, is a survivor of the holocaust
seen in Europe
during The Second World War
. Adolph Hitler
's rise to Power in Germany
in the early 1930
's spelt trouble for many people, and his hostile captures of other European Countries
was the spark that started World War Two
Hitler had a deep hatred for the Jewish. He adopted an oppressive regime that persecuted the many Jews that lived in Germany. This naturally led many Jews to flee to safer countries. Hannah Goslar's family was one of these, and they moved to Amsterdam, Holland to escape the Nazi persicution.
However as war ravaged central Europe, the Nazi empire was growing and many countries were falling under Nazi occupation. Hollond was attacked and occupied in 1940, and so the fear of persicution caught up with many Jews, including the Goslars.
Hannah lived in the south of Amsterdam, within a Jewish community. She lived near and became close friends with Anne Frank, who's diary told a great deal about life for the Jews in Holland at that time. Hannah remembers when Anne was given the diary, for her birthday. Anne mentioned Hannah many times in the diary, published as 'Anne Frank: diary of a young girl' in Holland in 1947. Obviously names were changed to protect those in the diary, Hannah is known as Hanneli, or Lies. Also, Hannah can recall the time she knocked at the Frank's door only to be told they had fled to Switzerland. She was unaware that they were really hidden in Amsterdam.
Hannah was barely in her teenage years when the danger for the Jews in Holland began to grow. Anti-Jewish laws saw life change immensly. Parks and benches were plasterd with signs reading no Jews, and as fear invoked Nazi support in Holland, many shops would not sell goods to Jews. Slowly more and more people were called to report to the German army to go into 'forced labour'. These intensified, and nightly raids by armed soldiers rounded up more and more of Amsterdams Jewish community. Stories of brutality at the hands of the soldiers spread panic among Hannah and her family and friends alike.
Hannah's father was once a high ranking civil servant in Germany. This put him high on the Palestine Lists, of people that would be returned to the holy lands. also, the Goslar's had Paraguan passports. This at least made them a usefull bargaining tool for the Nazis. Maybe this would be their saviour.
Hannahs mother died during while giving birth one winters saturday, making her already bleak life all the more unbearable.
Shortly after came the dreaded knock at the door in the middle of the night. Hannah with her family were lined out on the streed by soldiers and taken to 'The Jewish Theatre' where people were being taken away in trucks. The Goslars were sent home, but a child refugee, that had been in their care was dragged screaming, from Mr Goslar's arms. The Papers afforded to them, had thankfully set them free.
Hannah saw her world deplete quickly. a once vibrant happy place, where she would play, was now bleak, and steely. There was no school, as the teachers had all been arrested.
Hannah and her family were eventualy taken on the 20th June 1943. They were forced from their home, with barely any belongings and taken to the rail station, herded into pcattle cars] and pulled east, towards Germany. The train stopped short of the German border, and the Jews were forced to line up. Hannah and Gabi, her young sister were seperated from their father, grandfather and grandmother. They were taken to the 'orphanage'. they were at Westerbork, a transit camp used to hold the Jews before being taken on to concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, or Sobbibor in Poland. It was an evil place. The guards were harsh, the ground was sodden, and crawled with lice and fleas. Here Hannah volunteered to clean the toilets as her work. Despite being advised by other women to take something else, she worked out that she would at least get to see her father this way. She was right, and this made life a little more bareable for Hannah.
On a Monday and Friday night, Guards would call the names of the prisoners that were next to be taken to the main camps. Whispers among the prisoners told of how bad these places were, and what suffering was endured here. The Goslars however were on the Palestine Lists, and this kept them away from the main camps.
After a year of suffering at Weserbork, Hannah's grandfather died of a heart attack.
On the 14th February 1944 Hannah's family were ordered to be taken to Bergen Belsen, a camp in Germany. This was an exchange camp, where valuable hostages would be exchanged for the release of German POW's. They were taken not in cattle trucks, but in [passenger carriages.
The Goslars were considered 'Lucky' to be in 'privelaged camp, but the conditions here were obviously horrific. I could not even begin to comprehend, let alone describe it and certainly will not belittle the inhumanity with a few lines of text. People grew weaker and weaker by the day, as did Hannah who was becoming sick. She spent a month in the hospital at Bergen Belsen.
Within a few months more and more prisoners were arriving in Germany. It was rumoured that the Germans were loosing the war. Hannah's father was becoming very ill.
Hannah made contact with onother Dutch Jew behind the wall of barbed wire and rancid straw. To her surprise she learned that Anne Frank was at Bergen Belsen, and before long they made contact. Anne told Hannah of her appaling treatment. She was a criminal in the Nazis eyes for hiding from capture. She had had her head shaved, lost her parents in Auschwitz after separation and feared the worst. In contrast to Hannahs freezing damp orphanage, Anne was living in a tent, without food or water. Hannah would throw what scraps she could over the fence to Anne, but she was losing heart, and Hannah knew she was slowly dying.
Due to Hannah's fathers severe illness, the Goslars were told that they were to be the next exchange. There was hope at last, but tragically, Hannahs father died soon after the news, and not long later her Grandmother also died of starvation. Hannah was left alone with her sister Gabi, who she was now like a mother to. Hannah was aware she was suffering from typhus but knew she must go on for Gabi's sake. The camp where Anne was detained had been emptied. Nobody knew to where.
At the beginning of April it was announced that Bergen Belsen was to be evacuated, and the prisoners to be taken to Theresienstadt. A labour camp that the Jews knew had gas chambers. It was common knowledge that Hitler inteneded to cover up his crimes, as he was now losing the war.
Hannah and Gabi were loaded onto a squalid cattle car, that snaked slowly through the countryside. Empty shells of bulings were all that seemed left of some of the cities. particularly Hannah's home town of Berlin. Now and then the trains would stop, and the Jews ordered to run into the fields, then after planes flew over those still stong enough to survive the panic were re loaded onto the trains. Hannah was now so ill, and so weak, she slipped into unconsciosness. When she awoke, she was told that the Germans had surrendered. White flags hung from Nazi houses, and friendly soldiers told them to stay in the now abandoned rich houses. Hannah felt her first comfort for years.
The Red Cross transported Hannah and Gabi back to Holland, where she spent months in hospitals, and infirmaries to recover from the severe lung infections she had aquired. She was visited by Otto Fank, Anne's father who told her how he had lost his family, and they had not survived. Hannah had spoken to Anne, just weeks before the nightmare ended. Anne died from disease and starvation.
Hannah's story is one that really underlines not only the horrors of this page in history, but the tragic tale of Anne Frank.
In her diary she wrote
27th November 1943. Why should I (Anne Frank) be chosen to live, and Hannah, chosen to die?
It was this tragic irony that made Hannah tell her story to Author, Alison Lesley Gold, that wrote the biography Hannah Goslar Remembers. This is a book suited to all ages, and although undertones the savagery of the era, does not understate the tragedy.