George Stein: 1927 – 2022

April 19, 2022 by Features Desk
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Dad was born on the 1/2/1927 to Mikosh (Mikhael) Stein. He passed away yesterday.

George Stein

(Shoemaker) and Helena Stein. (Seamstress) and sister Angetta (secretary) at Oradea Romania 10KM from the Hungarian Romanian Border.

Oradea was a mid-sized town with an Active Jewish Ghetto.

Dad’s father was president of the Synagogue.

In 1943 They were transported by rail to Auschwitz on arrival and split into groups male and female etc.

That was the last they saw of his father mother and sister.

Whilst he was in the line, he was told to tell the soldiers that he was willing to work.

He was separated and sent by train to the famous Dora camp at Nordhausen North Germany` the site of the underground labour camp in the Hartz mountains where the V2 rockets were Manufactured.

Dad Stated Many Years Later that such a beautiful scenic place could be a scene of atrocities and forced labour.

Dora was a horrific place where thousands died, and perished Dad was one of the few survivors. His job was to manufacture the Gyro compasses which guided the Rockets. He did not have to sabotage the units as they did not work and exploded midair.

Dora was bombed by the allied forces and destroyed in April 1945.

The survivors were transferred to Bergen Belsen and liberated by the British Dad tells the story that the gates were opened, and he walked out to a field with beautiful trees and saw people in white gowns asleep he was tired and decided to have a lie down he was woken up by an English voice saying one of them is moving it was dad. One of the British soldiers in this regiment was a fellow by the name of Morrie Singer Who moved to Brisbane after the war and lived in Brisbane with his wife Grace children Pete, Steven, and Allan they became close family friends.

What kept dad going was to return home to Oradea he did this by going from The UK resettlement Camp at Admont in the Austrian Alps to Oradea he did this when he knocked on the door, he was happy that he made it home. At this point, Eastern Europe was taken over by the Russians and on his arrival the door was opened by a large Russian gentleman he told him to go away as the house was his, that broke dad’s heart. In 2014 My Wife and I did a trip in search of Dad’s house in Oradea. We arrived at the Hungarian Romania Border and stopped by armed guards who asked where are you from, we stated we are From Australia and looking for my father’s childhood house the guard stated to that I had a Romanian face and asked where did I get the vehicle from (Turbo Audi) I told him Avis Frankfurt Airport they held us for an hour. The guard then came back and said you can go now computer capput. Our next dilemma was how to find the house we had a rough address given to us by dad and a photo. I Showed the photo and address to the hotel manager he said tomorrow morning walk down the main road and you will see old men sitting down smoking and drinking coffee, we did this, and one fellow led us straight to the front door the front of the building was locked, and we could not get in. Over a few wines at the hotel, I pondered what do next at about 6pm we decided to go back and try again the gate was unlocked and we knocked on the front door a young Russian couple answered and showed us around we took photos and rung dad and told him you could hear the tears of joy. We also visited the synagogue which Dad’s father was President it is a huge structure and was the central hub of the vibrant community pre the Holocaust it was being renovated to its previous glory and we visit the college which dad attended across the road from the Synagogue.

He Returned to Admont where he met Gertrude Kager (The Love of His Life and Rock) and were married. a Marriage that lasted for over 60 years.

 He worked for the British Army resettlement Group whose job was to resettle Holocaust Survivors, working on their vehicles and was seconded to carry survivors through Italy to Israel. He was captured by the Italians and imprisoned he was freed by the British and him and mum were flown to Israel.

On Arrival in Israel, they joined the Israeli army and the Hagana. After the Army dad was employed by one of Israel’s top Lawyers and had a lifelong friendship. Life was finally good and Reuben and Myself were born and lived in Bat Yam.

Mum had a father, mother, brother, and sister who migrated to Brisbane in the late forties. They sponsored us to settle in Brisbane in 1955, we stayed at their house at Beatson Tce Grange, we then got involved with the Brisbane Jewish Community. Dad found a job at Fortitude valley with Jackson transport, and he used to walk From The Grange to Fortitude Valley and back. He used to take cold tea in a wine carafe to drink all the coworkers thought he was drinking alcohol.

A lucky opportunity arose in 1957 when a tin shed became available to rent on the corner of Hanford and Zillmere Rd Zillmere we moved to a small house at 390 Zillmere Rd Zillmere, Where Hannah, Frank and Benny were born. The shed could not be locked so dad slept there, and people started to knock asking for repairs and dad never said no to anyone this established his reputation.

In 1958 The Shell Company were looking to build a state-of-the-art Service Station This began a strong relationship that lasted for over 30 years with three upgraded sites. Business boomed over the years and contracts were gained with Major companies in the area for their mechanical repair day and night. Reuben tells the story of one night he went to give dad a hand with a truck a fellow came in with an expensive sports car that was playing up dad got a screwdriver and fixed it and charged him accordingly the fellow said you screwed me dad said yes, I did but I know what screw to turn. Dad retired in the mid 80’s.

Business was so successful that Dad and Mum built a modern five-bedroom double story house on top of the hill at Fernlea St Geebung which was lived in by Dad until his illness. Fernlea St was a hive of activity, especially the kitchen where Mum sat in residence knitting, drinking coffee and smoking, it was the hub of many discussions and meetings with a multitude of visitors. Functions were held there for example Melbourne Cup lunches for the NCJW.

As mentioned, the whole family became active in the local and Jewish Community. Reuben and I attended the First Betar Camp at Alexander Headland in 1957and dad and mums’ assistance continued for many years. Dad would transport baggage and supplies to camps and Mum would cook, source provisions for camps for many years. Frank rose to the position of head of Betar in Australia and went on to be youth director of Hennai youth Group in Sydney, and Australian Representative of the Zionist Federation of Australia in Jerusalem for many years until his passing.

 To say that dad was highly active in the community is an understatement he was a foundation member and Paul Harris Fellow of the Geebung Rotary Club. B’nei B’rith, President Brisbane Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society) for many years. President QLD state Zionist Council. QLD Ex Serviceman’s Association. And President South Brisbane Hebrew Congregation.

In the early 70, S The South Brisbane Synagogue was damaged by a devastating fire then the serious work began with fundraising, and reconstruction of a new Synagogue. I remember there were various fundraising events for example mum would hold bingo, it was a sight with mum and her German Shepard Mott and Dora Doobov travelling in mum’s Suzuki hatch to bingo events dad organized finance and bought land and a house at Bunya St Greenslopes, to build a state of the art and modern Synagogue and house the future Rabbi. The Synagogue was built basically brick by brick with most of the work being done by dad after hours. It included a 20ft Menorah which still stands proudly at the entrance yard. Mum spent hours sewing curtains and A Mikvah (Jewish Ritual Bath) was installed in the building. A Sefer Torah was secured on Loan from the Caulfield Synagogue.

Dads’ other great passion was about the Holocaust (Shoah) He organized a Holocaust exhibit at Brisbane City Hall in the 70’s, with Joe Beleke Peterson as patron and with the support of the then Lord Mayor Frank Sleeman lectured for many schools, service clubs. and organizations including The Sydney holocaust Museum, Local Media Interviews and stories. authored short books about his experiences. He also became incredibly involved with the Dora Museum and visited yearly in April for the survivor’s reunion. On return from one of his trips I picked dad up from the airport he bought me a present which he was very excited about 6 pairs of grandad underpants and a litre of Nordhausen Vodka cost $2.00 AUS. He became lifelong friends with Professor Dr Jens Wagner a world renowned Historian and head of Holocaust Memorials who dad helped with mentoring and assisting him with his thesis and Masters. We visited Dora in 2014 and Dad said to take 2 bottles of Grange Hermitage which Dr Wagner was over the moon about. We had a special treat during our visit. Dr Wagner opened and gave us a personal tour of the production facility I later found out that this is exceedingly rare as one of the only private tours was for Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edin borough.

The facility is an underground tunnel in the Hartz Mountains. It has an atmosphere of solemn as so many perished whilst working in forced labor many fell and died in the subterranean lakes from exhaustion. On entering the new Dora Museum, the first thing you see is a photo of Dad hanging on the right-hand side at the entrance.

Dad also did documentaries videos for German TV, BBC, and Canadian TV. And appeared in the DVD Dora.

Dad never got over mum passing in Feb 2006 as she was the glue that kept everything together, He kept busy the neighbours tell me he could be seen climbing the roof a feat that superman would not attempt. He would be a constant companion of his best friend George Frey and was a regular at his beloved South Brisbane Synagogue, where he assisted with services for many years. In the later years with the assistance of Gary Goldman he was transported to the synagogue.

For the past 2 years dads health has gone downhill with the onset of Dementia, he still tried to be independent with his strong will one example is he blew up the kettle and burnt his hand whilst making a cup of coffee he was caught by the police walking along Gympie Rd with the kettle going to Kmart to get a new one.

Dad was admitted to Regis Sandgate Lady Musgrave Nursing Home late in July 2021 he absconded 5 times on one occasion after he was returned by police, we found a plastic bag in his room containing a pair of shorts, t shirt, toothbrush and remotes for the air con and tv.

Dad was transferred to a secure unit at Regis Griffith cottages a 50-bed specialist Dementia unit with lovey self-contained units he loved this, and the staff all loved him his highlight was visiting and him having morning tea with us his appetite never waned, and he had to have 2 pieces of cake with his coffee. Over the past 4 months we have seen a side of dad never seen before he became very gentle funny and loving and with a soft and caring heart

May I thank Isabell Hudson the Critical Care Manager and staff at Regis Griffith for the love and compassion showed during these difficult times, especially dad gibbering in 7 different languages.

As there is talk of a holocaust Museum being built In Brisbane this was dads’ ultimate goal and I will lobby as strong as possible, so that dad and The Shoah be remembered. This story must be told so all will know.

Dad celebrated his 95th birthday on the 1st of February

 Shalom Dad we Love you

George Moshe Stein.

Husband of Gertrude (Trude) Stein (Decd)

Father to Reuben, Michael, Hannah, Frank (Decd) Benny

Grandfather to Rachel (Decd) Rebecca, Nicholas, Joseph, Noa, Tia.

Written by his son Michael.

Comments

One Response to “George Stein: 1927 – 2022”
  1. Lee-Ann Quicke says:

    We Must remember people Like George Stein! We Must Remember our History! So it Doesn’t Happen Again! Also we must be Thankful for his Courage in allowing us to know and learn what happened! Thank you George Does not seem Enough! For Telling and Teaching us! Also all the others!! Lee-Ann

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