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Krall is of Jewish origin—the daughter of Salomon Krall and Felicia Jadwiga née Reichold. During World War II she lost most of her close relatives. She survived the war only because she was hidden from the Nazis.
After Krall finished her studies in journalism, she started working for the Polish local paper "Życie Warszawy" ("Warsaw Life") in 1955. In 1966 she left the paper and began to write for the well known magazine Polityka ("Politics"). Shortly after, Wojciech Jaruzelski, then Prime Minister of the former People's Republic of Poland, declared martial law, Krall left "Polityka" and wrote articles for the "Gazeta Wyborcza" some time later.
During her time working for "Polityka", she published her first book named Na wschód od Arbatu ("Heading east from Arbat") in 1972, which was written after she spent several years as a correspondent in Moscow. The book dealt with day-to-day life in Moscow during the 1960s.
Commercial success came with the publication of Zdążyć przed Panem Bogiem (engl. title: "Shielding the Flame"). The book is about a Polish Jewish cardiologist and social activist, Marek Edelman, who was one of the founders of Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Combat Organization) and who took over its leadership after the head-commander Mordechai Anielewicz had perished. Edelman was at that time the only living leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 'Shielding the Flame can be seen as a model for most of Krall's works. Krall describes the relations between Jews, Poles and Germans during the Holocaust and the years thereafter.
Apart from this main point in her writing, Krall also reflects about the search for her own identity, as can be seen very clearly in Dowody na istnienie ("Evidence for Existence").
Another theme in her book is the often complicated destiny of the Polish people in history and the influence of the past on people's lives in the present.
- Współcześni polscy pisarze i badacze literatury. Słownik biobibliograficzny, pod red. Jadwigi Czachowskiej i Alicji Szałagan. Warszawa 1996. Tom 4. ISBN 83-02-05974-9, s. 363
- Adamczyk-Garbowska, Monika. "Hanna Krall." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. August 22, 2009