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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives




DATE:                       UNKNOWN

Transcript (PDF)

Hana Kraus was born in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. She was an only child. Her father, Ernest Kraus, owned an import/export business and the family was comfortable. When the Germans dismembered Czechoslovakia in March 1939, life for the Jews began to deteriorate. Hana was 14 years old when she was forced from the public school system. She found a job as an apprentice seamstress, hoping that she and her family would be able to immigrate and she would be able to help to support them. None of their plans worked out, however.

In late 1941 or early 1942 deportations from Pilsen to Theresienstadt began. Hana and her parents were on one of the first transports to the camp-ghetto, which was not yet fully prepared to receive the Jews at that time. Hana and Elly, her mother, were separated from Ernest and housed in barracks. Eventually the gentiles were relocated and the entire garrison town became the ghetto-camp. Ernest soon died from pneumonia. Hana was put to work repairing German uniforms. Hana and her mother were put onto transport lists for Auschwitz-Birkenau several times but her uncle, who was in the ghetto-camp’s administration, got them removed. However, in 1944, Elly’s name went on the list and stayed there. Hana accompanied her mother to the assembly point and stayed with her that night. She tried to go with her but was turned back. Hana never found out what happened to her mother after that.

The Russians liberated Theresienstadt in May 1945. Hana returned to Pilsen for one year before moving to England, where she had family. In 1949, an uncle helped her acquire a visa and she immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. She married Walter Beer and had two daughters. In 2004, Hana passed away. 

Scope of Interview:
Hana introduces her family and her life prior to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. She describes being deported to Theresienstadt. Hana recounts what life was like in the camp-ghetto. Hana shares her memories of her mother’s deportation. Hana discusses the German’s use of Thereseinstadt for propaganda. She describes how other practiced their religion in the camp-ghetto. She recalls falling ill before she was liberated in 1945. After liberation, Hana explains how she travelled back to Pilsen before coming to England and then the United States.  She offers her perspective of why some survived and others did not. The interview ends with Hana stressing the significance of losing her entire family.

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