We Share the Same Sky

 

Chapter II: Don’t Make Waves
Rachael takes us to Prague and into her grandmother’s childhood. We begin the history lesson with Hana overhearing news of the Munich Agreement and Hitler’s desire to take part of her country. As Hitler occupies the entirety of Czechoslovakia and WWII officially begins, Hana’s parents find a way for her to flee.
Learning Objectives:
  • Understand how the Nazis enacted laws that stripped citizens of their civil liberties and set the stage for war between 1933 and 1938.
  • Recognize how upstanders saved Jewish lives.
  • Reflect on how people maintain normalcy and hope during dangerous times.
  • Hana’s participation in the Zionist Youth Group made her eligible to be part of a rescue mission that took Czech Jewish teens from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to Denmark. They were placed on foster farms so they could learn agricultural skills with the intention of emigrating to Palestine. But, because of the war, most of the Czech teens remained in Denmark, moving from one foster farm to another every six months. This is Hana on one of her foster farms in Denmark in the early 1940s. <br/><br/>Photo courtesy of <i>We Share The Same Sky</i> archive. Hana’s participation in the Zionist Youth Group made her eligible to be part of a rescue mission that took Czech Jewish teens from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to Denmark. They were placed on foster farms so they could learn agricultural skills with the intention of emigrating to Palestine. But, because of the war, most of the Czech teens remained in Denmark, moving from one foster farm to another every six months. This is Hana on one of her foster farms in Denmark in the early 1940s.

    Photo courtesy of We Share The Same Sky archive.
  • After many years of research and digitizing the archive her grandmother left behind, Rachael set out to retrace her grandmother’s 17 years of statelessness. Her intention was to travel via the same modes of transportation and to live similar style lives as to what her grandmother did during the war and in the years after. That meant that when she got to Denmark, she moved to a farm. Rachael moved in with the granddaughter of her grandmother’s foster mother from World War II and traded her labor for room and board as Hana once did. This is Rachael on the farm in Denmark that she came to call home.<br/><br/>Photo by Liva Christiansen (the great granddaughter of Hana’s foster mother) / 2017 After many years of research and digitizing the archive her grandmother left behind, Rachael set out to retrace her grandmother’s 17 years of statelessness. Her intention was to travel via the same modes of transportation and to live similar style lives as to what her grandmother did during the war and in the years after. That meant that when she got to Denmark, she moved to a farm. Rachael moved in with the granddaughter of her grandmother’s foster mother from World War II and traded her labor for room and board as Hana once did. This is Rachael on the farm in Denmark that she came to call home.

    Photo by Liva Christiansen (the great granddaughter of Hana’s foster mother) / 2017
  • Hana with her brother and parents in 1939 in Prague. This is the last picture of the four of them together, taken shortly before Hana was sent to safety in Denmark. “I never believed, and I don’t think they ever believed, that this is the last time that we see each other,” Hana told USC Shoah Foundation in her testimony regarding her departure from Prague. Hana was the only family member alive at the end of the war; her parents and younger brother were murdered in Sobibor extermination camp. <br/><br/>Photo courtesy of <i>We Share The Same Sky</i> archive. Hana with her brother and parents in 1939 in Prague. This is the last picture of the four of them together, taken shortly before Hana was sent to safety in Denmark. “I never believed, and I don’t think they ever believed, that this is the last time that we see each other,” Hana told USC Shoah Foundation in her testimony regarding her departure from Prague. Hana was the only family member alive at the end of the war; her parents and younger brother were murdered in Sobibor extermination camp.

    Photo courtesy of We Share The Same Sky archive.
  • This is Prague, the city where Hana was raised. It was occupied by the Nazis in March of 1939, six months before the war officially began. Hitler had plans to turn Prague into a museum exhibiting the extinct Jewish race which is one of the reasons it was not bombed during the war and so much of its pre-war architecture is still in tact. <br/><br/>Photo by Rachael Cerrotti / 2014 This is Prague, the city where Hana was raised. It was occupied by the Nazis in March of 1939, six months before the war officially began. Hitler had plans to turn Prague into a museum exhibiting the extinct Jewish race which is one of the reasons it was not bombed during the war and so much of its pre-war architecture is still in tact.

    Photo by Rachael Cerrotti / 2014
  • A few of Hana’s extended family remained in Czechoslovakia at the end of war. Eva, her younger cousin, survived because her parents were in an interfaith marriage; they were deported to the camps in the later years of the war. When Rachael moved to Prague to follow Hana’s story, she lived near Eva and would often visit her. In this picture, Eva is preparing knedliky for Rachael. Knedliky is a traditional Czech dumpling that is often stuffed with plums and smothered with melted butter and sugar. <br/><br/>Photo by Rachael Cerrotti / 2014 (**note: Eva passed away in the summer of 2019). A few of Hana’s extended family remained in Czechoslovakia at the end of war. Eva, her younger cousin, survived because her parents were in an interfaith marriage; they were deported to the camps in the later years of the war. When Rachael moved to Prague to follow Hana’s story, she lived near Eva and would often visit her. In this picture, Eva is preparing knedliky for Rachael. Knedliky is a traditional Czech dumpling that is often stuffed with plums and smothered with melted butter and sugar.

    Photo by Rachael Cerrotti / 2014 (**note: Eva passed away in the summer of 2019).
  • When Rachael asked Hana to retell her life story, she described her childhood apartment like this: ”During my time, there were not many individual houses. There was a kitchen, a dining room and a bedroom in our apartment. No running water, no bathroom, no toilet. This was an average apartment for the time. We had these very large keys that were for the toilet. The building was in a square and all around there was a balcony, not separated by apartments. At the end of the balcony were two toilets. There was no toilet paper. It didn’t exist. Every Sunday, we would have a job to cut the newspaper into rectangles. We hung the pieces on a nail and used it as toilet paper. Sometimes you would cut the funnies and then when you sat on the toilet, you could read them.” This is the courtyard of that apartment that Hana described. <br/><br/>Photo by Rachael Cerrotti / 2014 When Rachael asked Hana to retell her life story, she described her childhood apartment like this: ”During my time, there were not many individual houses. There was a kitchen, a dining room and a bedroom in our apartment. No running water, no bathroom, no toilet. This was an average apartment for the time. We had these very large keys that were for the toilet. The building was in a square and all around there was a balcony, not separated by apartments. At the end of the balcony were two toilets. There was no toilet paper. It didn’t exist. Every Sunday, we would have a job to cut the newspaper into rectangles. We hung the pieces on a nail and used it as toilet paper. Sometimes you would cut the funnies and then when you sat on the toilet, you could read them.” This is the courtyard of that apartment that Hana described.

    Photo by Rachael Cerrotti / 2014