Hannah Dovkin was born in Israel to parents who were Holocaust survivors. Her father, Herman Kopch barely spoke of his experiences during the Holocaust and the little that Hannah knew was mainly from her mother’s stories.
Herman Kopch was born in 1907 in Krakow, Poland. He immigrated to Israel in 1948 where he met Rachel née Gersht. They married in 1951 and had two children, Yosef Baruch and Hannah, named in memory of the two grandfathers and grandmother who had been murdered in the Holocaust.
Throughout the years, Hannah knew of the existence of a small shoebox containing an old wallet that was hidden in her parents’ bedroom. As a child, she had felt that there was a secret hanging over their home, but no one ever spoke of it. When she was 17 years old she came across her parents having a conversation about what had happened to their families during the Holocaust. Hannah asked to know more and for the first time, she heard that her father had had another family before the war.
After her father passed away, her mother gave her the wallet and asked her to look after it. Only then did Hannah discover that the wallet contained a lock of hair. At that point, she also heard the details of the story from her mother:
Before the war her father had met Lucia (Lusha) née Raev from Przemyśl in Poland. They married and lived in Krakow. Herman was a butcher and Lucia was a housewife.
Their son Roman (Romek) was born in 1937.
During the Holocaust the family was incarcerated in the Krakow ghetto. Roman was four years old. From the ghetto the three were deported to Plaszow, where Herman was separated from his wife Lucia and his son Roman. As they were parting Herman cut a lock of Roman’s hair and kept it with him. He never saw his wife or son again – both were murdered.
Herman was deported to Auschwitz, and from there was sent on a death march to Flossenburg concentration camp in Germany, where he was liberated by the US Army in April 1945.
Herman managed to keep his son’s lock of hair throughout his time in the camps; it remained with him until his final days.