Henry Helmut Herz was born Helmut Herz in 1921 in Obertiefenbach, Germany. His family owned a dry goods store. The only other Jewish family in their town was Henry’s cousins. The family was Orthodox and religious. Henry had a Bar Mitzvah. He graduated from grammar school in 1934 but did not continue his education. His parents felt that it was risky and it would be better for Henry to learn a trade.
By 1934, Henry’s parents knew that it was time to leave Germany. In 1938, Henry’s parents relocated him from Nuremberg (where he had been learning the upholstery trade with relatives) back to Obertiefenbach to prepare to leave Germany. They intended to join Henry’s brother in the United States. His family was not arrested during Kristallnacht as Henry was too young and his parents too old.
After Kristallnacht, the family rushed to emigrate and Henry’s other brother got the family visas to Bolivia within two weeks. They left Germany in 1939. In one year the town they lived in, La Paz, grew from a population with no Jews to one including 20,000 Jews.
In 1950, they moved to Massachusetts. Henry had an upholstery business. Henry married Britta, a German woman who ultimately converted for Henry. He remarried in 1988 after she passed away in 1984.