Directions: Click the Stars of David to learn more about Selma Katzenstein’s Tobacco Farm.
SELMA KATZENSTEIN wanted to be a doctor. When her father died during the Depression, though, Selma took over his farm. Obtaining books on scientific agriculture from state and federal agencies, she planted cotton and tobacco. “She loved the whole thing, from the plant bed to the warehouse floor,” recalled her nephew Alex. Katzenstein eventually increased her landholdings to some 2,000 acres and managed twenty-two tenant farms, the largest farm operation of any woman in the state.
When Hitler began persecuting Jews in Germany, Selma Katzenstein saw a chance to help. In 1934, she brought her young German cousin, Herbert Katzenstein, to Warrenton. She became his foster mother and sponsored his education at UNC Chapel Hill. Five years later, she filed affidavits of support to rescue his parents only weeks before World War II began, thus saving them from the Holocaust.