Born and raised in Berlin, Helga recalls seeing Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazi officials as they drove through the streets of the capital. When Hitler took power, her school began to teach about ‘Aryan superiority,’ and she recalls that a Jewish friend was the only classmate whose head had the perfect ‘Aryan’ proportions. A teenager when the war began, she was assigned to a job in a munitions factory. For that reason she was not taken away to a concentration camp with her parents, whom she never saw again. Realizing that she too would eventually be liquidated, she ‘went underground’ with the help of her father’s Gentile friend Emil Krollzig. Amazingly, she survived the war years living right in Berlin under a false identity. She was there when Soviet troops captured the city in April 1945. With the help of American officials she was able to board a ship for the United States. In the mid-1980s she visited Germany and was reunited with Emil’s widow. Helga still resides in the Dayton area.
Berlin was the old capital of Prussia and, after 1871, of united Germany. During the Nazi era it was home to thousands of high-ranking military and civil officials, the headquarters of the SS and SA, and for a time, the real nerve center of Europe. Throughout Helga’s time ‘underground,’ Nazis were everywhere, almost literally underfoot. Moreover, Berlin suffered hundreds of Allied bombing raids between 1940 and 1945 – some 76,000 tons of explosives, five times the power of the first atom bomb. Berlin was largely rubble when the Soviet army marched in on May 1, 1945. Helga Levy never left the city, and her survival is nothing short of miraculous.