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Remembering a Queens Holocaust Survivor’s Rescuer Portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in ‘One Life’

I have known Hanna Slome for my entire life as she and her husband, Henry Slome, were close friends of my parents. While I was aware that Henry fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and Hanna managed to escape from Czechoslovakia, the details of her escape remained a mystery to me.

Surprisingly, Hanna herself was unaware of the specifics until 1999, a remarkable 60 years after the event, when she discovered that she was one of 669 children, predominantly Jewish, rescued from the Nazis by a British stockbroker named Nicholas Winton.

Nicholas Winton’s remarkable initiative to save Czech children by bringing them to the UK came to public attention in 1988 on a BBC television program where he reunited with many of those whose lives he had saved. This heroic and dangerous humanitarian project is now the subject of a new feature film called “One Life,” with Anthony Hopkins portraying Winton. In early 1939, just before Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, Winton spent a month in Prague devising his plan.

Hanna, who is about to celebrate her 99th birthday, rarely discussed her journey to England. She only opened up about it after watching a documentary about Winton 25 years ago, where she found her name on the list of children rescued through the Czech “Kindertransport” facilitated by Winton.

At the age of 14, Hanna Beer, living in Ostrava, was signed up for the rescue mission by her father, who had already relocated to London with her older brother. Despite the heart-wrenching scenes depicted in “One Life” of parents bidding farewell to their children at the Prague train station, Hanna vividly remembers the intimate moment she shared with her mother the night before her departure.

Upon reaching London, Hanna lived with various foster families while her father and brother resided in a refugee boarding house. Despite the challenges, her father ensured her safety by waiting for her outside her foster homes every night. Hanna, who worked as a maid and lamented the truncation of her education at 14, was eventually sent to New York City by her father as World War II concluded.

Hanna’s post-war life unfolded in New York, where she married Henry Slome, raised two children, and became a grandmother and great-grandmother. Despite enduring immense loss and tragedy, she reflects on her life with gratitude and happiness, cherishing the experiences she has had.

As Hanna approaches her 99th birthday, she continues to inspire others with her story of survival and resilience. She will celebrate this milestone at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan, watching a new Holocaust film that resonates with her own experiences.

“One Life” is currently being screened in select theaters nationwide and available for streaming on various platforms, offering a poignant portrayal of courage and hope amidst the darkness of history.