Heda Remembers Hana:
Please excuse my chaotic writing but I am trying to recall very distant and buried memories!
On meeting Hana:
One day, all the children from “Kinderheim L410” were temporarily moved to different locations. Our building “L410” was scheduled to be fumigated.
I was in a group of girls who were sent to a house, which still had some space in the attic. There on the dusty, bare floor, we had our burlap straw filled mattresses.
The girl who had her mattress next to me was Hana Brady. We got ourselves organized quickly and soon we talked about our families, our lives before the war and about life around us. Despite the fact that I was 5 years older than Hana, we both enjoyed each other’s company. After several days, we were sent back to our “Kinderheim L410”.
Children, 15 years and older, had to work, mostly in the so-called garden, where vegetables and flowers were grown for the Nazi military. Our supervisor, Mr. Julius Schwarzbart, sometimes allowed even younger children to go out with the working group in order that they would enjoy fresh air and sun. I remember that Hana went with us several times.
Adults, who were mostly former teachers, educators, social workers, looked us after. They all were ready to help us anytime with any of our problems. We were taught how to look after ourselves in a clean and disciplined manner.
The children had to do the dusting, cleaning, sweeping, beds and to keep the bedrooms in order. There was one “teacher – supervisor” assigned to every bedroom. Each bedroom housed approximately 15 -20 children. We slept on three tiered bunk beds.
Drawing and painting lessons were given by Friedl Dicker Brandeis:
It was here where Hana and l often were seated next to each other. I called her “Bradicka” (Little Brady). She liked her nickname. Hana had a very pleasant personality – I will never forget the lesson about “perspective” which we were taught with the help of a pencil. How we laughed during a lesson about “perspective”! Why? We simply had a good time together. Many times Hana asked me to sing for her songs from the well-known act: Voskovec and Werich.
Hana loved the song called “Stonozka”(The Centipede).
Sewing Lessons – on the first floor, in a small room, an unskilled sewing instructor tried to teach us the basic principles of sewing. I knew a little bit about sewing from home (and also I was older than Hana) but Hana was a real beginner and again we laughed at our sewing results. Despite many mistakes and knots, finally, after some effort, Hana put together a blue blouse, which made her very happy.
George, did Hana ever show it to you?
Some teachers made us happy for a few passing moments. Ms. Rozi Shulhof, was a teacher who taught us “czardas” (a Hungarian dance) when we participated in tryouts for the theatrical performance of “Brundibar”. I still remember the melodies from that play.
Otherwise there was omnipresent hunger and fear.
Census – at Bohusovice Flats:
All inhabitants had to leave the camp and assemble on a huge field near Bohusovice. Everybody, old and young. There we were surrounded by armed Nazis, to stand there for hours, even if we forgot the fear of the unknown, without food and drink, we felt quite hopeless. By noon, some younger girls started to cry. We tried to pacify them by sharing the food which some of us were able to take with us. We also asked them not to cry because that was what the Nazis wanted. They wanted to see us unhappy and scared. Amazingly, the girls understood our explanation. When nature called, we older girls made a circle around the little ones and for a moment everybody felt better, helping each other.
The October transports:
In the early fall of 1944, there were rumours going around the camp about possible transports to the East. When the first summons from the “Transport Leitung” (Camp Administration) were delivered, black clouds of fear and desperation fell upon us. The children who were summoned received from the rest of us at L410, all the help we could muster.
The assembly place was called “Slojska” and it was under the supervision of the Nazis, Transport Leitung and Ghetto Police. There was no access to the assembly place without proper papers. We, who stayed behind, put together food and anything else that the children could use, I contributed a few apples which I was able to obtain while working in the gardens.
To deliver that food to our friends was another story. I dressed as “transport hilfe”, which was a person who was officially assigned to help the old, sick and young people in the assembly place.
I put a white scarf on my head, I made my own name tag from a piece of cardboard. My friends helped me conceal the food in my clothing. At the entrance gate to the assembly area, the Ghetto Police checked my name tag and let me in. Once in, I looked for the children from our “Kinderheim L410”, and gave them the little food I had on me, conveyed messages from relatives and friends, then said goodbye, so long, as tears were shed.
I watched how SS officers made the last selection. After that the children, carrying their bags and suitcases, marched towards the waiting cattle cars. That was the last time I saw your sister, Hana. It was in October 1944.
Prior to this, I saw (I saw it twice), how the SS were selecting children for transport. The word “horror” does not convey how I felt. These thoughts have no end.
I bow to the memory of all the children, they should not be forgotten.
Hana’s Childhood Friend