Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Deaf Society Seeks Clues About Jewish Benefactors

The Deaf Society of New South Wales is searching for clues about the lives of a late Sydney Jewish couple and their deaf Holocaust survivor niece, in order to set up a permanent memorial in their name.

Sydney couple Alfred and Elsa Epstein bequeathed more than $1 million to the society in 1989, after their niece, Elisabeth (Lotte) Schiller, went to live at the society’s facilities years earlier.

To this day, the donation provides income from investments, which fund the society’s services.

The Deaf Society is planning to name its new Parramatta headquarters the Epstein-Schiller Centre, and it is currently attempting to locate extended family or community members, who can provide additional information that may help establish the memorial.

According to previous staff testimonies, the Epsteins fled Austria to escape Nazi persecution in 1936. After the war, Alfred Epstein returned to Europe to find his deaf niece was the lone survivor from among 43 members of his family.

The Epsteins later approached the society to help care for her, and she eventually took up residence in the Deaf Society Hostel in 1982, where she lived until her death, a decade later.

“Lotte survived the concentration camp because the commander of the camp, in which she had been interned as a child, took pity on her by providing work in the camp kitchen, as he had a deaf child himself,” said the society’s executive director, Sharon Everson. (Source: Australian Jewish News

To help the society with its search, call Sharon Everson at (02) 9893 8555.

Click here to read the entire article.

Click here to visit the Deaf Society Website

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