Perth Survivors’ Stories

A key element in the programme of the Holocaust Institute lies in the testimony of Survivors.

Of the small number in Perth, a lesser number still were prepared to confront the past, and to bear witness to their lives during the Holocaust.

These people were prepared to commemorate and to speak for the millions who were denied a voice.

These DVDs briefly tell their stories of our Survivors of some who may not be alive.

 

George Bloom (1928-2009) Hungary.

After he came to Australia George settled in Yangebup, south of Perth. He began to speak at the Institute in 1999. As he had macular degeneration he had limited sight, and spoke ‘off the cuff’, without written notes. His wife drove him many kilometres to the Holocaust Institute every time he gave his testimony there.

 

Kurt Ehrenfeld (1932-2014) Bratislavia.

Kurt came to Australia with his mother and sister after the war. He fulfilled his dream to become a mechanical engineer, and married his wife Norma in 1954. They had six sons and one daughter. Although he was still working, he found time to give his testimony at the Holocaust Institute. He developed pancreatic cancer at the age of 75, and lived on for another seven years.

 

Hanoch (Heiny) Ellert (1922-)

In 1949 Heiny went to Israel and worked as an electrician. There he met and married Toby, who was from South Africa. They lived in South Africa, but their two sons emigrated to Australia with their families. In 2006 Heiny and Toby came to live in Perth to be near their children and grandchildren. The story of his life is included in the book “After This: Survivors of the Holocaust Speak”.

 

Bill Glatzer (1927-2006) Ukraine.

Bill came to Australia with his father in 1948. He married in 1954 and had two children. Upon retirement he was active in resettling Jewish people from overseas, as well as spending his time in giving testimony at the Holocaust Institute.

 

Fryda Grynberg (1920-2002) Poland.

Fryda married Sol In Bialystock after the war, and they came to Perth in 1948. She lived to see children and grandchildren, and worked at the Holocaust Institute from the outset. Dynamic and dedicated, she continued to give her testimony until not long before her death, speaking to the public at the Anne Frank Exhibition at the Perth Museum in 2001.

 

Chaim Majteles (1925-2004) Poland.

Chaim arrived in Perth in 1950 with Survivor wife Rifka and baby son, and they built a life for themselves here. Chaim was one of the original Survivors to volunteer at the Holocaust Institute, and did so with dignity and sincerity for many years.

 

Erica Moen (1924-2014) Holland.

Erica came to Perth with her baby son Martin in 1950, following her husband Klaas, who emigrated a year earlier. The family lived in basic accommodation in the hills above Perth, establishing a home and an orchard. In retirement they moved to Perth. She worked giving her testimony to students for some years, with warmth and affection.

 

Betty Niesten (1913-2014) Holland.

Betty married her rescuer Charles after the war, and they came to Perth with her son Albert in 1951. Charles died in 1983. Articulate and bright, Betty not only gave testimony for many years at the Holocaust Institute, she lived independently until her final years. She was proud to reach the age of 100, and died in 2014.

 

Isaac Piller (1932-) Holland.

Isaac’s name was changed to Henk by the people who hid him during the war, and he came to Australia in 1953. Although he wished to share his story, initially he could not face telling it to others. His wife Wilma read it for him, and he sat with her and answered questions. In time he found the courage to do it himself, and he continues to share his testimony regularly at the Holocaust Institute.

 

Pola Potaznik (1923-2006) Poland.

Pola lost her entire family in the Holocaust. She went from Poland to Israel in 1949, and arrived in Perth in 1956 with her husband Sam and son Nathan. She worked at the Holocaust Institute for many years, bearing witness in honour of her family.

 

Rosa came to Australia with her father after the war. She married another Holocaust Survivor, and had two children. Her husband Julian died young from kidney failure, as a result of privation during the war. Rosa has worked at the Institute since it opened.

 

Renata Yesner (1931-2015) Kaunas

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania on 1 January 1931. She came from a close and loving home, and her early years were idyllic. Her autobiography, simply titled Renata’s Story, has been translated into German and published in Germany. Her book is titled “Jeder Tag war Jom Kippur”. In English this is translated as “Every Day was Yom Kippur”, being the saddest day in the Jewish calendar it refers to her life in Lithuania after the Nazi invasion. After the war, Renata, her mother and sister left for Africa, where she lived until she migrated with her family to Perth in 1982. Before leaving Europe, Renata’s mother obtained new documents which showed her date of birth as 1 January 1935. This was in an attempt to allow Renata to attend primary school after emigration, and to catch up with the education she had missed out on during the war.

 

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