On 12 March 1938 she looked down from a window of her house. German troops marched into Vienna, masses of people were lining the street cheering their arrival with swastika flags in their hands. Within a short time Helga's life changed and nothing was ever as before.
In July 1938 she was sent to live with her relatives in Kyjov, a Czech town in Moravia. On 1939 her mother fled to England. Her parentes managed to put her on a list for a children's trransport to England. But then the war broke out and crossed the plan.
In 1941 her father could join her in Kyjov. Together they were transported to Theresienstadt Ghetto in January 1943, along with their family and the Jewish population of Kyjov and the surrounding area.
Between 27 January 1943 and 23 October 1944 Helga lived in the Girls' Home L 410, in Room 28. There were wooden-bunk beds for about 28 girls, most of them born 1930. Here in Room 28 Helga entrusted her experiences and thoughts to her diary, her closest friend. The diary reveals a reflective young girl, captures the atmosphere in Room 28 and gives an idea of the underlying tragedy. It was Helga's diary that made it possible for me to write the book "The Girls of Room 28".
But the book "My Theresienstadt Diary" is her book, it tells her personal story and that of her father and family. You learn about herdeportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, then to the working-camp in Oederan/Saxony and how she returned to Theresienstadt in April 1945 where she met her father again and, in May 1945, experienced the end of the war.
On 4 April 1940 Helga's most fervant wish came true: An airplane took her to England where she reunited with her mother. She has not seen her for more than seven years. A new life began.
In 1951 she married the German refugee Gerhard Kinsky from Rössl/East Prussia. He had
escaped the nazi danger and had found shelter in Athiopia. With her husband she moved to Bangkok, then to Addis Abeba. In the Far East her two children were born.
Meanwhile, Helga's father resettled in Vienna. In 1957 she came back to Vienna with her family to live near her father. Vienna became again her home.
In 1998 Helga Pollak-Kinsky put her Theresienstadt diary to the service of our common cause: to create a lasting memory to the girls from Room 28 and to the children of Theresienstadt who did not survive the Hololcaust: It was also meant as a tribute to those adults in the Ghetto who took care of them when they were children and taught them values that became essential for their lives.
It was already before I met Helga in 1996 that she and her friend Anna Hanusová (Flaska) had started to look for traces of the girls who once lived in Room 28. And they had asked their friends who lived with them in Room 28 and had survived, to join in and look for their documents and to write down what they remember.
Betweenn 1998 and 2003 we came together every September in Spindermühle in the Giant mountains to walk and talk and to work together. There in Spindlermühle I recorded countless interviews and common workshops, but also in their homes in Israel, England, in the Czech Republic or Vienna. In 2004 our common project finally led to the publication of the book and creation of the exhibition The Girls of Room 28.
In 1999 I started to interest publishers in the story of these girls. Some of them expressed interest in Helga's diary alone. At that time Helga would never allow to have her diary published separately. This would have meant to impair the common project and to betray it.
Helga and her diary plays the most essential role in the project with "The Girls of Room 28".
I was happy that finally Helga was ready to have her complete diary published and to tell her own personal story and that of her family.
And I am happy that after many years of unceasing committment - giving testimony of her experiences, reading from her diary and talking in many places and on various occasions - Helga Pollak-Kinsky was finally honored officially by the Federal Republic of Germany and by her homeland Austria.
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