Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

Once there was a little girl named Hana Brady. She lived in Czechoslovakia with her beloved family. She liked to ski cross-country with her brother and play with her wolfhound and her fluffy, white kittens. She helped her father at the family’s general store. More than 50 years later, a suitcase with her name on it was sent to an education center in Japan. School children learned all about Hana and what happened to her during the Holocaust, a story told with words and photos in Hana’s Suitcase.

In the beginning, all the center had was the suitcase. But Fumiko, the center’s director, became curious about Hana. To start, all she knew was her name and her birthday, written on the suitcase in big, white letters. And there was one other word written in even larger letters: waisenkind, the German word for orphan.  As a Jewish girl, Hana and her family would have faced terrible danger during World War II. Fumiko was determined to find out more about Hana. 

After years of searching, the truth of Hana’s life under Nazi rule and later in the prison camps was restored to the world. The Nazis had done their very best to extinguish the Jewish people, but they failed. Hana’s light shines on as a warm memory for her family and as a testament to those terrible days. In Japan, the children at Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center formed a group called Small Wings in Hana’s memory. Here is part of their poem:

We, Small Wings, will tell every child in Japan what happened to Hana.
We, Small Wings, will never forget what happened to one-and-a-half-million Jewish children.
We children can make a difference in building peace in the world – so that the Holocaust will never happen again.