Ernst Heilmann came from a Jewish family and joined the SPD at the early age of 17. He studied law and political science but first worked as a journalist and parliament reporter. In the First World War, he was badly wounded in action at the frontline. In 1919, he married Magdalena Müller, with whom he had four children. He resumed his activities as a writer and campaigned on behalf of war veterans. However, he devoted most of his time to the SPD: First, as parliamentary party leader in the Landtag of Prussia, and then from 1928 to 1933 as a member of the Reichstag. He wrote numerous articles well in advance against the National Socialists and their plans. Shortly after the SPD was banned, Heilman was arrested by the Gestapo in June 1933. It was the beginning of seven years of abuse, humiliation and torture in various prisons and concentration camps. On April 03, 1940, he was murdered in Buchenwald Concentration Camp.