A couple who escaped the Holocaust and found each other in their newly adopted home of Israel have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Judy and Boris Shuchman, now residents of Courtlands Village in North Parramatta, came face to face with the Nazis but were some of the more fortunate Jews who escaped Europe before the outbreak of World War II.
Judy grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and still vividly remembers a day when the Nazis chased her and her sister out of the Rhine after a day of swimming.
“The Nazis came with knives and started to hit everybody. I was eight and my sister was five. We were so frightened and without any clothes or anything we got away,” Judy said.
Her father was very active in the Jewish community in Mannheim, and her parents soon decided to leave Germany and find safety in Israel – or Palestine as it was known at the time.
Boris was born in Russia but at six months old was taken to Austria with his three siblings by his mother, after his father was murdered.
He remembers when Hitler visited Vienna in 1938, and the thousands of people who raised their arms and shouted “Heil Hitler”.
“I said to myself Boris, it’s time to go,” he said.
He was part of the Jewish Underground in Austria, and managed to get on a ship organised by their counterparts in Israel, that took him first to Greece, and then to Israel.
However, soon after arriving in Israel Boris joined the British Army to fight the Nazis and was sent to the Middle East and then back to Greece, where he was captured and sent to a Prisoner of War camp in Germany.
After telling some guards they were going to lose the war, he was sent to work in coal mines 500 metres underground, which he called “Africa” because it was so hot.
He escaped and ended up in Egypt where he worked for intelligence translating German letters.
When Boris returned from the war he was given a flat in Tel Aviv, and one day was standing on the balcony when he saw a beautiful blonde woman walking by.
“She was lovely looking girl. I was standing on the balcony and she was going to work,” Boris said.
His friend happened to know her, but when they met Judy had fallen sick and was no longer able to walk.
Boris taught her to walk again, and they soon married in 1947 amid a very turbulent time in Israel’s history.
When Israel became a nation in 1948 Judy was one of the first to work for the newly formed government, and had to endure constant gunfire aimed at her office building every day.
The couple had a daughter, Gabriella, and they longed for peace so moved to Australia in the 1950s.
After a rocky start to their life in Australia – Judy found out she was pregnant with her second child on the ship coming over – they settled in Guildford and built a house where they lived for more than 50 years.
They have lived in Courtlands Village for seven years, and while they admit marriage is hard, they both agree they have had a good life together.
“Boris will tell you his famous words of advice… yes dear,” Judy said.
“We argue – you’ve got to have someone to argue with – but you never win an argument,” Boris said.
The couple have two daughters, Gabriella and Linda, and one granddaughter Clara.
For their anniversary their family made them a book of photos and mementos from their life together.