This story was adapted from it's original version, published by dear friend of USC Canada, David Rain, on his new Lotta Hitschmanova-dedicated blog lotta56sparks.ca. Please check it out for all sorts of little known Lotta facts and tales.
After four years of wandering Europe as a refugee, Lotta Hitschmanova applied for a visa to immigrate to America. She was rejected. Displaced from her home in Czechoslovakia by Nazi occupation, she sought somewhere secure to live and from where she could help her follow refugees.
In January 1942, she received the following message in a telegram:
"Hitschmanova Canadian duration visa granted."
Lotta's first reaction was one of disappointment that she had failed to get the American visa.
"I felt sorry not to join my friends in the States, and was afraid of leaving for a country that was entirely unknown to me. I also thought that I would be of no use to our refugees in Canada, and that I could make much propaganda in New York, by simply telling the tragic situation I had seen from so near."
She went on to found USC Canada in 1945, one of Canada's very first non-governmental organizations, to respond to the massive humanitarian crisis that accompanied the end of WWII. She truly inspired her fellow Canadians to be their best selves and to help their neighbours around the world. The whole social history of Canada might have been written very differently if Lotta had in fact received that American visa she so deeply sought.
Click here to read more on how Lotta became a refugee who changed Canada.