Bernard Korbman and Mara Moustafine.
16 April 2009
source not available
This museum was started mainly by members of two organisations: one was the Kadima who were Bundists, left wing people from Poland. And who had a very strong hold of their Yiddish culture. The second group was a - again a very vibrant group called, “The Association of Polish Jews.” There’s only two or three members left of the Association of Polish Jews. But between the two of them, they had this vision of starting a centre where the story of the holocaust was to be told. The two co-presidents were a gentleman by the name of Bono Weiner (sp?) and Bono was from the Kadima and Mr Sokolovitch (sp?) who was from the association of – or Federation for Polish Jews.
A lady who was very helpful to them, Mina Fink (sp?) donated $50,000 towards the establishment of this place and Mina Fink came from a very great philanthropic family in Melbourne, the Fink family, and she was quite a visionary in terms of education. And what really stunned me when I first read the mission statement of this place and I’ll give you a copy later, what really stunned me was the great foresight of the founders because they declared that this place was to be a memorial for the six million who died. But the second part basically says that the best way to fight anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice wherever it occurs, it through education and that is what this place would set itself up to be.
And so from very early on, these survivors put together this museum only with this $50,000 from Mina Fink, no government grant, they scrounged around from other survivors and they got things to exhibit and so on. They cleaned toilets, they did everything themselves. They went to the Camberwell Market to actually buy nails and things like that to hang up exhibits or to make a door or whatever, every single penny was accounted for. And they built up this amazing place. And within a very short time, this little museum was having larger numbers of visitors than most museums except for the art gallery and the major museums in Melbourne. The museum opened in 1984 and since 1984 we are now getting close to – you know somewhere between 450 and 500,000 kids coming through this museum.
And as I say, that’s an amazing thing for a non-government institution that was started by these survivors.