Out of Europe: The six torch lighters

DINA BUCHLER-CHEN 311 (photo credit: Yossi ben David)
(photo credit: Yossi ben David)
Dina Buchler-Chen Buchler-Chen was born in 1940 in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (today Croatia).
Smuggled out of Loborgrad labor camp by her family as a toddler, she was raised by non-Jew Djina-Gertruda Beritic and her sons until a cousin reclaimed her after World War II. She made aliya in 1948 and went on to complete a master’s degree in microbiology and biochemistry at Bar-Ilan University.
Dina maintained warm relations with her rescuers, and went back to Yugoslavia several times to visit them. In 1994, Djina-Gertruda Beritic and her son Tihomil were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
• Chava Pressburger
Pressburger was born in 1930 in Prague, Czechoslovakia (nowadays the Czech Republic).
Born to a mixed Jewish- Christian couple who met through the Esperanto movement, she was deported to the Terezin ghetto with her father and artist brother Petr. At Terezin, Petr continued to paint. A facsimile of one of his painting of a lunar landscape was taken with Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon on his mission to space in 2003. Petr was murdered at Auschwitz by the Nazis. After the war Chava became an artist and he made aliya in 1949.
• Simcha Applebaum
Applebaum was born in 1927 in Malcz, Poland (nowadays Belarus).
He was deported with his family to the Prozhna ghetto in 1941. He escaped and fought with the partisans for months before being caught by the Germans, who sent him to Auschwitz. He survived two death marches, during which he vowed to fight for a Jewish state if he lived. After the war he made aliya, helped found Kibbutz Netzer Sereni, near Ness Ziona, and fought in the IDF, reaching the rank of colonel.
• Avraham Aviel
Aviel was born in 1929 in Duaglishok, Poland (nowadays Belarus).
He survived the massacre of his village in which his mother and siblings were killed, by escaping into the forest. There, he joined his brother and father and fought for the partisans until his liberation in 1944. His brother and father were both killed fighting.
After the war he made aliya and took part in Israel’s struggle for independence fighting with the IDF. Following his discharge, Aviel became a businessman and published books on his experiences during the Holocaust. He testified at the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961. He has three children and nine grandchildren.
• Yona “Janek” Fuchs
Fuchs was born in 1925 in Lwow, Poland (nowadays Ukraine).
Fuchs and his family were deported to the Lwow ghetto by the Nazis in 1941. For a time they hid in an attic until they were sent to the Lwow-Janowska concentration camp in the summer of 1942. On Christmas Eve, Fuchs escaped with a friend, Marian Pretzel, by digging underneath the fence.
Together they traveled to Kiev posing as Polish tradesman where, thanks to his fluency in German, Fuchs found a job as an interpreter for a German company. Charged by his employers with recruiting additional workers, he went back to Lwow and brought back 20 Jews, including his brother and father, who were later killed by the Gestapo. The 18 others all survived the war.
Later, Yona and Marain forged documents and posed as German soldiers to escape to Romania. In 1944, he arrived in Mandatory Palestine and took part in the War of Independence.
He has four grandchildren by his first wife, who is deceased, and three children and 10 grandchildren by his second.
• Andrei Calarasu (born Bernard Grupper)
Calarasu was born in 1930 in Botosani, Romania.
He survived an eight-day ordeal in 1941 during the Jassy pogrom committed by police, Romanian and German soldiers, and local citizens.
During the war he was a forced laborer for the Fascists until his liberation by the Red Army in 1945. After the war he changed his name to avoid prejudice and went on to become a film director in Romania.
He made aliya in 1965 where he worked for the Israel Broadcasting Authority for three decades.
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