My story spans two continents and a range of different places and life experiences.
I was born in Stuttgart, Germany, a country where my family lived from the beginnig of the 13th Century.
With the advent of the Third Reich in 1933, it became a place that progressively became more hostile and dangerous, and even life threateningly dangerous for those of the Jewish religion, as well as people whose outlook did not conform to the National Socialist concept of the ideal citizen.
In 1936 my family decided to emigrate to the Sudenten Land part of the Czech Republic to start a new life. However, this dream was short lived when the area was annexed to Germany in 1938. On 15th March 1939, we fled to Prague, the capital, which was occupied by Germany.
In November 1942, our family was interned in the Terezienstadt Ghetto, which basically was transit camp for deportations to extermination camps in Eastern Europe. We were among the fortunate minority to remain in the Ghetto until liberation in May 1945. Just as background statistics, some 140,000 passed through the camps from 1941 – 1945, and at the time of liberation, about 15,000 survived. During the four years some 15,000 children under 14 years
old passed through the camp and at the end of the war, 120 had survived. (Long odds indeed).
My parents and I arrived in Australia in September 1947 to start a new life a long way from the shadows of Europe. I attend Thornbury Primary School for several months, with practically no or minimal English, but soon picked it up.
In 1948, I attended Preston Technical School, and moving to East Malvern, attended Caulfield Technical School 1949 – 1950 obtaining a Junior Technical Certificate. In 1950 I took up an Electrical Mechanic apprenticeship with Oliver J Nilsen, and after five years became a qualified A Grade electrician, a trade I pursued for several years. I still hold a valid A License to this day.
In 1956 I was called up for National Service and joined the Royal Australian Navy “to wear the Queen’s Uniform”, spending six months at HMAS Cerberus – otherwise known as Flinders Naval Depot; and also on the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney. Consequently, I also joined NSAA (National Service Association) some 10 years ago to continue the connection.
My late father, who had started a small business in the medical supply field, asked me to join the business as his health had deteriorated. I considered this as short time commitment, however when he suddenly died in 1959, it became a more long-term involvement lasting over the next 20 years.
That year Evelyn and I married (and we recently celebrated our 60th anniversary), our family now consists of two daughters and sons-in-law and five grandchildren.
In 1977 I changed direction, running a small communication equipment firm for two years, and then working for several large companies in the electrical equipment industry. During that period I took up University Studies (off-campus) obtaining a BA at Deakin University followed by an MA at Monash University. I started writing articles which were published in a number of publications, and also worked for several local newspapers. Eventually I took freelance journalism on as a full time basis, an occupation I still follow today, even on a more casual basis.
I joined St Kilda Rotary Club in 1978, but left due to changes of circumstances. In the early 1990s, I joined Caulfield Rotary, and about 15 years ago moved to Glen Eira Rotary Club. During this period I served as President of both of these Clubs.
For more than six decades, I have been involved with a range of community organisations including primary and secondary school councils, was on the City of Caulfield 1988 Bicentenary Committee, held many senior positions in B’nai B’rith, and have served as a Volunteer at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance since 2015, involved with Glen Eira University of the Third Age for over a decade, two years as President and a range of other organisations both short and long range.
I served on the Committee of the MEAA (Australian Journalists Association) and two years on the Board of the National Trust (Victoria).
Over the last 30 years I have travelled on many occasions to Germany speaking to schools and other groups about my experiences as a Holocaust survivor and also here in Australia as part of the Courage to Care program. I have written a book on the subject “A Look Back Over My Shoulder” the first edition appeared in 2004, and an updated second edition in 2014, both of which were published in Australia and in a translated version in Germany.
Recently I took up a new interest - as an extra in films, having connected with an agency and to date had several stints in this new pursuit in productions "The Preacher", "Bloom" and "Five Bedrooms". It is a lot of fun and you actually get paid.
I have lived a fortunate life being a part of a small group of Holocaust survivors who were granted a new chance at life denied to six million victims.