The Girls of Room 28, Theresienstadt As Meninas do Quarto 28
The Girls of Room 28, TheresienstadtAs Meninas do Quarto 28 

Farewell to

Hanka Weingarten (1929-2018)

1 June 2018

Hanka (Chana) Weingarten, 2006 in Spindlermühle.. Photo: Hannelore Brenner

Again one of "The Girls of Room 28" has left us. Unexpectedly - she did not show any signs that this would happen so suddenly and visited Hamburg in May - Hanka died on 1 Juni 2018, in Tel Aviv.


Hanka was an exceptional personality, full of vitality and always ready to help, to organize and to just do without any hesitation what she realized necessary to be done.


Unforgettable for me are my stays in Israel. She was my anchor-point, even something like my Israel family. Without her, my travels around in Israel would not have been possible. She connected me with her friends, opened doors for me, drove me around in her car and would take care of my schedule.  I just had to entrust myself into her care and relax. This was also the case during my last visit  in 2016/2017.


Unforgettable remain the days in September in Spindlermühle. Both, Hanka and her husband Abraham, were full of charm, humour, spirit of entertaking and warmth. They added a very special quality to the atmosphere of these coming-togethers in Spindlermühle, in the Krokonosc mountains.  All of us loved this wonderful couple.


Unforgettable for me are also the moments, when Hanka talked about her childhood in her birth-town Znaim/Znojmo in the Czech Republic, about her escape when the Nazis occupied the "Sudetenland" in October 1938 and her years in Prague, her town of refuge, and the following internation in in the Ghetto and Concentration-Camp Theresienstadt till May 1944 and then, from May to July 1944 in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Together with her mother she was then sent to work in the bombed City of Hamburg clearing rubble. She ended up in April 1945 in Bergen-Belsen, was close to death, wehn the Americans liberated the camp. A few days after liberation her beloved mother Lily Wertheimer died.


The encounter with Hanka Weingarten, her personality and our friendship had an enormous impact on my life. Now that I write these lines I feel it stronger than ever before.


Hanka had consented to come to Germany in September 2018, in the frame of the exhibition "The Girls of Room 28", which will be shown in the same place in Schwerin, where it  was opened for the first time in 2004 - 14 years ago.  When she was invited, Hanka said: "If I am still here, I am coming." This is what she always replied to invitations like this. And she used to add: "You never know what is happening. The day comes when we all go."


This day has come. It is quite unconceivable for me - although I am well aware of and prepared for the finiteness of our lifes. But loosing Hanka is hard, and  I feel it is so because she has become  part of me and my life.


My deepest sympathy go to her children and grandchildren in Israel and in the US.


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© Hannelore Brenner-Wonschick, Berlin, 2004