Hana’s Story NEEDED to be Told

Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine

An educator in a small museum in Japan asked for some artifacts for an exhibit she was preparing on the Holocaust. One of the items she received was an empty suitcase with a girl’s name painted on the front of it. This peaked her curiosity and she set forth to discover all that she could about this Hana Brady.

The book felt a little disjointed. One part of it was the search through historical documents to find out who this young girl was and what happened to her. Another part was a story about all of the things she went through, including losing her parents, being sent away, and finally ending up at a concentration camp. It felt like these should have been two separate books. I couldn’t understand how the author or the museum curator knew all of these facts about Hana. I also did not understand why this suitcase was so fascinating that it sparked all of this research.

After reading it, I watched the documentary film, Inside Hana’s Suitcase, and I think it told the story much better. In it, I found out that the suitcase they discovered wasn’t even the original one Hana has. It was a recreation, painstakingly made from photographs. The original has been destroyed in an act of arson.

It’s amazing to think how Hana’s story could have ended several times over the years and how we are left with the suitcase, this book, and several documentaries. Her story needed to be told.

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