Holocaust Survivors' Network

Back to a past fearful of a future
Buchenwald boys left as orphans the Nazi Holocaust
Neil Wilson
March 5, 2005


HOLOCAUST survivors who began new lives in Melbourne are to offer a personal glimpse into a time when many doubted they'd have a future.

The Buchenwald boys were left as orphans by the Nazi Holocaust.

Most of their families had died in Nazi death camps or Polish ghettos.

They were among 900 youngsters freed from Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany in April 1945.


Survivors: Buchenwald boys Jack Cuttler, 78, Johnny Chaskeil, 76, Sam Silver, 77, and Jack Unikowski, 79. Picture: Craig Borrow

But their story of finding salvation on the other side of the globe in a unknown city is told in a new exhibition at the Immigration Museum in Flinders St.

The Buchenwald Boys -- A Story of Survival will be launched tomorrow and runs publicly from Monday until May 22.

Photos, concentration camp uniforms and immigration cards tell a poignant story, starting from 1945.

The 60 who emigrated to Australia relied upon each other, the generosity of locals, and their initiative to build prosperous lives.

Four of about 25 of the Buchenwald boys still living in Melbourne recently re-visited the first place they knew in Australia after arriving here in 1949 -- the old Jewish centre of North Carlton.

Back then, Johnny Chaskiel and Jack Cuttler knew no English and had few possessions.

They walked down Amess St to the old Victorian home where they boarded.

"There used to be a store over there where we would go to have coffee, to buy bread at any hour of the day or night," Jack Cuttler said.

"We used to go there after dances."

They recalled a long-gone Carlton of poor immigrants and Jewish businesses such as cafes, bakeries and an undertaker.

"We had all the work we wanted. We had money for the first time. Life was good after Europe, and we had a lot of help from the Jewish community," Jack Unikowski said.

"After all we had been through, we came to realise that we had arrived in a paradise, too good a life for many Europeans to imagine -- and it still is."

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