“My brother, who was five years older, experienced the full impact of the loss (of his parents). For four days and nights he was alone with younger siblings in the isolated hut. The eight-year-old never thought of going down into the village. Frightened and helpless, despairing more completely with each passing hour and day, he ran into the woods again and again to call just one word: ‘mother.’”
After waiting for days, Helmut led his brother, Wieland (future writer, publisher, and director of Malik-Verlag Publishing [Malik Publishing Company]) and his sisters, Charlotte (Lotte) and Hertha, to “Uncle Ignaz” (Varnschein), the Protestant mayor of Aigen, near Salzberg.
Ignaz gave the children shelter. He had them baptized in the Protestant church. However, the young Helmut (John Heartfield) proved to be a rebellious child. Ignaz tried to keep the children together, but he couldn’t deal with all of them.
Helmut was sent to a Catholic home for children. Catholic nuns often beat him for his bad behavior. Before helping with mass every morning, Helmut secretly prayed to his Protestant God to forgive him for accepting his role in a Catholic service.