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They experienced terrible things, survived the Shoah and came back to Geislingen 70 years later - wonderful people.

Helen Ickel / Hanna Jeckel, married Mann

Helen Jeckel
Hanna Mann with her grandson

Hanna Jeckel was born in November 1927 in Rona des Jos, later moving to Sighet, Maramures, in the Tisza region, Romania. Her father was a Hebrew teacher, but he could hardly support his family. She came from a very religious family, which influenced her until her old age.
In 1944 she was taken to Auschwitz together with 20,000 Jews from Sighet

She attended school for barely five years, was a good student and took up the profession of a seamstress. In early 1944, she was arrested in Budapest and sent to Auschwitz. The 16-year-old spent five months there until she was selected to work for WMF in August 1944 and transported to the Geislingen satellite camp. Here she was the only one of her 56 family members to survive the Holocaust.

After the war, she went back to Hungary and met her husband there. In 1947, she immigrated with him illegally via Trieste to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Legally, the British allowed only 1500 Jews into the country each year. They had no papers. The British wanted to find out who was already living in Israel and who was not. Therefore, they had language tests done. Hanna didn’t know Hebrew, but her husband did. But he didn’t want to leave her alone and accompanied her behind barbed wire again, to a camp in Cyprus. There they lived in tents for a year and a half.

However, the British did not want old people and pregnant women there, as they only caused trouble. Since these people had a chance to enter Palestine, Hanna and her husband quickly tried to have children. When Hanna was pregnant, her husband grew a beard which he dyed white to look older. In this way, they both came to Israel in June 1948. Their first daughter Malka was born in December 1948.

Hanna kept silent about her terrible experiences for many years. She lived a rosy life for her children. They were not to be touched by the Holocaust in any way. Apart from the fact that they had no grandparents, uncles or aunts, they knew nothing about their mother’s experiences for a long time.

But Malka kept having nightmares about Nazis chasing her and dogs trying to bite her leg. When Malka’s son Mordi was 20 years old, he started asking his grandmother questions. In short sentences, she began to tell him. “It was all too bad” – that’s how she always ended her timid narrations. She found it difficult to express her own experiences and feelings. Rather, she could talk about what others had experienced. She was already 70 years old at that time and regularly took pills to calm down.

Her grandson, Mordi Zissman, interviewed his grandmother about her experiences, resulting in a video in Hebrew in January 1999.

Hanna Mann was demented at the end of her life and lived in her own world. Hanna passed away on April 28, 2019.