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(September 6, 1923– December 23, 2020)
The Blue Card Board of Directors and staff mourns the passing of George Wolf, a retired garment manufacturer who was active in the Blue Card, a charity that aids Holocaust survivors. He died at the Dawn Greene Hospice in Manhattan on June 28. He was 92.
When the Germans marched inbto the remaining Czech lands in March 1939, my father, mother and I, forewarned the night before, drove to Prague, and by sheer luck got an exit visa from the Gestapo. We said tearful goodbyes to our extensive family, never to see any of them again. We first went to France but were across the lake in Switzerland when war broke out and France closed its borders. We didn’t know it then, but we had escaped the trap that Vichy France would become for its Jews, and found refuge in Switzerland.
Most of our family were herded into Theresienstadt (Terezin), and one by one, were shipped to Auschwitz. By the end of the war, I worked for the American Consulate in Zurich. In the summer of 1946, I had the chance to visit the Nurnberg War Crimes Trials, with the remaining Nazi leadership in the dock. I met Czech government representatives, got a nasty feeling of their Communist politics and anti-semitsm, and decided not to go back. My father had died in Switzerland, mother remarried and stayed there. At age 19, I got on the first civilian ship to America, landed in NY in late 1946, and rebuilt my life. I became a fashion designer, consultant and eventually manufacturer. By 2005, as the industry migrated to China, I had to close my business, and at my age, had become unemployable. Instead, I found a new career and a much more fulfilling life of volunteer work with The Blue Card, aiding Holocaust survivors far less fortunate than me. At age 85, I expect to retire in about fifteen years.
Photo courtesy – New York Times
(March 19, 1932 – October 19, 2020)
The Blue Card Board of Directors and staff mourn the untimely death of Fred Rosenberg, beloved father, grandfather, friend, professor, sheriff’s department volunteer, world traveler and punster.
Fred was born March 19, 1932 in Berlin, Germany. He emigrated to New York City with his parents 7 years later. He grew up in Manhattan, ran track and was valedictorian of his high school class. Fred went on to study history and philosophy at NYU. After spending a summer at U Wisconsin, he fell in love with microbiology and went on to receive his Master’s degree and PhD from Univ of Florida and Rutgers University, respectively. During this time, he also served in the US Armed Forces in Camp Zama, Japan.
Fred began teaching Microbiology at Northeastern University in Boston, Ma in 1960. He had a special interest in the microbiology of water and served on the House Subcommittee on Bottled Water. After retiring for about 20 minutes in 1999, Fred and his wife Liane moved to Westlake Village, CA where he continued to teach Medical Microbiology at California Lutheran University until his death last week.
Fred also served as a volunteer for the past 20 years at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. He was a voracious reader, adored classical music, travel, crossword puzzles, his cats, and puns. A true Renaissance man and a gentleman through and through, he valued honesty and wisdom. His legacy of making lives better for others and his spirit of gratitude will carry on through his daughter Alysa, son-in-law Bruce, and grandchildren Gabi and Jonah.
See obituary, courtesy of Legacy.com
(December 1, 1933 – November 25, 2020)
Sir James Wolfensohn (1933-2020) was Chairman of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC, a firm which he started in 1982 to advise the senior managements of major international corporations on acquisition strategy and implementation. In the firm, he was joined by Paul Volcker and Frank Petito, former Chair of Morgan Stanley. Each acted as Chair of the firm. He left the firm in 1995 to become President of the World Bank Group (1995-2005), during which he travelled to more than 120 countries, and thereafter held the post of Special Envoy for Gaza disengagement representing the Quartet: the USA, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union (2005-06). During his absence, the firm was sold ultimately to the Deutsche Bank, which allowed him to reconstitute his firm in 2007. Earlier in his professional life, he worked in the Schroder group from 1962, starting at Darling and Company in Australia and thereafter in other leading positions, finishing as Executive Deputy Chairman and Group Chief Executive of Schroders Limited in London. In 1977, he retired and became a member of the Executive Committee of Salomon Brothers in New York, responsible for Corporate Finance, until he created his own firm in 1982. Wolfensohn also served as Chairman of the Citigroup International Advisory Board (2006-2014).
While pursuing his business career he built a life working in public service, the Arts and philanthropy. He became Chair of the Customs House and worked with David Rockefeller, Senator Moynihan and a distinguished board, to save that historic building in lower New York City. Subsequently, he joined the Board of Carnegie Hall in 1972 and helped save it from destruction. He restored the Hall while serving as Chairman from 1980 to 1991 when, at the request of President Bush, he became Chair of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington until 1995. Sir James was appointed as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994) and as a Member of the American Philosophical Society (1997), and served as Chairman Emeritus for both the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
Wolfensohn was Chairman of the board of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1986-2007). During these years he joined the Boards and chaired the Finance Committee of the Rockefeller Foundation and related entities. He served during this time on the Boards of the Kennedy Family Trust, the Carnegie Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Center and Yad Hanadiv, a Foundation of the Rothschild Family.
Wolfensohn earned degrees of B.A. and LL.B. at the University of Sydney and qualified as a lawyer (1957). He became an officer in the Royal Australian Air force and a member of the Australian Olympic Team in 1956. He received an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1959. He has received national recognition from fifteen countries, including the Knighthood from the UK and the highest orders from Germany, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Morocco, France, Holland, and others. He has received honorary degrees, awards and medals from many institutions throughout the world in recognition of his public service and his support for the arts; most recently, the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and the Institute for Advanced Study’s Bamberger Medal.
Photo courtesy – Wikipedia
(February 22, 1926 – August 16, 2019)
The Blue Card Board of Directors and staff mourns the passing of Edda Servi Machlin, Champion of Italian Jewish Cuisine, a Holocaust survivor and beloved mother of Blue Card Board President, Gia Machlin.
Photo courtesy – New York Times
(Dec. 21, 1937 – May 29, 2019)
The Blue Card family mourns the loss of one of our brightest lights. Irene Hizme was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, and a steadfast supporter of The Blue Card’s mission. She faced life’s challenges with irrepressible wit and generosity, in spite of enduring a horrific childhood as the subject of experimentation by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz.
Irene firmly believed and often stated that “the road to Auschwitz is paved with silence.” She therefore spoke publicly about her experiences during the Holocaust and the need to stand against all forms of genocide. Together with her twin brother René Slotkin, she was the subject of the 2005 documentary film René and I.
Despite serious health struggles, Irene created magnificent calligraphic art embellished with handmade dried flowers. Her cards and scrolls are cherished by all who received them. Our hearts go out to her husband Sam, daughter and son-in-law Lori and Jonathan, daughter Robin, and her grandchildren, Perrin, Rami, Lilah, and Chaim.
by Zeva Oelbaum
(December 7, 1922 – February 22, 2017)
Frank Harris was a German Jewish survivor and Blue Card Board Member. He had an unparalleled dedication to his heritage and the struggles of his generation to transcend the horrors of Nazi Germany. He was a kind and sensitive man with a passion for life, regardless of the obstacles.
Frank was a tireless fighter of children’s nutrition. He was instrumental in the creation of the school lunch program in this country. Never satisfied to just supply food, his mission was to create a consciousness around the importance of providing children with healthy food, and its impact on learning.
He embraced the past while zealously advocating for the future, starting a multigenerational newsletter for survivors of the Holocaust, their children and their children’s children. He exhorted that survivor guilt is real and that confronting the pain of the past was the best way to moved forward.
In our world today – our current American dilemma – he was the epitome of who we should want to be. He is gone but his message is clear: Never forget, and act as if you have never forgotten.
by Joannie Bachenheimer
(September 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016)
On behalf of The Blue Card which serves Holocaust survivors in the United States, we mourn the passing of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Professor Elie Wiesel, who has made an incredible impact on our world in his fight for freedom, justice and the memory of the Holocaust and its victims.
The Blue Card presented the Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Social Justice to Professor Wiesel on November 16, 2015 at the New York Public Library. It was a great honor to have known him.
May his words guide us all for generations to come. He continues to be an inspiration to us and we will carry on his work for Holocaust survivors knowing the difference he made for The Blue Card, Holocaust education and support.
Max Heine was a giver. He gave because he felt it was the right thing to do; because he cared deeply about other people; and because not giving was not an option for him. Max was born in 1910 in Berlin. His father was a doctor and his mother’s family owned a large factory that manufactured automobiles, motorcycles and munitions. As a teenager, he rode the company motorcycles, and when he wrecked one, he simply got a new one. He wasn’t much of a student. The comments on his report card ranged from “nicht genügend” (not sufficient) to “mangelhaft”(unsatisfactory) to “genügend” (sufficient). Max was considered the black sheep of the family,and not only because of his grades. He was distressed by the social inequities of the day. While studying law-not very successfully-at the University of Heidelberg in the late 1920’s, he became seriously involved in leftwing politics. A family rumor alleged that he tried to organize the workforce at the family factory. True or not, it suggests where his sympathies lay. In the early 1930’s he was arrested for his activities with anti-Nazi organizations, which turned out to be a stroke of good fortune. He saw the writing on the wall and in 1933 abandoned his law< studies and emigrated to the U.S. Many of his relatives were not so lucky.
In America, Max had to start at the bottom. His first job was as a salesman for women’s haberdashery and men’s neckties. He wasn’t much of a salesman, and if he knew anything about fashion, he kept it well concealed. Soon he moved on to a job as a runner in a Wall Street brokerage firm. He had no idea that within a few decades he’d be known as “The Dean of Wall Street.”
It was around this time that he fell in love with Lotte Hirsch, another German émigré. They married in 1938 and remained inseparable until her death almost 50 years later. They had three daughters, Doris, Karin and Peggy, and lived in the same house in Roslyn for 40 years.
Max flourished on Wall Street, first by helping many of his fellow émigrés invest their savings, then by spotting value in the bonds of bankrupt companies. In 1949 he took over the leadership of Mutual Shares, a pioneering mutual fund. He later became chairman of Herzog, Heine, Geduld, and chairman of Heine Securities. No matter how brilliantly he maneuvered in the world of capitalism, Max never cared all that much about money. He cared about people. He always thought of the stock market as a game; he enjoyed the game immensely, but it didn’t make him feel bigger or smarter or worthier than anyone else, and it was never the most important thing in his life. He was an incredibly loyal friend, a loving husband and father, a doting grandfather. He considered himself a very lucky man, and he wanted to help others. He never thought of it as a sacrifice; he just thought of it as the thing to do, as natural as getting up in the morning. And Blue Card was the perfect fit-helping people like him, but less fortunate.
(June 29, 1959 – August 25, 2014)
The untimely passing of my brother, Dr. Mark Babyatsky will remain one of his family’s greatest personal losses. To us, his family, he was warm, caring, playful, and gifted in so many different ways. Mark was well read in all genres, the arts, theatre, and politics. He enjoyed debating with anyone fool enough to start an argument about the next election or Hollywood’s Academy Awards in almost every category and year. Mark was well rounded in all his varied interests.
Education was a priority in our Bronx working class family. It was virtually predetermined at a young age that Mark was going to excel in all his studies, and ultimately become a doctor. Mark attended Bronx HS of Science, Columbia College, received his MD degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1984 and completed his internal medicine residency and chief residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Mark was recruited to Mass General Hospital for a GI fellowship program. Later on, Mark returned to Mount Sinai for Gastroenterology, rising in 2010 to become Chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine. In this capacity, Mark ‘s expertise in the health care reforms allowed him to make major strides in the educational , research missions of the Department, and patient relationships. In 2014, he assumed new challenges as the Chair of Medicine at Monmouth Medical Center, St. Barnabas Medical Group.
Throughout his career, Mark was a distinguished physician, well recognized for his work nationally, receiving many honors and scholarship awards. He exhibited strong leadership skills, developing several research initiatives as a Director of the Education Research Consortium of Program Directors, working with the American College of Physicians. He published a defining textbook in the Genomics field, intended to educate physicians and trainees on how to apply genetics-era medicine to real world medicine. He was particularly concerned about passing on the ethical nature of medicine.
Mark’s love of learning was equally matched with his unique gift of teaching and mentoring, recognized in awards at the Medical School. Many of residents, now physicians in their own right have filled pages in tributes to Mark for his teaching and mentoring prowess always conducted with a gentle and kind touch. Mark had a caring and compassionate personality. He respected his patients, his residents, his colleagues and all he came in contact with. As a son of a Holocaust survivor, Mark developed programs to educate medical students and physicians about the atrocities of that era. Since 2004, he served on the Board of Directors of The Blue Card, an organization whose mission is to provide funds to Holocaust survivors in need. Paralleling his move in this direction, Mark met a holocaust survivor (Irene Hizme) who had had performed medical experiments on her and her twin brother, Rene by Josef Mengele. Irene needed a medical procedure but given the trauma she experienced during the holocaust, she was refusing treatment. Mark was able to gain Irene’s trust which ultimately saved her life. Mark and Irene remained close friends until Mark’s passing.
Mark had more challenges he was looking forward to solving in the future. Mark leaves a truly impressive legacy to his family, his friends, his colleagues, his patients, and future physicians. He was successful as a physician, an educator, a mentor, an innovator, and as a leader.
(April 4, 1928 – June 23, 2014)
The family of Margit Ulrich is deeply honored that The Blue Card is renaming its joint Simcha Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program with the Anne Frank Center, in her memory.
Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1928, Margit immigrated to the United States in 1938. She and her sister Rita were first welcomed to Chicago by a foster family while their father found work and a place for them to live in New York; the three were reunited a few months later. Margit tended to recall few of the hardships she faced in having to flee her native land, but rather focused on the kindnesses she received as a young German Jewish immigrant in the United States. Despite the hardships of her childhood she was deeply conscious of what she considered her good fortune and actively reached out to children, elderly and infirm people, through teaching, family dinners and charitable contributions. As the Trinity School’s Transportation Coordinator for many years, Margit also took a personal extra step each year with fourth grade students, by sharing her own Holocaust survival story, as well as the story of her second cousin, Anne Frank. Children were always greatly moved by Margit’s history and she would answer every question with honesty and respect. In February 2007, the New York Times profiled her efforts as part of their ongoing chronicle of ordinary New Yorkers doing heroic work.
As part of her 15-year role on the Board of The Blue Card, Margit carefully considered applications from Holocaust survivors for emergency funding of health and living needs. She was a life-long, passionate advocate for the less fortunate, and believed in the mission of The Blue Card, to honor and give back to Holocaust survivors, and to educate the next generation in a mission of charity and respect.
(1927 – February 22, 2021)
Leo was a long-time President of the National Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (NAHOS), and author of the NAHOS Newsletter. His thorough and professional journalistic devotion to informing the survivor community, public officials and other dignitaries about survivors’ affairs, made the NAHOS Newsletter the authoritative voice of grass roots Holocaust survivors in the United States. Along with his passion to inform, protect, and assist Holocaust survivors, Leo approached every issue deliberately, and with intelligence and wisdom. So, when Leo took a stand to protect and advance survivors’ rights, interests, and needs, those on the other side were invariably outmatched, and knew it.
Just one year after The Blue Card Foundation honored Elie Wiesel, in 2016 Leo was awarded the same honors for his extraordinary contributions to support impoverished survivors, and his support of the Blue Card’s important mission of providing direct financial assistance to needy Holocaust survivors.
Leo was born to Jossel and Jyte Rechter, in Vienna, Austria, in 1927. Following Kristallnacht, and after a brutal beating of his father by local authorities, Leo and his family fled their home in Vienna, escaping to Brussels, Belgium, leaving all their worldly possessions behind.
Following the Nazi invasion of Belgium, his father was captured and ultimately transferred to the Auschwitz death camp, where he was killed. After the loss of his father at age 12, Leo spent the rest of the War in Brussels in hiding, as the sole support for his family. There they remained, running from secret place to secret place. Always just ahead of the Gestapo and local authorities, they were almost apprehended a number of times, but for Leo’s cunning and in some cases blind fortune. Because of his light complexion, blond hair and blue-eyes, Leo avoided capture by the Nazis when out, by effectively hiding in plain sight. Leo always put his mother and 2 younger siblings first, doing everything he could to provide for them and keep them safe. Among other things, to try and support the family he sold black market bread, old clothing that his mother and sister refurbished at home, and peddled cigarettes made from discarded butts. After the war, Leo went to Israel, where he met the love of his life, Fortunee (Toni), who had previously fled to Israel from Iraq. In 1958, Leo and Fortunee decided to seek out a new life in the United States, and moved to New York, were married, and started a new life together.
Leo’s final decades of hard work, focusing solely on those in need who could not ably represent themselves, epitomized all that is still good with humanity. Those who knew him, share his family’s everlasting respect, pride and deep appreciation for all that he has selflessly given to help others.