F O L L O W  M Y  F O O T P R I N T S

Follow My Footprints is the story of a young girl's escape from war and her granddaughter's journey to retrace her path of displacement 75 years later.

The project examines the connection between past and present, how strangers can save lives, and ultimately what it means to be home. 

Author and Photographer : Rachael Cerrotti


The story

In October 1939, Hana, a wide-eyed, 14-year-old girl from Prague boarded a train into the unknown. She was one of the lucky ones. As war took over her newly formed, democratic Czechoslovakia, she had a way out. 

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The Journey

In 2014, 75 years after Hana bid farewell to her family for what would be the final time, her granddaughter embarked on a journey to learn the languages, landscapes and lives of her grandmother's displacement.

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Rachael Cerrotti is an award-winning independent photographer and writer based out of her hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. Her work focuses on topics relating to cultural identity and the perception of home. 

Rachael began working on Follow My Footprints in 2009 when she sat down with her grandmother, Hana, and asked to hear her story. In 2010, after Hana passed away, Rachael became the unofficial family historian, spending years puzzling together and digitizing the details of her grandmother's displacement.

In 2014, 75 years after Hana was forced to flee Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia at the young age of 14, Rachael packed up her belongings and went on the road for a year to retrace Hana's path. This was just one of many trips to Europe to work on this project.

This journey took her from the Czech Republic, through Germany and into Denmark, up to Sweden and then back to the United States to cross the country by train. 

Rachael is now writing a book (her first) and presents this story in classrooms and throughout different communities.