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Hans Hacker

Hans Hacker

Hans Hacker was born in Vienna, Austria in 1919. His family came from different parts of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. His paternal grandfather, Moritz Hacker, married his grandmother in Budapest in 1878 and they came to Austria in 1879. There, Moritz acquired a metal manufacturing and silver-plating company, founding the Hacker Mecallwaren Fabrik. They first produced decorative items and later specialized in plated silverware for restaurants and hotels throughout Austria-Hungry.


Hans attended grade school in Vienna and was in high school during the Austrian Civil War of 1934. In 1937, Hans was drafted into the Austrian military and served for 6 months in the cavalry. He was serving in the military when Adolf Hitler annexed Austria. He recalls his brother, Frederick Hacker, being arrested and serving one month for "political activity." The Hacker family, like so many other families, was targeted by the Nazi party, which took away their business and all other properties.


In March of 1938, at the age of 18, Hans fled Austria and went to his grandmother's home in the Sudeten part of Czechoslovakia. Two weeks later he had to flee again to Prague as German troops were moving in following the Munich Agreement. Hans left Prague for England in March of 1939 on the last plane that touched down in Holland, rather than Germany. His father and brother joined him there before war broke out. During this time, Hans met and married his wife, Elizabeth Hacker. He also started going to night classes to get his engineering degree, but only completed one week before the Nazis started bombing London, causing his school to close. His brother left for the U.S. in 1940. Although Hans, Elizabeth, and Hans's father obtained visas, they could not get passage to the U.S. before the U.S. entered war with Germany and their visas were voided. Hans, Elizabeth and his father remained in England until January 1946, when the war ended and their visas were reinstated.


Hans recalls first hearing about CARE in 1945 when he was still living in England, just before the war officially ended and he left for America. He still had family and friends in Austria who were struggling after the war. He recalls hearing that a friend needed butter for cooking, so he put an ounce of butter in an envelope and sent it to the friend. To his surprise, it arrived safely! When Hans heard about CARE, he saw it as an opportunity to continue sending family and friends the items they needed, but with more certainty that they would get it. He was among the first people to send a CARE package and recalls the very beginning when donors could send a package for $1 and direct it to a specific individual. He continued to send them as CARE expanded its work into Asia and recalls receiving a post card with the fingerprint of a young girl in China who had received one of his packages.


Hans continued to support CARE in various ways as the mission and programs grew. After moving to America with his wife in 1946, they joined his brother, Frederick, in Los Angeles. Hans went back to school and graduated with his engineering degree from USC. As he made a name for himself in America, Hans never forgot his family and friends in Austria, nor did he forget the organization that helped them in their time of need. Hans continues to give regularly to CARE.


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