Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: she didn’t get her American visa

1942 canadian postage stampAfter 4 years of wandering around Europe as a refugee, Lotta Hitschmanova applied for a visa to immigrate to America.

She was rejected, but in January 1942, she received the following message in a telegram, as related by Lotta’s biographer, Clyde Sanger:

“Hitschmanova Canadian duration visa granted.”

Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: from wineries to firehalls – “life in the trenches”

‘The smell was enough to give you the DTs.”

Lotta Hitschmanova inspired thousands of USC Canada supporters from coast to coast, many of whom packed clothing for shipment to those in need overseas. Sometimes they volunteered in unusual circumstances, as Lotta’s biographer Clyde Sanger has noted:

Continue reading

Would Lotta have marched?

Lotta Hitschmanova, Cyprus, 1950s

“It seems to have been an instinctive desire on her part to bring out the leadership qualities she knew were in so many talented women she met, and an intuition that their ideas on human development would match her own.”

As millions of women and men around the world march to the cry of “women’s rights are human rights” – amid calls for greater tolerance, social justice, dignity and respect – a tiny candle of remembrance lights itself in honour of our women’s rights pioneers of times passed.

Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) was one of those early pioneers.

Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: They danced till they dropped in North Vancouver!

From the 1940s to the 1980s, Lotta Hitschmanova inspired thousands of Canadians to empty their pockets to support USC Canada‘s work with the needy in far off lands.

Teenagers were by no means immune to Lotta’s appeals for help, as this small nugget from Clyde Sanger’s biography of Lotta indicates:

Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: Stanfield’s underwear, USC volunteers, and Truro NS

Stanfield’s, Truro, Nova Scotia

Lotta Hitschmanova inspired a legion of loyal volunteers supporting her and USC Canada’s work right across the country. Truro NS was no different in this regard, but they did have one key asset that other communities lacked, as related by Clyde Sanger in his 1986 biography of Lotta:

“Some [USC] branches had certain advantages, like the Truro branch which was just down road from Stanfield’s Ltd., the family woollen and textile firm that has never looked back since the Klondike Gold Rush spread the fame of its unshrinkable underwear across North America. Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: her unique name

Lotta was born in Prague on November 28, 1909. She was raised as “Lotta Hitschmann” by two loving Jewish parents, Max Hitschmann and Else Theiner.

With the rise of the Nazis and the Munich Pact of September 1938, Lotta, an outspoken critic of the Nazis, began her perilous four year journey as a refugee. She first found a point of refugee in Brussels, where her life as “Lotta Hitschmanova” began in 1939.

Here is what Clyde Sanger has written in his biography of Lotta (page 20): Continue reading

How did a Jewish refugee to Canada become a Unitarian “saint”? Part I

How did a World War II refugee, born into a Jewish family in Prague, Czechoslovakia, become a revered figure for Unitarians, a small liberal religious faith in Canada?

The following is a brief response to this question, taken from Clyde Sanger’s 1986 biography, “Lotta and the USC Story.” Continue reading

The most iconic – and confusing – uniform in Canadian history?

museum-of-history-hitschmanova-bio-portraitaLotta and her iconic uniform were inseparable. She wore it everywhere. It became part of her public persona.

And it inevitably led to some misunderstandings and amusing stories that she herself would enjoy relating.

Here is what her biographer, Clyde Sanger, has written on page 150 of his book, “Lotta and the Unitarian Service Committee Story.” 

“Dr Lotta’s sense of humour made her collect stories of misunderstandings about her uniform: Continue reading