First aired on The Sunday Edition (21/1/01)
Hanna Brady 625
gob 16/v. 1931
These three lines written on a child-size suitcase were all it took to kick-start a phenomenon. The suitcase belonged to Hana Brady, a young girl from Nové Mesto, Czechoslovakia. Hana, like her parents before her, perished at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The family's sole survivor, Hana's older brother George, eventually fled to Canada to build a new life, but he continued to be haunted by what had happened to his mother, father and the younger sister he had promised to protect.
The suitcase found its way to Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a small Holocaust education centre for children in Tokyo in the spring of 2000. Fumiko had sent a request -- specifically for a shoe and a suitcase -- to the Auschwitz Museum for artefacts she could display in her humble Holocaust education centre in Tokyo. When the suitcase arrived, it enchanted students immediately. Who was Hana Brady? Why did she end up in Auschwitz? Why was she a "waisenkind" (the German word for orphan)? What was she like? Fumiko became determined to find out.
Her research eventually led her to George Brady, who at the time was a plumber in Toronto. He had moved on, but he hadn't let go. The two forged a friendship. Karen Levine caught wind of the story, and turned it into a radio documentary for CBC's The Sunday Edition (which you can listen to in the audio player above).
An award-winning children's book followed in 2002. This book, simply titled Hana's Suitcase, would introduce readers around the world to Fumiko, George and, most important, to Hana Brady, the brave, beautiful girl who died far too young. The book has since been published in 40 countries and 29 languages, and spawned a television documentary, a stage adaptation and a film adaptation. A 10th anniversary edition of the book featuring all-new material, Hana's Suitcase Anniversary Album, is also now available.
Author Karen Levine will be speaking about the new edition on the May 14, 2012, episode of The Next Chapter.