Hana Greenfield - lucky to be alive?

Hana Greenfield and her mother

In 1942 Hana Lustigova, now Greenfield, was a teenager in the town of Kolin, east of Prague. Along with her mother and sister, she was sent by the Nazis to the Terezin Jewish Ghetto. This was just after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, who had ruled occupied Bohemia and Moravia with unsurpassed brutality. Hana, with her mother and sister, only narrowly avoided being sent straight to the gas chambers of the East among 1000 other Czech Jews, sent as a so-called Punishment Transport in retaliation for Heydrich. That was sixty years ago this week. Although her mother was murdered in Auschwitz, Hana survived. By a tragic irony, it is quite likely that the Cyklon B gas that killed her mother and millions of other European Jews was manufactured in Hana Greenfield's hometown of Kolin. She is sometimes asked if she feels lucky to be alive. Here is her response.

"Somebody said to me once: "Weren't you lucky to come back from the camps?" Well, I have given it some thought. I have lived through a very interesting, long, difficult and successful life, and yet, every night, when I go to sleep, I visualize my mother's last moments in the gas-chambers of Auschwitz, choking slowly on the Cyklon B gas that was produced in Kolin, the town she was born in, educated, married, deported, and finally murdered by its product. Did you say I was lucky to be alive? I wonder."

(Hana Greenfield is the author of "Fragments of Memory - from Kolin to Jerusalem", a vivid and profoundly moving account of her wartime experiences)