July 3, 2020
Survivor Portraits – Margot Tischmann
This month we introduce Margot Tischmann. Margot was born 1933 in Duisburg, Germany, “when things were already bad,” she recalls. It was the year Hitler came to power and the family strongly experienced the rise in anti-semitism.
Margot’s mother left hospital straightaway after giving birth, not wanting to spend any extra time in a German run-institution. Her parents ran a menswear business and were paying rent to a German man. He refused to take rent from them anymore, advising them, ‘You have to leave; you have to get out.’
Margot and her parents were lucky enough to leave Europe on the ship D. Main, arriving in Australia on 6 December 1938. Unfortunately, her father’s family living in Poland all perished. Her mother’s parents died before the war, but three of her sisters and a brother were murdered by the Nazis.
Margot recalls a momentous occasion upon her arrival in Australia. She was four years old at the time and a photographer from The Sydney Morning Herald took a photo of her and another young Jewish girl. They were featured in the newspaper, however, fearing consequences for their remaining relatives back in Germany, her mother and father would not provide their names for publication.
When Margot and her parents arrived in Australia, none of them could speak a word of English. They had no relatives in the country and there was no one at the dock to meet them. Margot remembers going to pre-school and not knowing how to say, ‘I need the toilet.’
Making a living in Australia was difficult. Her parents went from having a big manufacturing business in Germany to her mother cleaning floors to make ends meet. They later managed to do ‘piece work’ in their home in Bondi, making trousers. They also changed their surname from Fuks to Fox, to fit in.
To read more from our Survivor Portraits blog series, click here.
To explore the personal stories and anecdotes of Holocaust survivors, click here for our first online exhibition.
Photograph by Katherine Griffiths.