Hélène Jeanty

Visiting the Holocaust Museum has inevitably made me think about my step-grandmother, Hélène Jeanty, whose first husband, Paul, was a leader in the Belgian Resistance.   They were discovered to have a British airman in hiding, but Hélène – or Ninette as she was always known – feigned madness in order for her husband to escape sentence according to Article 51 of the German penal code.   So, she spent the war in an asylum.   At the end of the war, she discovered that Paul had been shot anyway.   She attended the Nuremberg Trials as an observer and met Albert Speer with whom she corresponded for ten years while he was in Spandau Prison (prisoner number 5).   It was one of his letters to her, dated 1971 and sold at Bonhams in 2007, which revealed that he had known of the Final Solution, contrary to what he had written in Inside the Third Reich.

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2 thoughts on “Hélène Jeanty

  1. Gina says:

    How fascinating. I read that correspondence before the sale (and write about it). She seemed to be in love with Speer. He wrote to her with deep affection but began to find her intensity tiresome. I suspect that the relationship was partly based on guilt and his strange way of trying to find atonement.

    • Dear Gina, It’s possible that she was in love with Speer. My grandfather died in 1964 and when I knew her she lived on her own in Madingley Road in Cambridge holding colloques for foreign students. She was intense. Charles

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