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John (Hans) Hanauer 1929-2019

John (Hans) Hanauer... luggage he designed featured in a Bond movie

 John (Hans) Hanauer was born in the beautiful Bavarian town of Wurzburg in Germany on February 17, 1929. He was the only child of Alfred and Hella Hanauer who were well-to-do. Due to his parents' efforts, his early life in Germany was happy and protected, despite growing up during the difficult period leading up to the Second World War and the Holocaust.

On the morning after Kristallnacht, John was walking to his school at the Jewish Seminary and there he saw piles of books being burnt, with young men in black shirts adding to the pile constantly. His family had not heard or seen anything out of the ordinary because they lived in a fashionable part of town, far away from any riots. When John arrived home, two men, Gestapo officers, came to the apartment and said they had to take Alfred, John's father, into "protective custody" and he was put in prison for two weeks. He was badly treated and the family realized that Jews could not live there safely any longer.

They had been trying for some time to obtain visas to leave Germany and somehow, with the help of a cousin, they managed to find a family in London, England, to guarantee to look after John. In July 1939, John, aged 10 years, was sent on one of the last Kindertransports to England. He had to say goodbye to his parents in the waiting room in Frankfurt train station and was never to see them again. Every night he cried himself to sleep, praying that his parents would survive and holding his teddy-bear which had been given to him when he was a year old.

As a child in England, John had to find a way to fit in and he soon became a true English schoolboy. He was given a good education, which started by studying architecture and culminated in him graduating from Birmingham University with a joint degree in Industrial Design and Economics.

After the war and still in England, John became a successful luggage designer and the managing director of a large luggage firm. He won prizes for his revolutionary designs and some of the luggage he designed was even featured in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. John was considered a leading expert in the use of plastics.

After his successful career in England in 1973, he was offered a job in Israel when he was recruited by the Histradut to manage their new plastics division. He made aliyah together with his family and continued working with the Histadrut for several years. He became a consultant to various kibbutzim and companies, working with Israeli military defense industries till he was 82 years old.

Throughout his adult years, he contended with several chronic health issues. But as with all other things in his life, he never complained and always looked for the positive in life. It is this aspect of his personality that really stood out. He was an optimist and believed that one could overcome and should look on the bright side of life, and he was a positive influence on everybody with whom he came in contact.

He loved his family and was blessed to have two children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. As someone who had survived the Holocaust, his family meant a great deal to John, and he savored his time with all members of his family and especially his beloved wife Jackie, to whom he was married for 65 years. In February 2019, with all his family around him, he celebrated his 90th birthday. He had been in poor health for some time and passed away quietly on August 2, 2019.

John was a special man who overcame many difficulties during his life. He was the kindest and gentlest of people, always a gentleman to those who were around him. He never despaired or complained, and his life was a lesson in trying under all circumstances to find the best in others and in life. All who met him found a man filled with compassion, intelligence and optimism. He is so sadly missed by his wife and all members of his family and friends.

His Loving Family 

A photo taken in John’s hometown Wurzburg, Germany, on the occasion of laying Stolperstein – memorial stones – in the pavement outside the house that was John's home. Back row - daughter Elaine, wife Jackie, grandson Yoel, son David and his wife Dafna. Front row – Tal, Yoel's wife and John Hanauer


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