Benno and Irmgard Heller

At the end of the thirties, the Jewish doctor Dr. Benno Heller had together with his wife Irmgard –who was not Jewish-, a gynecological center in Neukölln, Berlin. They were both communist of strong convictions, even though they retired from actively participating in the party after they visited the Soviet Union. Due to his performance of illegal abortions, Benno Heller had been imprisoned before 1933. Irmgard came from middle –class family, but she broke up from the family links and committed herself to the people of the working-class town of Neukölln.
During the pogrom in November 1938, the Hellers were affected by Anti-Semite violence when the word ”Jew” was painted on their medic badge in the front door. When the deportations of Jews started in October 1941, the Hellers told their Jewish patients not to let themselves be deported and to stay on the underground. At that moment, Benno Heller was still protected by his ”Arian” wife. He put in contact with his non-Jewish former patients asking them to lodge those women who were in peril. Many of these patients felt committed with Heller because of their previous medical treatments, which in many cases had been free. His office became an accommodation house for ”illegal” and a coordination center for their housing.
The couple’s aim was helping as many persecuted as possible. But when a dispute took place between a Jewish patient, whom Heller had put in the underground and a non-Jewish woman whom he had asked her help, Heller was reported to the police by the persecuted.
On February 23rd, 1943 he was arrested in his apartment. First, he was deported to an external Auschwitz camp. One of the last signs of his life belongs to the year 1944, of an auxiliary camp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. From that moment onwards there is no more information about him.
After her husband’s apprehension, Irmgard Heller health state, who already had a heart condition, became worse. On September 15th, 1943 she passed away at the Leipzig municipal hospital. Some of Bruno Heller’s non-Jewish patients continued with their helping activities even after Bruno’s arrest and Irmgard Heller’s death.