Holocaust survivor named as Australia Day Ambassador in Victoria

January 8, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Richard Rozen will present the Citizen of the Year Award to this year’s honoree in Girgarre, Victoria.

Richard Rozen

The small country town lies 27 kms from Shepparton is adairy farming centre and hosts a Heinz food factory.

Rozen, 74, has been chosen by Victoria’s Australia Day Committee as an ambassador and will address the small township on January 26.

Born in Radom, Poland, he was six years old when he hid with his parents in a cupboard for 13 months forced eventually to move to the Lubin Ghetto when their money ran out. Destined for the Treblinka Extermination Camp, the Rozencwajg family was smuggled to the safety of a Polish village where Richard spent several months disguised as a girl using the name Marisa Ulecki.

He eventually joined his doctor father in the partisans and survived there for 18 months until liberation. His father was not so fortunate. He was captured by the Germans in 1944 and never seen again.

Rozen arrived in Australian in 1951 with his mother. The 17-yr-old studied Electrical Engineering at the RMIT, establishing a chess club,  founding the St Kilda Chess Club two years later on. Rozen went on to establish businesses in knitting and confectionery whilst adding bridge to his mental games ability, representing Australia in the World Bridge Championships in 1982.

He turned his attention the Child Survivors of the Holocaust, a group he convened in 1994.

His achievements have been outstanding. Among his chosen activities he lists Honorary Treasurer, Katzetlers, Partisans and Fighters Association, National Chess Master, Bridge Grand Master, Order of Australia Medal for services to chess and bridge as well as community through the Jewish Holocaust Museum.

Rozen was president of the Victoria Bridge Association for 11 years and spent 10 years as a guide in the Jewish Holocaust Museum among many other worhty activities.

His wartime experience’s were highlighted in Jane Mark’s novel “The Hidden Children” and Dr Paul Valent’s “Child Survivors”.

Rozen told J-Wire: “It is a huge privilege and honour for me. Australia has been wonderful to me and I am grateful for a chance to give something back. I am looking forward to hopefully having an opportunity to meet Prince William who will attend an Australia Day function I will be at. My grandchildren would love to get his autograph.”

He will have an interesting story to tell the good people of Girgarre on Australia Day. A spokesperson for the Australia Day Committee told J-Wire: “The ambassadors have been chosen from the fields of business, the arts, sports and culutral activities. Their brief is simple. We hope those who hear them will find some form of inspiration in what they have to say.”

Rozen’s address is sure to be an inspiration to all.

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