WElcome to the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo's virtual exhibit for Witnesses: Buffalo's Holocaust-Era Stories
This exhibition was presented at Buffalo State College from Nov. 1-30, 2017 thanks to the E.O. Smith Arts and Humanities Faculty Development Award. The virtual exhibit mirrors the physical exhibit and follows 8 survivors and 1 liberator through the themes of: movement, anti-Semitism, corporation, and resilience.
Joseph Bolinsky (January 17, 1917-November 15, 2002)
· Joseph was a Combat Engineer in France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia for the 16th Armored Division from 1943-1946.
· He worked with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to help displaced Jews in Ansbach and Struth in Germany.
· Because he grew up speaking Yiddish at home, he was able to assist Jews he saw in Munich and could direct them to the Jewish Agency, a relief agency.
· In a video interview with the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, he recounts that he regretted not doing more for the people he encountered while serving in the army.
For more on Joseph Bolinsky click here
Julius "Joe" Diamond (February 1, 1929-March 19, 2017)
· Joe experienced anti-Semitism as a boy before the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia.
· In 1944, Joe and his family were sent to Auschwitz.
· While there, Dr. Josef Mengele deemed him unfit to work. He was sentenced to die, but he was saved by the kindness of a Russian prisoner.
· After the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia, then moved to Great Britain and finally settled in Buffalo where he set up a successful construction company called Diamondcraft Homebuilders.
For more on Joe Diamond click here
William "Bill" Eisen (July 25, 1920-October 25, 2008)
· Bill grew up in a small town in Poland near Krakow where he worked as a tailor.
· He was sent to six different camps from 1942 to the end of the war in 1945.
· Bill's wife Sara was also a Holocaust Survivor. They met in Poland when Bill returned after Liberation.
· After the war, he immigrated with his wife and new born son, Sanford, to Buffalo. Bill eventually became the Director of Alterations for all Kleinhans and Hartmarx department stores.
For more on William click here
Henry Joseph (1925-June 12, 2002)
· Before the war Henry’s family owned a matzah factory.
· After Kristallnacht, only one person in their town had the courage to hide the family after they were chased from their home, the Catholic priest.
· Henry and his sister were separated for their safety; Henry went to Luxembourg and Ruth went to Holland. He never saw her again.
· Henry was held in Lodz ghetto until 1944, held in Auschwitz for two weeks, and was then sent on a march to Bergen-Belsen. It was on this march that his group was rescued by British soldiers. As a result of these events, Henry was spared from the atrocities of Auschwitz.
For more on Henry click here
Stephan Lewy (March 11, 1925-Present)
· After the death of his mother, Stephan’s father sent him to live at the Auerbach Orphanage until such time his father remarried and someone could be home to help raise him.
· He escaped Germany through a Kindertransport to France.
· Stephan travelled to the U.S. on the Serpa Pinto in Spring 1942 at the age of 17. Within a year he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
· He worked as military intelligence as a Ritchie Boy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped to liberate Buchenwald.
To learn more about Stephan click here
Dr. Sol Messinger (June 16, 1932-Present)
· Sol and his parents were passengers on the SS St. Louis in 1939. They sailed to Cuba for refuge but were forced to return to Europe. They disembarked in Belgium and upon the Nazi invasion of Belgium, escaped to Vichy (free) France.
· They escaped a detention camp and hid in a small town, where his father did small jobs as a tailor and in return no-one in the town turned them in.
· After three years, the family managed to get passage on the Serpa Pinto in the spring of 1942. After they arrived at Ellis Island, they made their way to stay with family in Buffalo.
For more on Sol click here
Anna Post [Dula] (1923-Present)
· Anna was the youngest of six siblings and raised in a very religious household.
· Anna’s blond hair and blue eyes gave her confidence to blend in and she snuck out of the town to get food for her family.
· Anna was able acquire false papers bearing a non-Jewish identity. The forged birth certificate and identity card bore the name of Salomea Czaplinska. They were excellent forgeries, but ink spilled on the ID card while Anna was adding her fingerprint. The smudges made the ID questionable and caused her to be caught.
· Anna was sent to Auschwitz – but she was never identified as Jewish. In the picture taken you can see the triangle identifies her as Polish. Regardless, the Nazi’s tattoo system applied to all inmates.
· After the war she returned to Poland and eventually emigrated to Buffalo in the 1960s with her husband and children.
Learn more about Anna by clicking here
Mark Solarz (April 4, 1929-Present)
· Mark was one of seven children born to textile store owners.
· During the war, Nazi’s forced him to perform manual labor until placing him in Buchenwald.
· After the war, he moved to Israel where he lived for fifteen years before moving to Buffalo.
· In Buffalo, he worked as a wholesale used car salesman. He and his wife, Dvorah have two children.
Learn more about Mark here
Sophia Veffer (1929-Present)
· Sophia says, “The Holocaust changed her by making her a "Jew.” She was always Jewish, before the war it was never dominated her life.
· Her father made arrangements for the family to go into hiding in Amsterdam. Three conditions were necessary for this: “1) You had to have money; 2) you had to know a non-Jewish family; and 3) you had to fit a certain profile -- not look too Jewish, not too young or too old, and you could not be sickly or pregnant.”
· She had several hiding places. Hiding was difficult not only for the Jews, but for the host family as well.
· Her current life goal is to influence students to become upstanders: and stand up to the injustice they see in the world.
Learn more about Sophia here