Dora Heyke was born in 1912 in Göltzschen near Leipzig. When she was a small girl with with a black bob, Germany was governed by an emperor. Radio and television had not yet been invented, and most people travelled from place to place on foot or by horse and wagon. Later, the family moved to an estate near Magdeburg, where Dora’s father was a worker.
Dora Heyke survived two world wars and four Germanys. She didn’t believe in fascism, socialism, or capitalism, but rather that ordinary people have to pay for what the few in power have done. There was war when she was a child, and there was war when she was raising her own daughter. There were Reichsmarks, DDR marks, D-marks, and Euros, but too few of all of them. Dora Heyke was trained in the fur business of a Jewish family in Leipzig that was later destroyed by the Nazis. After the war, she worked in a variety of jobs, and for the last thirty years, until the age of 78, she worked as a vegetable seller. Afterwards, she grew vegetables in her garden.
There are many pictures of Dora Heyke. Her appearance hardly changed at all in her later years. She was a beautiful grandma at 74, and she was still a beautiful grandma at 94. She was always proud of her thick hair, and she set great store by regular visits to the hairdresser.
On the afternoon of April 5, 2006, Dora Heyke must have sensed that her life was at its end. She called her daughter. Her grandson came, the photographer Ludwig Rauch. He sat with her for awhile, held her hand. She was half there, and she was half gone. Dora Heyke did not believe in paradise. Despite this, she spoke sometimes of the hope of joining her husband and companion, Ludwig Heyke, who had died twenty-three years before her.
Dora Heyke died in the evening of April 5. Ludwig Rauch stayed with her through the night in the morgue at Hohenschönhausen where her body was kept. On April 24, according to her wishes, her urn was placed in a field of flowers in the Treptow forest cemetery. A trumpeter played her favorite song “It is evening”. Her youngest great-grandson placed a branch in her grave, which he had cut for her years before and which was found with her when she died.