Arthur Poznanski

BORN PRASZKA, POLAND, NOVEM­BER 2 7, 1927. DIED LON­DON, AU­GUST 10, 2009, AGED 81.

The Jewish Chronicle - - Obituaries -

MUCH-LOVED AND long-serv­ing choir­mas­ter of Il­ford Syn­a­gogue, Arthur Poznanski was one “the boys” brought to the UK as a Holo­caust camp sur­vivor in Au­gust 1945.

The old­est of three sons, he came from a cul­tured mu­si­cal fam­ily in west­ern Poland. His mother taught vi­o­lin, his aunt sang so­prano. His mother was a teacher in the state-run Jewish school, where his fa­ther was head­mas­ter.

In 1942 his par­ents and youngest brother were de­ported. He and his late brother, Jerzy, were sent to work in the Horten­sja glass fac­tory out­side the Piotrkow ghetto. They were sep­a­rated when sent to other labour camps, Arthur end­ing up at Buchen­wald.

Trans­ferred by cat­tle truck to Mau­thausen, Aus­tria, in the fi­nal weeks of war, he jumped off the train as it drove through the Cze­choslo­vak hills. He was shot in the thigh but saved from worse in­jury by a spoon in his trouser pocket.

He crawled to a vil­lage, where Czech par­ti­sans hid him in a barn dur­ing the search for es­caped pris­on­ers. Lib­er­ated by US forces, he was sent to hospi­tal and then a DP camp, where he heard that Jerzy was in Terezin (There­sien­stadt). He smug­gled him­self into the camp. The broth­ers were among the 732 young sur­vivors flown to Bri­tain.

Arriving in Carlisle, they were taken to Lake Win­der­mere for con­va­les­cence and English lessons. Arthur then moved to hos­tels in Manch­ester and Lon­don, work­ing in fac­to­ries to pay for singing lessons at Trin­ity Col­lege of Mu­sic. He had an ex­quis­ite tenor voice but com­pli­ca­tions of work per­mit and union rules blocked him from tak­ing up the roles he won at au­di­tion.

At 20 he was sacked from a spec­ta­cles fac­tory, when he sang La donna e mo­bile to the noise of ma­chin­ery and did not re­alise he was the only one work­ing. Every­one else had stopped to lis­ten.

He sang in am­a­teur op­er­atic so­ci­eties and en­ter­tained at the Prim­rose Club, cre­ated to give “the boys” a feel­ing of home. Its leader, Berlin-born Yogi Mayer, in­vited him to sing and play gui­tar at the Brady Boys’ Club in the East End, where he met his wife, Renée Ru­dolf. They mar­ried in 1960.

In 1963 a Prim­rose Club friend en­gaged him for a man­age­rial job at his small tex­tile firm. Arthur com­bined this with his singing en­gage­ments.

His in­volve­ment with Il­ford Syn­a­gogue be­gan soon af­ter. He taught and re­hearsed choir and chaz­anim, and com­posed set­tings for psalms and pray­ers.

At his fu­neral, the Can­to­rial Singers group sang his Yizkor com­po­si­tion for the Holo­caust mar­tyrs. Worn-out prayer and scrip­tural books were buried with him as a mark of re­spect.

Kind, con­sci­en­tious and scrupu­lous in busi­ness, he re­ceived a civic award for his tire­less com­mu­nal work, lec­tur­ing on the evils of racism. He was al­ways grate­ful that he sur­vived to cre­ate a fam­ily and pur­sue his love of mu­sic.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Renée; daugh­ter, An­gela; son, Vic­tor; and four grand­chil­dren.

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