Not long ago my husband and daughter were online researching our family history and they came across some information about a woman who might have been a distant cousin. We had not heard of her before, but we felt an immediate connection because of her name: it was the same name as our daughter’s. For the purposes of this post, I’ll call her Hanna. I do not use my daughters’ names online. I think she would understand.
This is all I know about Hanna:
Hanna was born in Poland in 1913.
She married Sam.
Hanna was a housewife and Sam was a teacher. They lived in Antwerp, Belgium where they had two children. Their first son, Raymond, was born in 1939 when Hanna was 25 years old. They welcomed their second son, Abraham, almost exactly one year later.
They were Jewish and World War II was raging around them.
In 1942, Hanna and her sons were forcefully separated from Sam and the whole family was deported. They were boarded onto trains and sent to Auschwitz. Hanna and her sons were put on one train; Sam was put on another. Soon after they arrived, on October 24, Hanna and the boys were sent to the gas chamber and killed. Raymond was three years old and his brother, Abraham, was two. Hanna was 28.
Sam died at Auschwitz three years later, on May 19, 1945. He was 31.
This is what else I know:
I have a daughter who bears the same name of a distant relative who was murdered in the Holocaust.
I have experienced the depth of a mother’s love, the same experience Hanna did. Had her children survived, they would be 76 and 77 years old today.
I cannot write this without crying.
I have a daughter who bears the same name as woman, wife and mother who was murdered in the Holocaust. My husband and I did not know this when we named her. We know it now.
Today I remember Hanna and tell her story.