Dr. Henry Buch, was born in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941.
His mother’s family had a large textile factory on Mila Street, where the family moved after Henry’s birth.
A few days after Henry’s birth, Jeshaya was arrested on the street and sent to a forced labour camp in Lublin, before being marched to Majdanek where he was murdered two years later. As the Warsaw Ghetto roundups escalated, Sara hid her infant son wherever she could, each time taping his mouth to keep him from crying out. Fortunately, a sympathetic German guard helped Henry’s Uncle Henyek to smuggle Henry out of the Ghetto in a brown paper bag.
Henyek’s then girlfriend had an aunt and uncle who lived in the Polish countryside with their young daughter. The family agreed to look after Henry, a pretty baby with blond hair and blue eyes, but decided it would be safer to raise him in public as a girl called “Lalka” (Polish for doll).
Henry was not well treated while with the family, and at just three-years-old, he ran away, ending up in an orphanage run by nuns in Otwock.
Sara, meanwhile, had survived the war, and after being liberated from a labour camp in Gorlitz set off to find her son in the spring of 1945. She traveled over 800 miles, often on foot searching for him. Finally, she located Henry in a children’s home in Zakopane, Poland and they were reunited.
The remnants of Henry’s family decided to leave the devastation of Europe behind them and emigrated to Australia.
Henry and his mother built a successful life in Australia. Henry grew up in Parkville and trained as a Physiotherapist and Podiatrist and Celebrant, was elected as a councilor in the Cities of Stonnington and Glen Eira and remains very active in the Jewish and greater community in a variety of roles over eight decades.
This evening after speaking at one of the last remaining Synagogues in Krakow with the incredible March of The Living group from Australia, Henry joined me and we wrote a letter in the remarkable Survivor Torah. How powerful to do this with a survivor in Poland on Yom HaShoah!