A Lucky human being

Mayer, Hania

An incredible story of survival.

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When Hania was found lying on the floor of the so-called hospital at Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945, her rescuers thought her dead. Someone had another look and noticed her breathing. She was taken to the Red Cross hospital where nurses noted that one hand was clenched shut. They presumed it was paralysis associated with typhoid. Eventually Hania opened the hand herself and found she had been clutching a small penknife with two blades, one of which was broken. It was her only possession.

The knife became a talisman for Hania, who had more to contend with after horrific years in the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz, a death march and finally Bergen-Belsen. Reunited with her husband, Janek Goldfeder, in Sweden, he lovingly saw her through yet another trauma which was to remain private until 2005, and blossom into joy in 2009.

Janek died young in Melbourne, leaving Hania to raise their daughter alone. Hania worked hard to provide a secure, loving home and eventually remarried. Hers is a tale of enormous courage and resilience she attributes directly to the noble values of the family she was born