Sharing Hana’s Story – Television


In 2004, Hana’s Suitcase: An Odyssey of Hope was written and narrated by Joe Schlesinger and produced by Jet Belgraver. Appearing first on CBC’s The Passionate Eye; Hana’s Suitcase: An Odyssey of Hope: went on to win a Gemini Award for Best News segment. Click the link for more information:

On March 6th, 2011 CBC aired the television adaptation of the documentary “Inside Hana’s Suitcase”

Sharing Hana’s Story – Film


Most recently, this story has been brought to life in the award winning documentary feature film, “Inside Hana’s Suitcase”. Directed by award-winning filmmaker, Larry Weinstein, and written by Thomas Wallner “Inside Hana’s Suitcase” is a powerful journey full of mystery and memories, brought to life through first-hand perspectives of Fumiko, George and of Hana herself.

The film’s plot unfolds as told through contemporary young storytellers who act as the omniscient narrators. They seamlessly transport us through 70 years of history and back and forth across three continents, and relate to us a story of unspeakable sadness and also of shining hope. For this is a Holocaust story unlike others. It provides a contemporary global perspective and lessons to be learned for a better future.

This film premiered on April 30th, 2009 at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

For more information:

Sharing Hana’s Story – Theatre


Emil Sher transformed Karen Levine’s book into a stage play that features parallel narratives in which the past and present merge, punctuated by ghost-like Figures. He worked with the creative team at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People — artistic director Allen MacInnis and dramaturges Stephen Colella and Nancy Guertin — which lead to the world premiere of Hana’s Suitcase in March 2006. Since then, the LKTYP production has toured to Edmonton (twice), Winnipeg, Vancouver and Montreal. Susan Ferley, artistic director of the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, staged her interpretation of the play in February 2008. Since its U.S. premiere by Metro Theatre Company in St. Louis in January 2007, Hana’s Suitcase has been produced in Lexington, Milwaukee and Chicago. A Hebrew-language production of the play will be staged in Israel in 2010.

The published version of the play – Hana’s Suitcase on Stage – which includes Karen’s original story and Emil’s adaptation in one volume, has been described as “one of the most effective teaching models for Holocaust curriculums available.”

For more information

Sharing Hana’s Story – Print


As a result of the success and interest generated by Karen Levine’s radio documentary Hana’s Suitcase, Karen was encouraged by Margie Wolfe of Second Story Press to adapt it into a children’s book. Published by Second Story Press in 2002, Hana’s Suitcase has been translated into over 40 languages and is available around the world.

For more information:

Hana’s Songs


Click player below to hear the song.

Listen to the song “Hana’s Suitcase” writen and performed by a grade 8 class and their teacher, Gregg Lawless.
Lyrics: Grade 8B class, Ventura Park Public School
Music: Gregg Lawless



Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps

Found in northern Germany, close to the village of Ravensbrück, this Nazi concentration camp was created by SS leader Heinrich Himmler in November of 1938. The camp opened in May 1939 and saw over 130, 000 female prisoners of whom only 40, 000 survived. Hana and George’s mother was sent here in 1941 and eventually deported to Auschwitz in October 1942 where she was killed. While in Ravenbrück, Marketa was rarely allowed to send letters home. In one of these letters, she included in the envelope a gift for her two children and their cousin Vera. Marketa had made charms out of the only possession she had; her rationed bread.

This notorious camp was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps and was located in occupied Poland, next to the village of Oświęcim.

While the camp commander, Rudolf Höss, stated that up to 3 million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau at his trial during the Nuremberg trials, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum believes this figure to be closer to 1.1 million victims. The majority were killed in gas chambers, using Zyklon B but many others were murdered by slave labour, disease, starvation, supposed ‘medical’ experimentation and execution.

Hana and George’s father arrived in Auschwitz on June 11th, 1942 and was killed on July 14th, 1942.



In Terezin, George was lucky enough to be part of the group of boys in L417, Room #1, which encompassed a talented group of boys, aged 13-15. They created: Vedem (In the Lead) which was a Czech language “magazine” that existed from 1942 to 1944 in Terezin. The magazine was made up of poems, stories, plays, literary reviews, essays and drawings which often described everyday life in the ghetto. It was hand-produced and contributed to by many very talented boys. In particular, it was led by editor-in-chief Petr Ginz and featured many poems by Hanus Hachenburg. The magazine was written, edited, and illustrated entirely by these young boys. Altogether, some 800 pages of Vedem survived the war, of the 100 boys who contributed, only 15 survived.



Built in the late 18th century, Terezin was originally intended as a military fortress and garrison. It served this purpose numerous times but was eventually used by the Nazis as ghetto and prison for the Jews of Czechoslovakia and surrounding countries. Theresienstadt is the German name for Terezin.

Children’s Homes (Kinderheim) in Terezin.
Most of the children lived in separate rooms or Kinderheims separated for boys and girls. The Jewish Council tried to shield the children from the realities of Terezin. They had better food and living conditions than many of the adults. Children under the age of 14 often attended secret classes. They had lessons in the morning and physical activity or games in the afternoon. During classes, held mostly in attics, students and teachers kept watch for guards so that they could quickly pretend to be doing other activites.

  • 140,000 people were held prisoner at Terezin from 1942-1945.
  • 87,000 people were deported east to death camps, mostly to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  • Of those deported to death camps, 3,600 survived.
  • 34,000 died in Terezin primarily from malnutrition, disease and suicide.
  • On May 9, 1945, 17,000 people remained in Terezin.
  • 15,000 children were sent out east and of those deported to death camps, under the age of 15, less than 300 survived.

Jewish Museum in Prague (home of the Children’s Art Collection of Terezin)



  • Here is a sample of some of those restrictions.
  • Jews are banned from practising law
  • Jews are banned from working in public institutions
  • Jewish doctors are banned from working at all health facilities
  • Jews are banned from public and café rooms
  • Jews are banned from swimming pools and sports grounds
  • Jews are banned from German universities
  • Jews are ordered to immediately hand in radio sets
  • Jews are placed under 8 PM curfew
  • Jews may be dismissed from their jobs without reason
  • Jews are expelled from all associations/clubs
  • 1940
  • Jews are obligated to declare the value of their assets
  • Jews are banned from theatres and cinemas
  • Identity cards of Jews are marked with the letter “J”
  • Anyone to whom the Nuremberg Laws apply is obligated to register with the Nazis
  • Jews are banned from entering all public parks and gardens in Prague
  • Jews are allowed to board only the rear carriage of trams
  • Jews are banned from breeding pigeons
  • Jews are banned from travelling on steamboats
  • Shopping hours for Jews are restricted: 11 AM–1 PM and 3 PM–4:30 PM
  • Jewish children are banned from attending schools
  • Jewish apartments are confiscated and reallocated to Germans
  • Prague Jews may no longer obtain clothing ration cards
  • All Jewish bank accounts are frozen
  • 1941
  • Jews are banned from German streets in the centre of Prague
  • All telephones are confiscated from Jews
  • Apple rations are taken from Jews
  • Jews are ordered to hand in their driving licences
  • Jews are banned from fishing
  • Jews may no longer obtain sugar rations
  • Retroactive ban on marriage between Jews and Reich nationals
  • Jews are banned from all woods and forests
  • Jews are forbidden to leave their district without permission
  • All Jews over 6 are forced to wear the yellow Star of David
  • Jews are banned from public libraries
  • Music by Jewish composers may not be broadcast or performed
  • Jews are forbidden to smoke tobacco
  • Jews may no longer obtain shaving soap
  • It is forbidden to provide Jews with fruit or candy
  • It is forbidden to sell or give Jews marmalade or jam
  • It is forbidden to sell cheese to Jews
  • It is forbidden to sell or give Jews fish, poultry or game
  • Jews lose their entitlement to sick pay, holiday pay and overtime
  • Jews may only be employed in groups
  • Jews may no longer obtain onions
  • Total ban on Jews using trolleybuses