THE Buchenwald Boys and their families came together in Melbourne on Sunday, April 8 to commemorate and celebrate the 73rd anniversary of their liberation.
The day began with the traditional commemoration held at Springvale Cemetery, where a memorial stands to remember the survivors and victims of Buchenwald, a concentration camp in Weimar, Germany.
Benjamin Janover, grandson of Buchenwald Boy Joe Kaufman, spoke on behalf of the third generation.
He discussed the importance of upholding the lessons learned from the Holocaust in today’s society.
“To this day, there are those who perpetuate every form of intolerance – racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more – hatred that degrades its victims and diminishes us all,” Janover said.
“Buchenwald teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time; that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.”
Michael Spicer represented the second generation with a moving address about his late father, Charlie Spicer.
He explained that his father never spoke of his experiences during the war, nor of his childhood before the war.
As far as mementos, all the family has is a single photograph of Charlie as a baby in Poland.
“It’s like his whole life until 1945 was a blur,” Spicer said.
On April 11, 1945 when the American military arrived to liberate Buchenwald, Spicer said his father was “reborn”.
“Regrettably without parents and a brother, but he was alive. He was amongst young men who similarly went through this nightmarish period. Somehow he was able to forge a life after the horror and the emptiness,” Spicer marvelled.
“Fortunately Dad survived the Holocaust. His memories didn’t, or if they did, he didn’t share them.”
Also during the commemoration, Buchenwald Boy Salek Roth shared a poem he wrote in 1978, titled Song from the Past. In the poem he recalls the horrors of the Holocaust, but simultaneously looks forward with hope.
Following the commemoration, the traditional Buchenwald Ball was held in the form of a luncheon at the Adele Southwick Hall. It was attended by approximately 150 people, including many young members of the fourth generation.
The afternoon featured music and dancing, and included a raffle draw, which saw $1,000 raised for Access Inc.