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John Hirschfeld

Photographer: Meg Hansen

John met his future wife in a Swiss refugee camp at the end of the war and they emigrated to South Australia where they raised four children.

Born Joachim Hirschfeld in 1920 in the German city of Halle, John’s schooldays were traumatic as a Jewish boy under the Nazi regime. At 18 John fled to the Netherlands and worked on an agricultural camp with other Jewish young people. Twice he dodged deportation to concentration camps before making a daring escape across Europe, on foot, and by train, finally crossing the border to Switzerland and safety.

John turned 100 on 9 April 2020. Despite the COVID pandemic, he overcame adversity yet again, enjoying socially distant celebrations with his Adelaide-based family at his nursing home. He passed away 3 weeks later.

The Adelaide Holocaust Museum and Andrew Steiner Education Centre acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation, past, present and future, and the continuation of cultural, spiritual, and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. AHMSEC stands on Kaurna land.

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