Hansi was born in Budapest (in what was then Austria-Hungary and in what is now Hungary) in 1912. She was educated there and joined a Zionist youth movement when she was in high school. Later on, she joined "a pioneering village" which taught young Jews "agricultural training prior to their immigration to Palestine." Hansi married Joel Brand ("a prominent member of the World Union of Mapai") in Budapest in 1935 in a fictitious marriage in order to be allowed to immigrate to Palestine. Later on Hansi's and Joel's marriage became a "real", sincere one. They created a small glove factory and had two sons, one of whom died at a young age.
World War II and the Holocaust
Between 1938 and 1945, Hansi and Joel were deeply involved in efforts to help Jewish refugees who had escaped to Hungary (which did not deport Jews to concentration camps before the Nazi invasion of it in 1944). Hansi and Joel tried to save Hansi's sister and her family from being sent to concentration camps in Poland by bribing Hungarian intelligence officer Jozef Krem. Together with some other Hungarian Zionist activists, Hansi and Joel Brand founded the Aid and Rescue Committee in 1942. Hansi and the other committee members tried negotiating with Adolf Eichmann to save (at least some) Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. Hansi and Rudolf Kastner were able to get 1,685 Jews to leave Hungary and go to neutral Switzerland on the Kastner train. In addition, Hansi and The Relief and Rescue Committee were able to save the lives of some (additional) Jews by getting 15,000 of them deported to Strasshof concentration camp (where they had a much greater chance of surviving) than to Auschwitz. Finally, Hansi also tried saving the lives of some Hungarian Jewish children whom the Nazis forced on a "Death March" in November 1944.
Post-World War II and Later Life
Hansi moved from Budapest to Switzerland in 1946, and then from there to Palestine in 1947. In December 1946, in Basel, Switzerland, Hansi Brand testified in front of a special committee dealing with Rudolf Kastner’s activity during the Holocaust in Hungary. Hansi also testified in the Kastner trial in 1954 and in the Eichmann trial in 1961. After the Eichmann trial, Hansi and Joel wrote a book called The Devil and the Soul about their activities during the Holocaust and the Kastner trial. In her final years, Brand worked at the Michlelet Tel Aviv college and on behalf of orphans and Ethiopian immigrants. Hansi's husband Joel died at the age of 58 in 1964, while Hansi herself died at the age of 87 or 88 in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2000. Brand was survived by her (and Joel's) son Daniel (who was born in 1940 or 1941).
- Baruch, Hava (Fall 2000). "Profile of Hansi Brand". Yad Vashem Magazine (Volume #20) (in English) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem). p. 15. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- April 20, 2000 (2000-04-20). "Hansi Brand, 89, Holocaust Heroine - Sun Sentinel". Los Angeles Times (Articles.sun-sentinel.com). Retrieved 2013-06-04.
- "Hansi Brand (Hartmann) | Jewish Women's Archive". Jwa.org. Retrieved 2013-06-03.