Hana Fantová
(18th November 1923 - ? 19th March 1942 Izbica)

During the war the town of Izbica lying in the eastern Poland was a desperately overcrowded gathering point for Jews from the nearest neighbourhood and later even from abroad. It served as a transit station - a place where its visitors had to wait for their transport to extermination camps in Bełżec, Sobibor and Chelmno. On March 17th, 1942 a transport marked "Ab" heading right for the transit ghetto Izbica left Terezín. One of the wagons carried Hana Fantová with her parents and a grandmother.
Hana's father grew up in Horní Ročov where he doesn't have any record in the registry office "because of irresponsible officiating of the Hříškov rabbi". Working as a shop assistant he used to stay mostly in Jablonec nad Nisou or Pardubice until he finally got to southern Bohemia where he probably met his future wife Regina Glaserová from Čivice u Plané. They settled in Plzeň and got married in 1923 - the rabbi was Prof. Dr. Golinski and Leo Löwidt and Oskar Sonnenschein (both perished) were the witnesses. Nine months later their daughter Hana was born. During the second and third years of her life she had a nanny - a Catholic widow called Marie Balická. The father was taking care of the business and the mother was the official owner of their sewing shop.
When she finished the first grade of her grammar school studies she changed schools and came to "II. československá státní reálka" - it was the year 1935. For some years she was free of paying the school fees. On Saturdays she was allowed to attend the synagogue instead of school. According to her classmates' words she was one of the quickest students although the school report from the fourth grade shows weak results in Czech Language and Technical Drawing. She left the school in the mid-term of the fifth grade when other students defined as Jews had already left.
She used to share the desk with Jarmila Lodlová from Tymákov who remained a close friend of hers in the following years although the number of restrictions was growing. Hana seemed to be a modest but also cheerful and sociable girl. She was discreet but essential (she took part in a postgraduate reunion in Tymákov - the pub where it took place belonged to Jarmila's parents). In spite of the variety of prohibitions Hana attended a dancing course and she can be seen on a group photograph taken on the stairs next to the hall entrance. Jarmila used to sleep at Hana's place after the course when unable to get to Tymákov. Hana also sewed the festive graduation dress for her.
As the process of excluding the Jews from the society continued the family lost their shop and had to move from their tenement house in Saská Street to a smaller flat at 6 Kramářovy Sady which they shared with at least two other families. Mr. Fanta experienced a Gestapo interrogation in January 1942. Three days before the transport he came home battered. Jarmila was just visiting Hana and this was the last time she saw them. On January 22nd, 1942 the family left in the transport marked "S" for the Terezín ghetto and a few weeks later, on March 17th, 1942, all of them were included into Ab transport heading for Izbica in the Lublin district.

Mrs. Lodlová (today Brichcínová) remembers:
"She had typically Jewish hair - black and curly. She was banned from going out, only in winter she used to go ice skating. She was cheerful and sociable. She was a good girl. She had to wear the star. I kept walking out with her and we used to ride a bicycle to the pond called Židovák. I thought that nothing could happen to me. No one ever checked us. Mr. Fanta used to tell me not to keep meeting them but I didn't care. They lost everything. When I knew them, they only had one small shop in Poděbradova Street where they repaired shirts. They were banned from working, they had nothing to live by. That was a catastrophe, there were for example three families living in one flat. Her father was arrested before the transport and beaten up. I visited them that day; they were living behind the theatre. Mr. Fanta told me about the interrogation. He sent everybody out and told me they were not coming back, he had been treated so horrible there that he knew they would not survive. But I had to keep it as a secret so that the rest could have some hope. And then - two or three days later they had to leave. There was nothing we could do, no way to help them."
"I sent her several packages to Izbica. I know we could send a quarter of a kilogram. I made them caramel to give them some sugar. They sent one postcard only, one of those saying: "We are fine."
Between 13th March and 15th June 1942 nineteen transports arrived in Izbica from abroad and brought 18395 prisoners. Hana's family arrived with the second transport from the protectorate. That was before the resettlement of the local Polish Jews. Right in the ghetto more than three thousand people died due to bad sanitary and housing conditions and a lack of food. The information available doesn't say anything about the further fate of the family. If they didn't perish in the ghetto they must have been murdered in one of the nearby extermination camps - Bełżec or Sobibor.


The small town of Izbica is situated about 20 kilometers to the north of Zamošč by the road leading to Lublin. Till the World War II, Jews were the majority of its population, today there aren't any. By the spring in 1943 all of them perished partly in gas chambers in Bełżec or Sobibor, partly they were gunned down either right in the local ghetto or on the edge of mass graves they had to dig themselves at the Jewish cemetery. The same doom awaited also the Czech Jews who arrived from Terezín in the early spring of 1942.
There are hundreds of Czech Jews buried at the Jewish cemetery in Izbica. And among them there is also a large number of men, women and children deported from Plzeň and its neighbourhood in three transports in January 1942.

The Bełżec extermination camp was founded in November 1941. The camp was divided into two parts: one for the service staff made of prisoners chosen from arriving transports and the other one for murdering itself. First there were three gas chambers where the exhaust fumes from diesel engines were used. The exterminatory process was started up fully on March 17th, 1942. The camp security guard consisted of about thirty SS members and about one hundred Ukrainian warders.

This is a description given by Karl Alfred Schluch, an SS member who spent 16 months in Bełżec: "The transport clearance was carried out by a work commando led by a capo. They were supervised by two or three Germans from the camp garrison. During the procedure we told the Jews that they had come there for redistribution, but first that they were going to have a bath and be disinfected. Right after that they were led to the changing room. There was one for men and another one for women and children. When they left the changing room I took them straight to the gas chamber. I believe I made their way easier - I had to use such words and expressions that convinced them they were really going to have a bath. The Jews entered the chamber; the Ukrainians locked the door properly. Then the gassing engine was started up. A few minutes later (five or seven I guess) someone looked inside through the eyelet to make sure that everybody was dead. After that the rear door was opened and fresh air was let in. When the chamber was aired the commando led by its capo began to drag the bodies out. The Jews were very closely packed in there. Therefore they weren't lying on the ground but they were intertwined. Several or more bodies were dirty with excrements and urine; others were partly covered with vomit. I could see a blue tinge on their lips and tips of their noses. Someone's eyes were closed, someone's glazed. The bodies were pulled out of the chamber and searched by "a dentist" who cleared them of gold teeth and rings. All these things were thrown into a carton. Then the corpses were dug into mass graves."
In December 1942 and during the year 1943 the graves were reopened and the bodies exhumed and burned. After that the camp was disassembled and about six hundred Jews who were still alive were sent to Sobibor. The Nazis transformed the area to a farm and passed it on to one of the Ukrainian warders.
In total six hundred thousand people were murdered in Bełżec.