THE BRADY FAMILY
The Brady family played an integral role in the Czech town of Nove Mesto Na Morave: running the local general store and participating in community events and sports.More About Me
HanaMore About Me
Hana was born May 16, 1931 and lived with her parents and her brother George, older by three years, in a yellow house on the main square of the town of Nove Mesto. Living above the family store, life was very full and exciting for Hana. Whether skiing or fighting with her brother, Hana has endless enthusiasm and energy! However, in most cases, her generous spirit is what friends and family remember most.
Life changed drastically for Hana when the Nazis enforced restrictions and terrible measures on Hana’s family. After her parents’ arrest in 1941, Hana herself was deported with George to Terezin in May of 1942. Celebrating her 11th birthday in transit, Hana and George were finally separated on May 18th, when they arrived in Terezin.
In Terezin, Hana led an active life and was lucky enough to participate in secret classes. Partaking in art and music lessons, Hana tried to maintain any normalcy she could even after her brother was sent out east in September of 1944. Eventually she herself was deported in October of 1944, to Auschwitz. On October 23rd, 1944, Hana was killed immediately on arrival at Auschwitz.
Memories of Hana
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 September/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
Alena Remembers Hana:
We remember best what happened in our childhood and our youth, and that’s the time we like to remember best.
Our town was never large; the families all knew each other, and it wasn’t any different in our family. My parents knew the whole Brady family very well and when time permitted, we visited each other as friends. Several times my brother and I took part in such visits with great enthusiasm. My brother and George were always getting into things (Hanicka and I, as little girls, held them back a little), investigating and discovering everything. Like every old house, the Brady house breathed with the spirit of the generations, and with a little mystery as well, and for boys who were excited by the spirit of the Boy Scouts, it was a source of discovery. Long, secretive corridors in the basements where there were wonderful places to hide, the garden that went right down to the brook, the gazebo. Unfortunately, our parents found our high spirits too much to bear, so mother cut off our visits and the parents went by themselves.
My uncle, my mother’s brother, the head teacher Rudolf Kleveta, was Hana’s class teacher. Sometimes the teachers had to be away, and they asked for someone to take their place – and so my mother, who was also a teacher, sometimes taught George and Hanicka.
The uncle and the aunt of the Brady children were the Hajeks, who were special people. Whenever Dad would make any reference to Ludvik Hajek, he’d always refer to him, familiarly, as Ludvicek. My mother was the class teacher of their daughter Veruska. I think that the Brady children found the last feeling of family love before they left Nove Mesto with their uncle, aunt and cousin.
Every week, we would go with Dad on a visit to our godmother, the teacher, Maryna Nedvedova, in the house next to the Brady’s, or to the academic painter Karel Nemec, who was our godfather and a great friend of Dad’s and at the same time, a close acquaintance of the Brady family. We’d always stop in at the Brady’s store and Dad would buy me a chocolate that Mrs. Brady would pick out.
I always looked forward to seeing Mrs. Brady. My parents were already used to my endless questions, but Mrs. Brady never minded answering them and she would show me everything in the store. And there was lots to look at; the store was always busy; there was always something going on. People used to say that you could shop better at the Brady’s than anywhere else. During the year, Dad would do the shopping at the Brady’s, and before and during the Christmas season, Mom would look after it, including the poultry we’d ordered. I always asked Mom to let me help her. For me, the greatest culinary delights were the large, pitted dried plums from Bosnia. We really loved those and Mom would buy them for me. I don’t think you can get such delicious plums any more like the ones from Bradys when I was young.
Another unforgettable experience was a huge apple, as yellow as a lemon, called “Ontario.” Such goods were brought in tall, beautiful crates made of thin, split wooden slats. Each apple was wrapped in thin tissue paper and packed in the crate – and that indescribable aroma – Mrs. Brady showed me everything. Later, whenever I travelled abroad, I would never forget to visit the marketplace and ask for “Ontario” apples, but they never had them. Whenever I went shopping with Dad, Mrs. Brady would stuff plums into all the pockets of my apron (back then, little girls wore aprons over their dresses). She never forgot about the plums. Mr. Brady would take Dad outside the shop and there they would talk together and laugh.
When I was young, there was a lively social life in our town. Citizens met with each other, there were outings to Plaskovec forest, and in summer, on Thursday and Saturdays, there were goulash parties with dancing at the Sokol hall (where the billiard room is today). Then there were balls – Sokol balls, skiing balls, sports balls, student balls, merchants’ balls. Karel and Marketa attended them all – or “the young Bradys,” as they were called. They were very well liked in society. Everyone sat at long, common tables, as my parents often told me, and they remembered those occasions to the end of their lives.
Another meeting place was the Harusak Hut; a destination for hiking excursions. The young Bradys were seldom missing from such occasions. The main crowd were fans and lovers of skiing and Mr. Brady was a great sportsman and was active in skiing in Nove Mesto. The tenant of the resort, Mr. Stepanek, set up a swing for us between the tall trees, and it was paradise. You could swing very high on the swing, but you could go highest of all if you stood up on the wooden seat. That was forbidden, but I did it all the same; my brother Pavel pushed me and I flew! But I had new soles on my shoes, and at the highest point of the swing I slipped, lost hold of the rope, and fell down among the roots of the trees. My brother ran into the cottage, shouting that I’d killed myself on the swing. Dad ran out, but Mr. Brady was the first to reach me, and he took me into his arms and put me in the car he and his wife had come in, and he took Dad and me to the doctor. It turned out fine; I had the wind knocked out of me, and a huge bruise on my bottom, a bloody nose, and scratches. In a week, everything was okay, but my family always remembered gratefully that during that week, the Bradys sent someone from the store to the school every day to ask my mother how I was doing.
I look back at my childhood experiences over the distance of time, and even though I’m old, I still see them like a child, and in my case, my memories are always related to the Brady family. As they say – time has borne it all away – and I only regret that my brother Pavel didn’t live to see George’s frequent visits to our house. When those near and dear to us depart, all that remain are memories. As my mother used to say, no one can steal your memories, and it is in these memories that our nearest and dearest can always come back to us.
GeorgeMore About Me
George was born in 1928 and his sister Hana in 1931 - they were the only Jewish children in town and while restrictions and Nazi laws affected them - true disaster came when their parents were arrested in the spring of 1941 and fall of 1941. The same fate came for the children in May of 1942. Like so many others, George and Hana had no idea what they were headed as they joined the deportations.
Their first official destination was the town of Terezin.
Upon arrival George was sorted in Room 1 - L417. His sister to Room 28 in another building (L410). In George’s Room - 40 boys were thrown together - 100 passing through Room 1 throughout 1942-1944 but they were lucky enough to have the leadership of a young man by the name of Valtr Eisinger. He encouraged them to create their own government, and they took this to the next level, creating a judicial system and most remarkably - a newspaper entitled Vedem (In the Lead). Although these boys came from varied backgrounds only seemingly united in their fears - they were also unified by their desire to provide a record of their time in Terezin. The Vedem magazine was read out every Friday evening from late 1942 until 1944 - whilst the contributors were slowly being deported out east.
Over 800 pages of the magazine survived because one boy (Zdenek Taussig) remained in Terezin and hid them.
George and two of his Shkidite roommates were deported in September 1944. He was lucky to pass selection for slave labour while his two friends did not and went to their deaths. At the end of the war, there were 17,247 survivors of Theresienstadt (including some who had survived the death camps).
George went on to work on railway cars in a satellite of Auschwitz called Gleiwitz and in January of 1945 was selected for one of the infamous Death Marches, where Nazis marched prisoners back to Germany, hoping to cover their horrific crimes. After even more close calls, George was liberated by the Russians from the Death March on January 21st, 1945.
After making his way back to Nove Mesto through occupied Europe in May 1945, he found out the fate of his family but tried to restart his life, finishing school and taking over the Brady store. The arrival of Communism changed this course and he managed to get a visa to Canada. George started a new life in Toronto, Canada complete with a happy life including 3 boys and eventually a daughter. He started a successful plumbing business with fellow Terezin survivor Joe Seidner and became a leading contributor in the immigrant community, financially and with sound advice for hundreds of families. Despite all of this, he found that he could never come to terms with his past and the authors of Vedem who had not survived. He was determined to share their memory.
In 1994, George worked with the few survivors from Home 1 to give voice to those who had not survived. This material was published in the book “We Are Children Just the Same”. At the time, he just wished to have their work shared with the world in some small way. He had no idea how these poems, stories and prose would affect people around the world let alone how his sister’s story would be re-discovered in Tokyo.
Karel & More About Me
Karel & Marketa
Karel and Marketa were both completely bilingual, in Czech and German. Karel inherited the Brady family store and expanded it to include wholesale-retail and eventually started directly importing American oil and gasoline from Romania. Karel loved innovation and new technologies; he had the first gasoline pump built in Nove Mesto and later had the first telephone in town with the number #1. When the police station eventually got their own they took over #1 and the Bradys could be reached at #11!
The Brady store expanded to export eggs, butter, turkeys, blueberries, potatoes among other perishables to big cities in Austria and Germany. Across the region, deliveries were made by two horses which allowed deliveries to take place all year around - especially in winter when the trucks could not cope on the roads.
During the first World War as a young man, Karel served in the Austrian cavalry. Back at home in Nove Mesto, he was an active community member - a member of Sokol (national Czech gymnastic organization) and played soccer (even becoming captain). He was an actor in the local theater, a voluntary fireman and very much involved in the winter sport clubs as announcer for all the ski races and ski jump competitions.
Marketa was born in the Czech village of Popovice near Benesov. As a young girl, she attended a finishing school in Vienna and learned some English, French and how to play the piano. After marrying Karel, she moved to Nove Mesto where she attempted unsuccessfully to master the sport of cross-country skiing. She was known for being particularly awkward on skis and always needed help getting back up!
Karel and Marketa worked 6 and a half days a week in the beginning and eventually took off entire Sundays to spend with their children. They were very involved parents - Karel built a bridge in the backyard creek and helped George build a dam to raise the water level so the kids could pretend it was a deep lake for boating!
Disaster struck for the Brady family in the spring of 1941 when Marketa was arrested for having sent her brother some money to help him escape. She was eventually deported to Ravensbrück and tried to continue to write regularly to her children until she was deported to Auschwitz in 1942.
Karel tried to keep Hana and George’s spirits high after their mother was taken but he too was arrested in 1941 when another man defied Nazi orders in the town. He was held in a Gestapo prison until he was also deported to Auschwitz in 1942.
Karel and Marketa were both killed at Auschwitz.
Heda &More About Me
Heda & Ludvik
Heda was one of Karel’s 3 sisters and she also lived in Nove Mesto. She married Ludvik Hajek and had one daughter Vera - they spent much family time together with the Bradys at the store and on weekend trips to neighbouring castles or sights. Although it had not mattered when they married; Ludvik was of the Christian faith and therefore not included when all the Jewish men were arrested in Nove Mesto in the fall of 1941. When Karel was arrested and the Brady children were left alone, there was no question that Hana and George would go to live with their Aunt and Uncle although it was risky. Heda herself was deported to Terezin in 1942 and the Nazis forced Ludvik to formally divorce her. When the Brady children were deported, Ludvik couldn’t bring himself to part with them and asked his brother Josef to take them to the train station. He was a lifeline and great support to George when he returned home and found himself the sole survivor of the Brady family.
Vera & More About Me
Cousin Vera Hajek
Heda and Ludvik’s daughter; Vera was born on May 4th, 1926. Living very close to the Brady home, Vera grew up playing with Hana and George. When their parents were arrested in 1941, Vera generously shared her room with Hana and made her cousins feel at home. She was forbidden to go to school in 1942, despite being a Catholic as her mother was ‘only’ a converted Jew. Vera started working odd jobs at 16 and remained at home with her father throughout the war. Her fondest childhood memories were of spending time with Hana and then George’s return after the war - when she couldn’t stop smiling and hugging him.
After the war, Vera remained very close with George and the Brady family and was particularly delighted to know that Hana’s story was shared around the world.
Cousin Anichka Reitler
Anna Reitler was known by her family nickname ‘Anichka’ and related to George & Hana through her mother - Marketa’s sister. Anichka found herself deported to Terezin in 1942 and was able to see her cousins infrequently as she worked during the days in the gardens. When Hana was deported to Auschwitz in October of 1944, she asked Anichka to help her with her hair so that she would look nice when reunited with her big brother George.
Ema DubskyMore About Me
George and Hana’s Grandmother, Ema lived in Prague and always brought treats for her grandchildren when she came to visit. On one very special visit, she presented Hana and George with red and blue scooters.
Elderly at the start of the war, Grandmother Ema suffered from Parkinson’s but could not avoid deportation to Terezin on July 3, 1942. Malnourished and without medical care, she passed away only three months later from a combination of illness and a lack of will to live.
Kurt KotoucMore About Me
Kurt Kotouc was a bunkmate of George’s for two years in Kinderheim L417, Room 1, in Terezin. While there, he was the assistant editor of the celebrated boys’ magazine, Vedem (In the Lead). Following the war, he lived in Prague where he was very active in preserving the memory of his friends from Terezin. This included publishing a collection of articles and stories from the boys’ journals in a book titled: Vedem, We Are Children Just the Same.
Kurt remained close friends with George after the war and provided Fumiko with George’s address when she inquired about the fate of the Brady family. Kurt died shortly after appearing in the film “Inside Hana’s Suitcase” in 2008.
“After everything I went through in my life, I swore that I would never turn my back on people. I’ve realized from personal experience, the worst is when injustice takes place, and the silent majority is the only one accounted for.”
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