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Rachel Deblinger, Author

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Who is "Hannah"?

"Hannah" is referred to in quotations throughout the exhibit because there is no way to track if the story conveyed about a young girl who escaped a mass murder during the Holocaust and emigrated to Palestine with Youth Aliyah was a real girl named Hannah.

Archival evidence suggests that Youth Aliyah and Hadassah representatives in Palestine were concerned with the experiences of their young charges and listened to stories of violence, fear, and trauma regularly. Hadassah also recognized the power of these survivor stories for publicity purposes. Both of these impulses may have helped shape the brochure and radio script about Hannah.

A letter dated August 29, 1946 sent from Mrs. Siegfried Kramarsky, co-chairman of Youth Aliyah stated, “We understand that the material for publicity on the 20,000th child did not actually refer to that specific child, as at the time you sent it to us the child had not yet reached Palestine.”

This letter suggests that Hadassah wanted to celebrate the immigration of 20,000 Jewish children to Palestine and could not wait until this child arrived to produce publicity materials. The framing of "Hannah" as the 20,000 Youth Aliyah child is thus fabricated.  But that does not mean that her story is untrue. Rather, it raises questions about the relationship between a survivor and their story as well as the relationship between organizational publicity and Holocaust narratives. Is the truth of the stories the primary value? Or, at the time, were stories of this kind intended to be representational in a way that told a general story and motivated philanthropic action?
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