Schindler Jew buried in a city he has never seen

May 11, 2009 by J-Wire
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Lolek Selinger was buried in Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney this morning…a city he has never seen.

Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler

The 82-year-old Polish Holocaust survivor who owed his life to Oskar Schindler, was laid to rest near his father and brother…the end of a long and bizarre family life.

His body had been flown from his home town of Wiesbaden in Germany to be buried in a city and a country he had never seen.

The Selinger family lived in the Polish city of Krakow when WWII broke out with the exception of their son and brother, Akivah, who had travelled to Palestine in 1935 to play soccer for Poland in the first Maccabiah. Akivah liked what he saw and stayed on, joining the Hagganah and later after the outbreak of war, the Jewish Brigade in the British Army.

Meanwhile at home, things were not going well in the Ghetto. Shimon Selinger’s wife Malka was murdered by the Germans. Their daughter Miriam resisted attempts by the Nazis who wanted to tear her tiny baby daughter Celina from her arms. She resisted under threat of death and that is exactly what happened. In cold blood, the Germans took her life…and the baby’s.

Oskar Schindler came to the rescue of Shimon and the 13-year-old Lolek. But Shimon’s other sons Oscar, Motek and Moniek were to see out the war in the horror of the concentration camps. Schindler was to justify the use of children telling the authorities there was work only small hands could carry out.

In 1945, Akivah entered the camps with the liberating Allied forces. On  each occasion he would ask the whereabouts of his own family but without success.

However, in one camp, he knelt down by the frail emaciated body of a Jew he was about to help…and asked him had he heard of the family Selinger. The hollowed face and  searching eyes stared into Akivah’s as the man’s lips whispered: “I am Oscar Selinger.”  Akivah had found his own brother!

Well on the road to recovery, Oscar joined Akivah on a mission of hope to the synagogue in Krakow on Yom Kippur…the hope of finding other family members. In the Shul, with no idea of what was about to happen, Shimon and Lolek Selinger were praying. Shimon Selinger had been re-united with his sons.

Brothers Motek and Moniek fled Europe in search of a peaceful future in Buenos Aires.

Under a United Nations Refugee plan, Oscar emigrated to Sydney in 1949. In the meantime, Akivah smuggled Lolek into Palestine…but he did not stay there for long, heading to Paris where he married a Belgian woman. The marriage was not to last long and Lolek lost contact with most of his family.

In 1952, Shimon joined his son Oscar in Sydney where he had settled with Akivah and his daughter Ilana in 1951. Oscar was a member of the original Hakoah soccer club.

Shimon died in Sydney in 1967 without ever having seen his son Lolek again.

Akivah, who had become known as Jack Selinger, had become ill in Argentina whilst visiting his brothers, dying there in 1972. His body brought back to Sydney for burial.

Having lost touch with the family, Ilana was surprised to hear from Lolek in 2002…but the news was not good. Oscar was seriously ill in Sydney and he passed away in 2003.

Three weeks ago in Wiesbaden, Lolek Selinger called his family in Sydney, telling them what he had told the local Jewish community: “I am going into hospital for a simple hernia operation…but if anything should happen to me, I want to be buried next to my father and brother in Sydney.” The operation was simple…but he developed pneumonia. The disease was to prove fatal.

And today in a city he never saw, in a country he never visited, bridge-teacher Lolek [Leon] Selinger lies buried close to his father and his brothers.


One Response to “Schindler Jew buried in a city he has never seen”
  1. Leon Arie says:

    I am the grand son of Aron and Lea Selinger and the son of Chaim (Henek) Selinger. If I am not mistaken Shimon Selinger and Aron Selinger were brothers.
    Currently I live in Israel
    Wonder if we are blood related ?

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