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Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
3 August 1939
Hana Eardley (nee Kohn) was born in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia in 1928. She had a twin brother and elder sister. Her parents were from Pilsen. Her mother’s parents had a haberdashery shop on Premyslova Ulica. She knew little of her parents’ upbringing or education and thought her father was an accountant. They were not so well off and lived in a second floor apartment on Havlickova 18. She had a happy childhood and attended the local school. Her parents were not religious and they attended Synagogue on the High Holy Days. She knew little of the political situation and was told that she and her twin brother, Hans, were going to England on an extended holiday to learn English. Her older sister Greta was coming on a transport at the beginning of September but this never left due to war. A man from the Sheffield Jewish Refugee Committee had arranged for her brother to stay with the Mulroy family in Rotherham and a Quaker had found her a place with the Crook family in Sheffield. He was the headmaster of the local Primary School. Both families were non-Jewish and were very warm and caring. They ensured the twins met every weekend and spoke on the phone every evening.
Hana learnt English quickly and passed for the Grammar School within six months of arriving. She was taken to the Synagogue a few times due to the efforts of the Refugee committee but felt just as comfortable accompanying her foster mother to church. She felt at home here and made many non-Jewish friends. She became deputy head of the Grammar School and then took German and French at Sheffield University. She only discovered what happened to her parents and sister after the war, although her paternal grandmother survived in Theresienstadt and returned to Pilsen after the war. She never saw her before she died. Hana became a teacher with her first job in Whitefield, Manchester from 1951-60. Whilst there she went to Solingen on an exchange to teach for 3 months. Athough apprehensive of older Germans, she realized that there were good people there and one cannot generalize. In 1960 she went to teach in Salzberg for 1 year and was happy there. She returned and taught in Belvedere School in Liverpool and then in Levenshulme for 1 year and then met and married Stephen Eardley, a non-Jewish Liverpudlian.
When he looked for somewhere in England where he could send his children when the Hitler threat came, he said, ‘We’re Jewish and we’re not ashamed of it. On the other hand, if families that are non-Jewish offer to look after the children, we will be just as pleased as long as they find love and friendship.’
We’d never been to Prague even, you see, our capital. And then of course when we were put on the train, mother crying, the father’s husky voice when he said goodbye, but it’s still– the sense of adventure was still there. We didn’t realise how much it must mean to them, how much it must have meant to them to say goodbye till much later, when we looked back on it.
It was a shock to me when I realised exactly what had happened to our family, like to many others. Putting myself into my mother’s place, it must have been so terrible to say goodbye and to know that it was probably for ever. I felt that history could repeat itself. I couldn’t even bear to think of having children. And yet, I love children. So I’m grateful that I’m very close to my twin brother’s children and grandchildren.