Born: May 30, 1922
Hana was born to a Jewish family in Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia. Her father, a metalsmith, made pipes, spouts and gutters for construction companies. Because her mother was frail, Hana was raised by her father and grandmother. She attended a Jewish school through grade five, and later went to business school.
1933-39: In 1933 Hana read about the harrowing treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition and told her grandmother, "We're fortunate that we live in the 20th century in Czechoslovakia and such a thing can't happen to us." Six years later on March 15, 1939, the Germans occupied Prague. It was a cold, snowy day. About a mile from Hana's home the Germans entered the city on tanks and trucks, with their guns pointed toward the rooftops.
1940-44: Hana was in her apartment reading "The Grapes of Wrath" when the Germans came to get her. She was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. The Nazis used Theresienstadt as a "show camp" to convince people that Jews were really being treated well. When the Red Cross came in July 1944, the Nazis put up dummy stores, a cafe, kindergarten and flower gardens to give the impression that Jews there were leading "normal" lives. Hana and other Jews in the ghetto painted the house fronts on the inspection routes and the Nazis gave them extra food--one extra dumpling each.
Hana was deported to Auschwitz in 1944. After some months as a slave laborer in Germany and Czechoslovakia, she was freed when SS guards deserted her work gang on May 5, 1945.