This month we remember Garry Rogers, one of the Holocaust survivors who made South Australia their home, who was born on 8 December 1923.
In 1933 when the Nazis came into power, Garry’s life changed dramatically. In 1938, Garry’s school and synagogue were burnt down during the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) pogrom and his education came to an end at age 14.
Garry survived the Holocaust because he was part of the Kindertransport (Children’s Transport) when, following Kristallnacht, the British government agreed to accept almost 10,000 Jewish refugee children under the age of 17 as temporary residents to Great Britain. Aged just 15 Garry left Germany on 30 March 1939. He was to spend his first six months in England living in a hostel before getting a job and as soon as he was able, he joined the British army.
In March 1945, Garry’s regiment entered the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany. He saw with his own eyes the fate he had escaped due to the sacrifice of his parents and the humanity of Great Britain in allowing 10,000 refugee children to find a home amongst compassionate strangers. He never saw his parents Erich and Lydia again. They and Garry’s grandparents as well as numerous uncles, aunts and cousins all perished in the Holocaust. Only his older sister Ruth, who managed to escape to the US before the war, survived.
Garry emigrated to South Australia from the UK in 1964 with his wife Lisa and four young children. He and Lisa ran a Janome sewing machine business in St Agnes Shopping centre and were later blessed with 10 grandchildren. We were delighted and honoured to welcome his eldest grandchild Diane to the museum recently with her daughter Maddie and hear about how Diane had discovered her grandfather’s traumatic childhood whilst she was a teenager through a Year 10 History assignment she was writing for school. It was from about this time that Garry began to reconnect with his past and his Jewish heritage as well as talk publicly about the Holocaust, culminating in writing his memoirs ‘Interesting Times’ in 2011. It was very special to hear Diane’s personal memories of her grandfather – his gentle kindness, business acumen, his love of travel, his family as well as the Crows!
Garry passed away in 2016 at age 92.
You can find out more about Garry and his remarkable story of survival at the museum. Plan your visit here.