23rd June 1919

Jersey refugee Hedy Bercu is born

The story of Hedwig Goldberg, known as Hedy Bercu, is one of the most extraordinary to come out of the German occupation of Jersey. Although born in Austria, Hedy had fled the country with the arrival of the Nazis on account of her Jewish ancestry. She settled in Jersey, unaware that it, too, would fall under Nazi control less than two years after her arrival.

Although forced to register as a Jew she was able to argue that she had no Jewish heritage and that her only Jewish connection was through her mother’s second marriage to a man who was not her father. This was apparently successful, as she not only took up a German boyfriend, Lieutennant Kurt Rummele, whom she later married, but was employed by the German army.

18 months in hiding

However, when she was accused of being involved in an operation to smuggle German petrol coupons, she was forced into hiding for the last year and a half of the war. She faked her own suicide and, despite the size of the island, the number of German troops stationed there and the fact that her boyfriend knew that she was alive and was bringing her food, she was not discovered before liberation when, at last, she could make her presence known.

In January 2018, Dorothea Weber, who had sheltered Goldberg for 18 months, was posthumously awarded the Hero of the Holocaust Medal for an act of courage and self-sacrifice. She had already been awarded the Righteous Among the Nations honour by Israel two years earlier, again posthumously. One other Jersey resident, Alfred Bedane, had also been declared Righteous Among the Nations in 2000.

Weber’s actions were indeed brave, with the German authorities having posted a notice in the Jersey Evening Post stating, “any person who knows the whereabouts of Miss Bercu is requested to get in touch with the Feldkommandantur 515 who will treat any information with the strictest confidence. Anyone concealing Miss Bercu or aiding her in any other manner makes himself liable to punishment”.

To complicate matters yet further, Weber was married to another Austrian who had been conscripted into the German army and returned to Jersey on leave while his wife was sheltering Bercu. Weber died in 1993.


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