I never shook off the fear of the unexpected bell ring
Hana Hnátová, née Lustigová, was born on 20 June 1924 into a Jewish family in Prague. She grew up in Libeň together with her two-years-younger brother Arnošt (1926-2011), the famous Czech writer. Their father ran a clothes shop and their mother, a seamstress by trade, stayed at home and helped in the shop. The witness attended primary school and later grammar school in Libeň, which she was expelled from in the first senior year for racial reasons. She worked briefly at the Treuhandstelle warehouse in the Spanish Synagogue. On 20 November 1942 she, her brother, mother, and cousin Věra, who lived with the Lustigs, were deported to the ghetto in Terezín. Her father was detained for public labour and sent after them several months later. Hana was assigned to the Hundertschaft work group in Terezín and later worked in a joinery and in a sewing manufactory. In September 1944 her father and her brother Arnošt were deported to Auschwitz where her father died. Her brother was later transferred to the Buchenwald labour camp. On 4 October 1944 Hana Lustigová volunteered to a transport to Auschwitz with her mother and her cousin Věra. After a brief stay in Auschwitz they were chosen for work in the Freiberg labour camp, an auxiliary camp of Flossenbürg, where they worked in an aircraft factory. In April 1944 the camp was evacuated and they were taken by train - one of the so-called transports of death - to Mauthausen, where they were liberated by the American army in early May 1945. The witness and her mother returned to Czechoslovakia where they were reunited with Arnošt Lustig. After the war Hana finished her grammar school studies and worked as a financial clerk. She started a family and raised a son and daughter. Hana Hnátová lives in Prague and in recent years has given talks on the Holocaust.