ⓘ Hedwig Porschütz

                                     

ⓘ Hedwig Porschutz

Hedwig Porschutz was active in the German resistance to Nazism. She was recognised posthumously as Righteous Among the Nations for aiding and rescuing Jews during the Holocaust.

                                     

1. Life

Hedwig Volker was born in 1900 in Berlin-Schoneberg. In 1926 she married Walter Porschutz, who was then a chauffeur and would later be conscripted into the Wehrmacht. During the Great Depression she became a prostitute, and in 1934 she was accused of blackmail and sentenced to ten months in prison.

                                     

1.1. Life World War II

From 1940, Porschutz worked in Otto Weidts workshop for the blind as a stockroom worker and later stenotypist. They were in close contact, and she significantly assisted Weidts effort to protect his employees by hiding Jewish women in her home and illegally trading for supplies.

The twins Marianne and Anneliese Bernstein stayed in Porschutz apartment for six months starting from January 1943. In March they were joined by Grete Seelig and Lucie Ballhorn. Occasionally prostitutes would use the apartment – then the occupants would have to wait outside until the clients were gone. When the situation ultimately became too dangerous, due to police raiding another apartment in the same building in mid-1943, the Bernstein twins relocated to Wilmersdorf while Porschutz mother sheltered the other two women. Three of the four would survive the Holocaust.

Goods Porschutz bought on the black market would be given to persecuted Jews and used to bribe Gestapo officers. Otto Weidts group sent more than 150 food parcels to Theresienstadt Ghetto to supply at least 25 people imprisoned there. Porschutz also procured forged documents for Inge Deutschkron. Due to her black market trade, Porschutz was sentenced to 18 months in prison in October 1944 by a Nazi Sondergericht. For a time she was imprisoned in Zillerthal-Erdmannsdorf, a subcamp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp.

                                     

1.2. Life Later life

After the war, her activities went unrecognised for many years. Her requests to be compensated for political persecution and to be titled an "Unsung Heroine" were rejected by West Berlin authorities in 1959. Authorities at the time did not consider helping Jews an act of resistance. Due to her prior work as a prostitute Porschutz was regarded as an immoral and dishonourable person. The 1944 judgement, despite having been delivered by a political court, was used against her. She died poor in 1977; no known photos of her exist.

                                     

2. Legacy

It took until November 2010 for Porschutz to be honoured by the city of Berlin with a memorial plaque, which was later placed at her former address FeurigstraSe 43. By 2011 the 1944 judgement was repealed on the basis that the Nazi court made political judgements to execute the "Fuhrers will". Yad Vashem recognised her as Righteous Among the Nations in 2012, a commemoration ceremony was held three years later. A street in Berlin Mitte was named in her honour in 2018 Hedwig-Porschutz-StraSe.