Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Statements by Members
Fogel, Mr Jack, Intolerance
Last Sunday, whilst seeking inspiration for my final week in the parliament, I visited the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne. There an elderly gentleman, short in stature and hard of hearing, offered to show me and others around. His name was Jack Fogel. While showing us around, Jack showed us the number on his arm: 140934, the number that was tattooed on his arm at 15 years of age in Auschwitz as a Jewish prisoner of Nazi Germany. Jack instantly had my attention. Jack was 94 years old. Jack's story was: two years in Auschwitz, surviving two death marches, moving across numerous concentration camps in Germany, being loaded into one of four ships as prisoners, only to have three of those ships shot down and sunk by Allied bombing—and surviving. Jack lost his mum, his dad and all his brothers and sisters in the Second World War. In 1949, speaking no English, Jack came to Australia. He said to me, 'I haven't made a lot of decisions, but the decision to come to Australia was the greatest decision I ever made.'
Jack reminds us that we must never forget what humans can do to each other. Jack volunteers his time, speaks to young Australians and is a voice for remembering the past and also to say that we should not judge others by their race or their religion. Jack, you were born in Poland, but you are a great Australian. Thank you for the two hours of your time. It was a privilege to be beside you.