Our family lived in the small town of Nove Mesto na Morave in Czechoslovakia. George’s mother Marketa was a cheerful woman with a winning personality. Constantly making people laugh, she was a good friend to many people and that included writers and poets. George’s father Karel was very involved with local town life – playing soccer and eventually becoming team captain; as well as acting as a volunteer fireman, the announcer and executive of the sports club, an amateur actor and a supporter of art made by relatively unknown artists. George was born in 1928 and Hana, nicknamed “Hanichka”, came three years later on May 16, 1931. She experienced a carefree and joyful childhood; her early years spent becoming an adorable and lovable little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. She skied and skated her way through the cold winters or would build snow forts. Summers were spent riding around on her scooter, or splashing through a nearby creek with George in a wooden wash basin, pretending to be in the Navy. Although she was three years younger than her brother, she held her own in sibling fights!More About Me
In March of 1939, the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia and then the war broke out
Up to this point, life had been simple and relatively carefree for the Brady family. All of this changed drastically with increasing restrictions imposed on Jews across Europe. Suddenly unable to travel, often even for family visits or funerals, the Brady children felt many of the new regulations most strongly at home. No longer allowed to go to the cinema, able to shop only during certain hours, Hana and George were most affected by new restrictions that meant that they were no longer allowed to attend school. This meant that Hana was 9 years old and in her third year of school. Because education was important to Marketa and Karel; Hana and George got a tutor to continue their learning.More About Me
The first family tragedy came in the spring of 1941 when our mother was arrested. She first went to the Gestapo headquarters in the town of Jihlava and then she was sent to Ravenbrück, an infamous women's labour camp. While there, she tried to keep everyone’s spirits high and kept her own spirits up by making a necklace and other trinkets out of her very tightly rationed supply of bread. These she sent to the kids. From there, she was sent to Auschwitz in October 1942. She was dead within weeks of arriving.
Karel was arrested in the fall of 1941 when one Jewish man in the town refused to wear the star. This so angered the local Nazi that he had all the Jewish men arrested that same afternoon. Karel was sent to a Gestapo prison and eventually to Auschwitz where he died in July of 1942.
The experience of having both of their parents arrested drew Hana and George closer. They stayed with their uncle and aunt until they were ordered to go on the transport to Terezin on May 14, 1942.
Hana, therefore, spent her eleventh birthday on the way to Terezin. Once in Terezin, Hana and George were separated. In Terezin, the children had many experiences and Hana even contracted Encephalitis – a disease known for its fatality. However, her strength and resilience pulled her through and she overcame her illness.
In September 1944, George was sent to a labour camp, which turned out to be Auschwitz. He was fortunate enough to pass the selection line and avoid the gas chambers (while two of his accompanying friends did not) to be used as an ironworker.
Eventually, George was put on the Death March but was liberated in late January of 1945. He made his way back through war ravaged Europe to his hometown in May of 1945 to find his immediate family had been killed. George realized he had to start afresh when the Communists rolled in a few years later and he finally found a new home in Canada in 1951.
“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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