Who was Juliette Herman (1907-1945)?
Born in Brussels on 4 January 1907. She lost both of her parents at the age of 12.
On 25 March 1919, she entered the Hospice for orphans of the Kortenberg Avenue, together with her two year older sister Marguerite.
She stayed in the orphanage until she was 18. During that period, in 1924, Juliette launched herself in studies to become school mistress which she concluded in a brilliant way.
During one year, she exercises this profession at the Marine Préventorium centre of Klemskerke. As of 1926, Juliette teaches at the “Jardin d’enfants nr. 5, rue des Fleuristes” in Brussels, situated in the heart of the Marolles, a popular area in the centre of Brussels.
In the mid 30’s she becomes a member of the World Committee of Women against the war and fascism (Comité Mondial des Femmes contre la guerre et le fascisme). She defends the rights of the prisoners and organises collections of cloths and food in order to improve the living conditions of these women, as well as those of their children and of refugees.
When World War II starts, Juliette – naturally – enters the resistance movement. In September 1941, together with other women, she organises a demonstration against the shortcomings in the food-delivery. The slogans were “Bread and milk for our children” and “Potatoes and bread”. These slogans did not please the occupational forces. The police took a photo of her at the head of the demonstration. She was denounced to the Gestapo, who organised a search at her house in the rue Watteeu. Her apartment was full of pamphlets, clandestine journals; a typewriter was confiscated. (Juliette had found no other place to store them). She was preparing another demonstration to denounce the incoherence between the food shortages on the one hand and the greed of the occupational forces, on the other.
Several sources state that Juliette was able to warn a friend, who rang her bell, that the Gestapo was in the house, shouting from her balcony. Her friend was able to flee.
However, Juliette was imprisoned in Saint-Gilles and later in Forest. Three months later she is sentenced – by a German court – to twelve years of hard labour.
On 15 January 1942 she was deported to the prison of Krefeld (Germany). At the beginning of 1944 she is transferred to the prison of Jawor (Silesia). According to fellow prisoners she always kept her moral high. She supported the weakest prisoners. These actions let to the fact that she was often put in solitary confinement.
On 28 January 1945, when liberation was near, the SS forced her – together with 1100 prisoners – to leave Jawor. They were subjected to forced march in the snow in freezing cold (-25•C).
After nine days, she arrived at the Görlitz concentration camp where she died on 12 January 1945. She was only 38.