The Hellmann family – father Avraham-Adolf, mother Charlotte and children Max-Mordecai (b. 1919), Lilly (born 1921) and Edith-Rina (b. 1923) – lived in Nikolsburg, Czechoslovakia, where Abraham was chief cantor and one of the founders of the city’s Jewish Museum of Bohemia and Moravia.
When the area of Nikolsburg was annexed by the Nazis in 1938, the Jewish community, including the Hellmann family, was given just 24 hours to leave. Avraham, Charlotte, their two daughters and Charlotte’s elderly mother Marie Wohlmuth left for Brünn, where Max was already living as a student. In early 1939, the Hellmanns managed to send their younger daughter Edith to Eretz Israel through the “Youth Aliyah”. Around the time that the Nazis made their entrance, the nineteen-year-old Max, who was active in a Zionist youth movement, left Brünn having joined a group of young people planning to reach Eretz Israel illegally.
On 2 December 1941, Avraham and Charlotte Hellmann were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto together with their daughter Lilly.
In Theresienstadt, Charlotte worked in a factory, while Avraham was active in the Hevra Kadisha (burial society). He also led the prayers conducted in the men’s barracks.
On 28 September 1944, Avraham Hellmann was deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, where he was murdered.
Their daughter Lilly was deported to Auschwitz in October 1944, and was then transferred to the Kurzbach camp in Upper Silesia, a satellite camp of Gross-Rosen. In Kurzbach, she was assigned to forced labor digging anti-tank trenches. In January the camp was evacuated, and Lilly was sent on a death march together with other female inmates, eventually reaching Bergen-Belsen. Lilly survived to see the liberation there, but died of typhus a short time afterwards.
On 6 July 1945, Charlotte left Theresienstadt alone, and returned to Brünn by train. In 1946, Charlotte immigrated to Eretz Israel, where she was reunited with her children Max-Mordecai and Edith-Rina.