Helen Jonas is dedicated to several charities and organizations that help Israeli families. A member of the National Council of Jewish Women, a renowned volunteer organization, Helen serves as chairwoman for the Yad B’Yad Program (Hand-in-Hand with Israel Program). The program supports families in need by providing a wealth of services, such as new computers for schools, playgrounds for preschool centers, programs for single mothers, and assistance to victims of domestic violence.
Helen feels a deep responsibility to speak out about her history and spends the majority of her time educating students about the Holocaust. As she has done for many years, she continues to speak at various colleges, high schools and Jewish Federations, sharing her experiences in hopes of promoting tolerance and acceptance and eradicating hate.
Now retired after working as a university administrator, Monika Hertwig lives with her husband, Reinhart Hertwig, in Weissenburg, Germany, where they are raising their young grandson, David. She continues her efforts to educate young people about the history of the Holocaust.
In November 2008, Monika wrote:
After the filming of Inheritance, I made another trip to Poland, this time with my grandson, David, and my husbandm Reiner. We went to Krakow, Plaszow and Auschwitz. We told David that Auschwitz is a big Jewish cemetery. We also went with him to the old synagogue of Kasimierz. In Berlin, we showed David the Jewish Museum and the synagogue.
Six weeks later I went to Poland yet again, this time with a group of Israeli students, teachers and Holocaust survivors. One of the survivors was Jan, who was a survivor of Plaszow.
We went to several places: Plaszow, Krakow, Schindler’s factory, the ghetto of Lodz, Sdunska Wola, Warschau, Tykocin, Radegast, Lopuchowo, Treblinka, Majdanek, Tarnow and Zakopane. We visited the orphanage of Dr. Korzak in Warschau.
You could not ignore the reality of anti-Semitism in Poland. You could feel it. Most disturbing is the attempt to instrumentalize Auschwitz, a tendency towards Christianization of the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau. We also spent time at the graves of some famous rabbis. Every foreigner mainly sees the absence of Jews and death graveyards in Poland. Behind almost every little village, there is a mass grave with Jewish victims.
The archive in Ludwigsburg was very interesting, because you can find everthing about Plaszow. But Jan knows much more about living in the camp.
Of course, I went to some schools to be in a dialogue with children. Children are interested in history, but the German Education Administration seems to want to reduce history lessons about this time period.
With a team from a German television station, I went to the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Later I went to this camp with a television group from Korea. We met there Dr. Max Mannheimer, the former president of the camp, and also a victim of Auschwitz and Dachau. He also had a “meeting” with Amon [Goeth].
A biography of Amon has since been published in Austria, and I tried to help the author with some information.
Last week, I did an interview with an Israeli film group here in my hometown of Weissenburg.
Next year I am invited to a meeting of the German Protestant church in Bremen with one of the chief public prosecutors in the Eichmann process, Gebriel Bach of Jerusalem.
November 28, 2008
In June 2007, Monika and Helen appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show.