On January 21st 1945, George was liberated from the Death March he was forced onto from the satellite camp he worked in outside of Auschwitz. It wasn’t the end of his journey by a long shot – much of Europe was still occupied and it took him months to get home in May of 1945. However, George always celebrated in some small way on this day – the start of his life as a free man at almost 17. You can be sure that the Brady and Ishioka family continues to mark this milestone.
It has been over 76 years since George and Hana Brady last hugged and since George last saw his beloved sister Hana alive. George returned to Auschwitz in 1998 to try and close the door on the pain and loss he felt over losing his entire family to terrible hatred and injustice. We had no idea then that this was just the beginning of a new chapter for Hana and the Brady family. A mere two years later in the summer of 2000, we received a letter from Japan, inviting us to meet the Small Wings, a children’s group dedicated to world peace, who were fascinated by Hana’s story, and if you’ve found your way to our website – you likely know what happened from there!
Fumiko’s work with the Small Wings at the Tokyo Holocaust Education Research Centre has transformed the tragedy of Hana’s fate into a lesson for Japanese children. Karen Levine and Margie Wolfe have shared this journey with us from Fumiko’s first visit to Toronto, and with their help we have been able to spread the story in such a way that families write to us from across the globe, letting us know that ‘Hana’s Suitcase’ is a book they read, re-read and share.
We want to thank you for having continued to share your letters and emails since George’s passing in 2019. We have continued with our presentations (mostly online in 2020/2021!) and we are continually delighted to hear the impactful stories of children we meet, and about connections kids have made between the injustices Hana and George faced and their own country’s history and social injustice. It never fails to amaze us that we meet children dealing with loss, bullying and hardships around the world who are still optimistic and full of hope, and how much they find inspiration from Hana’s story to take a stand against these injustices.
A fresh website and programming are coming this year – we hope you’ll join us!
In the meantime, we hope that in your classroom or home, wherever you’ve come to learn about Hana’s story – that you share with your peers the need for creating a better world. We hope Hana’s tragedy encourages people to explore history and learn more about the consequences of hatred and intolerance and take an active stand against injustice and hatred.
Lara Hana Brady