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Interview with Talia Fuchs - Granddaughter of Austrian Holocaust Survivor Kurt Fuchs

In advance of our screening of 'The World's Best Film' at the Austria International Film Festival I wanted to pay tribute to the special man that is Austrian Holocaust Survivor Kurt Fuchs. Below is an interview I conducted with Kurt's granddaughter over a year ago. I kept this story quiet on social media for the last year out of respect for the family and knew that I wanted to post it after the film had had been released. Well now that we are about to screen (online) in Kurt's former homeland I felt it was a fitting time. Thank you to Talia Fuchs for being part of this film and for her time below <3

1. What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Talia Fuchs. I am a doctor and am in my final year of training to become an Anatomical Pathologist.

2. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Sydney, Australia.

3. What was life like when you were a kid? Can you tell us your earliest memory of Opa (Kurt Fuchs)?

Kurt Fuchs and family

Life as a kid was pretty good. I am the oldest of three children and was born when my mum was 21 and studying architecture at university. It was a really busy time for my parents, who both worked extremely hard to create an amazing life for our family. We were so fortunate to have had the most incredible grandfather (Opa) to help raise us. I have so many memories of Opa during these years. From as early as I can remember, he was always present. He was like a third parent for my siblings and me. I remember him babysitting us when my parents were out, and spending hours on end doing various activities, ranging from Play-Doh to drawing to paper chain making. His patience for any activity we wanted to do was endless and he was incredibly talented. The first birthday presents I remember were the doll’s houses that Opa made for my sister and me, and the rocking horse he made for my brother.

4. Did you know you always wanted to be a doctor? How long have you been doing this?

When did you decide you first wanted to be a doctor?

I don’t really remember when I first decided I wanted to be a doctor but it wasn’t something I always wanted to do. When I was really little, I think I wanted to be an artist! As I grew up, I realised that I didn’t mind the sight of blood and that my grades were good enough to get into Medicine at uni – probably not good enough reasons to base one’s career choice on, but here we are. I graduated in 2014 and did my internship in 2015, which I absolutely hated. If I didn’t get onto the Anatomical Pathology training program, I was planning on changing careers. So I think things worked out for the best.

5. What did your grandpa want for you as a kid?

Kurt and Peter Fuchs with Daughter Talia Fuchs

Opa was extremely supportive of all of my endeavours my whole life. He had a brilliant mind and tragically never had the opportunity to study after having to leave school when he was only thirteen. However, he always placed enormous importance on our education. He wanted us all to be successful in whatever careers we chose to pursue. When I decided to become a doctor, he told me about famous Austrian doctors he had researched and about new medical research coming out of Israel. Seeing how proud he was when I graduated will always be the highlight of my career.

7. Do you have a fun story about Opa?

I have so many fun stories about Opa! He was a joker his whole life. My best friend has a big nose ring through his septum. One night he was over for dinner and while at the dinner table, Opa asked him what happens with the piercing when he’s in an “amorous situation”. I think that was the hardest we all laughed in a very long time.

Here’s a photo of Opa blowing out his candle with his nose on his 89th birthday.

8. Was it easy or awful to work with Joshua ? :D

Working with Josh was always easy. I have known Josh for several years as a friend, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how professional he could be! He also got along very well with my family and shares our sense of humour, which made it a really fun experience.

9. What is important to you as the descendant of your grandfather?

Opa was one of the most important adult figures in my life and losing him has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. For me, the most important thing is that his legacy lives on. He had such a profound impact on everyone who knew him. His passing has left a huge hole in my family’s life that will never be filled. All I wish for is that we continue to speak about him and remember his story and those of the millions of others whose lives were affected by the holocaust. However, the most important part of Opa’s story for me was not that he went through such immense hardship, but that he came through it and established a wonderful life for himself and his family in spite of it. As his granddaughter, I hope to live my life in a way that would make him proud.

10. Do you have a website that fans can check out or a charity they could support?

The Australian Institute of Holocaust Studies conducted an interview with Kurt Fuchs (Opa) for the Twelfth Hour Project in 1990. It can be accessed here:

Jewish Care is a not-for-profit organisation that helps support vulnerable members of the Jewish community. Opa spent a lot of time at Club 50, which is part of the Jewish Care network that provides social support for holocaust survivors in Sydney. Any donation to Jewish Care would be greatly appreciated.

11. If you were ‘the world’s best’ at anything what would it be?

I would be the world’s best English proof-reader.

12. Anything else you want to tell us?

I want to thank Josh for including Opa in this beautiful film. When Opa started filming with Josh, none of us could have predicted the tragic events that were about to unfold. It has been an extremely difficult year for my family and I, but this film helps remind us of the happy times we spent with Opa. I am so glad that we get to share this with the world and I know Opa would have been too.

Joshua Belinfante and Joshua Marks of Doco Tv interview Kurt Fuchs in his final interview

The World's Best Film is screening at 'Sofia Biting Docs' on November 27th and at the Austria International Film Festival from 27th-29th November 2020. The film is dedicated to the memory of Kurt Fuchs.

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