdorf. Ruth and Erika were also deported to Auschwitz, where they were made to perform forced labour in an ammunition factory. They both survived.
Karoline Hecht died on 5 December 1944 in Theresienstadt, a few weeks after her 48th birthday. Following her death, her widower hid four-year-old Tana in his room before convincing a doctor who worked in Theresienstadt to admit her to a tuberculosis sanatorium, where she was able to stay until the camp’s liberation. After liberation, Paul Hecht ran the Berlin Jewish Community’s transition home. Ruth Hecht married and emigrated to Boston in 1946. Her sister Erika joined her there later, as did her father with eleven-year-old Tana in the early 1950s. Of Karoline Hecht’s seven siblings, only her sisters Recha, Zilla and Paula survived Nazi persecution.
Karoline Hecht’s gravestone is in the cemetery at Schönhauser Allee 23-25. It bears the inscription: “On 5 December 1944 | 19 Kislew 5705 in Theresienstadt concentration camp my dearest adored precious wife our unforgettable loving mummy Karoline Hecht died”.