Women in Kern County: Cornelia Hanou


Cornelia Margarita Hanou, 95, tried not to talk about World War II, she didn’t want to remember those years of her life, but now she’s sharing her story. 

“I was born in Amsterdam in 1923 on April the 30th,” said Cornelia Hanou. 

Connie, as she’s known to most, was 17 when World War II began. 

“I never wanted to talk about it, a long time after the war and then I though maybe it should be told,” Hanou said. 

When Germany occupied the Netherlands, Connie felt a great responsibility.

“I was old for my age, daring, I did not, I wasn’t afraid.  I wanted to do everything to get my family through the war,” Hanou said. 

Even if it meant bending her morals. 

“You don’t think of the consequences.  I was a different person then.  I had to be hard,” Hanou said. 

Connie’s family found themselves without gas, electricity and food.

“You had to steal to keep your family alive and it wasn’t very good,” Hanou said. 

Daily she recited the following. 

“We make it, we make it, the Lord is with us,” Hanou said. 

Even on the darkest of days when Nazi soldiers showed their authority. 

“People would die, I saw them die,” Hanou said. 

Connie said she and her family were cautious, but not afraid. 

“The Underground, which my brother was a member, blew up the town hall to destroy all the names of the Jewish people.  That was resistance and they hated that,” Hanou said. 

Anne Frank and her family hid just down the street. 

“Down the canal, on the other side of the canal.  I almost could look at it,” Hanou said. 

She never met Frank, but remembers well the times Jewish families were ripped from hiding. 

“Hitler was a coward,” Hanou said. 

A day she will never forget, the day the war ended. 

“I said hooray, hooray, we are free,” Hanou said. 

Her teenage years not spent with her friends at the soda shop or at the movies with a boy, instead her formative years were spent in war. 

“You had to go through it, but we made it, we made it,” Hanou said. 

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