Hedda Martens, a retired University of Rochester Professor of Linguistics, grew up in Nazi Germany. When her father died from an undiagnosed brain tumor in 1936, the Nazis cut off the family from aid because they feared the children were inferior and might inherit his disease.
Her mother who was not Jewish, hid Jewish neighbors during the war, cutting Jewish Stars of David off their clothing. Hedda’s family, German citizens was victimized by the Nazis. Her Uncle Hans was interned at Dachau for being a homosexual.
Martens was a witness to the blowing up of the Cap Arcona, a ship full of concentration camp prisoners, “packed in like sardines.” The British drafted 16- and 17-year-old German girls like Martens to pick up the body parts from the explosion. She said the British told them the Germans had put bombs in the prisoner ships. Her whole life she thought that was the Germans who were responsible. It was only recently (2016) that she learned that the truth about the Cap Arcona disaster.
Martens and her siblings eventually emigrated to England and then to the U.S.