At 16, Hana Jurica, her parents and eight siblings were forced into the ghetto in Lodz, Poland. While Hana and her siblings were able to work in exchange for food, her elderly parents were not permitted to work and died of starvation.
After four years in the ghetto, Hana and the rest of its prisoners were taken to Auschwitz where they were greeted by Josef Mengele. As they were unloaded from their three-day train ride, Hana noticed that everyone in the camp was bald, while some wore pants and others wore just shirts. “We thought we had arrived at a mental hospital,” she said.
After six months Hana was transferred to a salt mine and then from there marched to what she called the worst place of all, Bergen-Belsen, where she and others slept on the floor in the winter. It was here that Hana lost her last sister, whom she had been with throughout the entire ordeal, and watched as her sister’s body was tossed on top of a pile of bodies.
After liberation, the Red Cross took Hana to a hospital in Sweden. “The accursed Germans destroyed my life. I lost almost all family; they stole the properties of my parents; I lost my youth working as a slave; and I lost my health,” she says.
After the war Hana married and moved to Israel before she and her husband settled in Brazil. Hana receives medical and food assistance from UNIBES, the Brazilian and Israel Social Welfare Organization, which receives funding from the Claims Conference. Hana is almost blind and requires constant assistance, for which she receives homecare through UNIBES, funded by the Claims Conference.