– My Mother



Sydney Morning Herald December 10, 2012

HANKA (Ann) GLIKSMAN, 1923-2012

Survivor much sought out to tell of the Holocaust


Hanka Gliksman bore witness to the sufferings of the Holocaust, and as a volunteer guide for many years at the Sydney Jewish Museum her stories, delivered in her fluent English, German, Yiddish and Polish, could bring even the most sceptical to tears. She was a particular favourite of school groups, and often specifically sought out.

Hanka knew the Holocaust because she survived it.

She was born Hanka Wajsberg on July 31, 1923, in Dusseldorf, Germany, daughter of David Wajsberg, an apothecary, and his wife, Doba, and grew up in Sulejow, Poland.

Her life of promise ended abruptly in September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. The family was sent to the Lodz ghetto but the Nazis arrived in August 1944 to clear it, and the family was lined up to be removed. Doba told Hanka to take the hand of her younger sister, Sala, and cross the road from the line of the condemned to the line of the temporarily reprieved.

Hanka, under the noses of the Nazis, did just that and although the sisters were sent to concentration camps they were the only members of their extended family to survive the war.

Hanka was liberated from Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1945. She then went to Schwarzenfeld in Germany trying to find family members and there met Majer Gliksman, searching for his own family. They married in 1947 and in 1949 emigrated to Australia, as far from the taint of Europe that they could reach.

In Sydney they re-created their lives in a place where to be Jewish brought not hatred but curiosity, where education was not predicated on religion or wealth, where a pogrom was thought to be some form of exotic tropical fruit and where the only limits were self-imposed.

It was not long before Hanka’s intelligence and drive came to the fore. She brooked no obstacles or objections in her determination that her children would have all she had been denied, regardless of whether they wanted it.

In 1962 she set up Ann’s Boutique in Matraville, which employed not only herself but Majer, and countless young and not-so-young women. They learnt the retail trade from someone who could not only have sold iceblocks to Inuits, but tried to patent the recipe.

After retirement in the early 1990s, Hanka became involved with the Sydney Jewish Museum.

In 2009 she moved to the Montefiore Home in Randwick. Free from the concerns of everyday life, the security and warmth of her childhood, small-town memories came flooding back. Her children experienced their mother reborn: softer, gentler and at peace with the world.

Hanka Gliksman is survived by her children Dorothy, Michael and Fay, three grandchildren, one great-grandchild and sister Sala, who also moved to Australia. Majer died in 1981.

Author: Michael Gliksman

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