“They dumped us from the railway carriages. Everyone had to get out, leave their things inside, stand in a line – women and children on one side, men on the other – and go to a crossroads. There stood an SS-man who was splitting the people towards the left and towards the right. We didn’t know what it meant. Tella just knew she wanted us to stick together. In front of us there was some lady with a child – a girl – and when they arrived to the crossing the SS-man asked the lady whether the girl was fourteen already and whether she was healthy. Since she answered both questions positively he sent them towards the right. Tella didn’t wait for the question and said that I was 14 and that I was always healthy. This was, of course, a blatant lie – I wasn’t even 13 by then and I had all sorts of diseases in Terezín. But it was happening at night and I was always tall so he sent us together. Thanks to her I survived because towards the left, that would have meant gas.”
On 12th May we were allowed to return home. They said that we suffered from no dangerous diseases and that we could go to Prague. We were waiting for a train – they had us board a regular passenger train – and rode to Prague. Between Terezín and Prague that was perhaps the happiest of times. At that point I was thinking that I was returning home. But as soon as we got to Prague I realized – what home? Where is my house, my home? They took the Olbramovice farm from us, they took my mum’s villa – who knows who lived there. Where were we at home and where were our family? So I think that this post-war time when we were free again was probably the worst, mentally. We were at home but not home at all. When we found out I was the only one from my family to survive, it became clear to me that I had to start my whole life from scrap, just on my own. That was extremely difficult.”
“Ältestenrat – the Jewish leadership of Terezín which looked after the youth – found a way to persuade the Germans to build children’s homes. So they built those, separating children by age. L410 was the home for Jewish girls. We were arranged by age – still, I was younger than the other girls at my room 28 where we had Tella and Eva as our governesses once again.”
The happiest time of my life was on the way from Terezín to Prague
Hana Drori, née Pollaková, was born on 4 November 1931 in Prague into a Jewish family. She grew up in Olbramovice where her father’s family owned a farm. Following her parents’ divorce Hana stayed with her father in Olbramovice while her mother lived in Prague. In 1939 the family farm was confiscated and Hana followed her father to Prague. In October 1941 her mother was deported to the Lodz ghetto; in December 1941 her father went to the Terezín ghetto. Hana followed him there in July 1942. She lived in children’s home No. L410 in care of governesses. Hana’s father had married one of the governesses - Ella so-called Tella. In the fall of 1944 her father was deported to Auschwitz. Hana’s and Tella’s turn came in October 1944. After a week in Auchschwitz-Birkenau both were selected for work in the camp Oederan in Germany. From October 1944 until spring 1945 they worked in an ammunition factory. At the turn of March and April the camp was evacuated and Hana ended up in Terezín again where she lived to see liberation. In May 1945 she returned to Prague only to find out her father died shortly before the end of the war and that she was one of the few survivors from the broader family. She lived in Prague with her father’s wife Ella Pollaková, studying at a grammar school. In 1949 she joined a Zionist group and moved to Israel. There, she settled down in HaHoterim kibbutz, worked in agriculture and started a family. In the 1970s and 1980s she and her husband lived in Africe. Hana Drori lives in Israel and makes regular visits to the Czech Republic.