Henri Kichka, 94, Belgian Holocaust Survivor
Henri Kichka, one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors from Belgium, died April 25 from the coronavirus.
On Facebook, his son Michel, a noted cartoonist, said of his father that “a small microscopic coronavirus succeeded where the entire Nazi army had failed. My father had survived the Death March. But today he ended his March of Life.”
It was remarkable the number of camps he survived: Camp d’Agde, Camp de Rivesaltes, Sakrau, Klein Mangersdorf, Tarnowitz-Nord, Sankt Annaberg, Kattowiz-Schoppinitz, Blechhammer, Gross-Rosen, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald. He was liberated a few days before his 19th birthday.
In 2005 he wrote a memoir that the Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld wrote the preface to. It was called “An Adolescence Lost in the Night of the Camps.” Published in French, it was also translated into Polish.
His parents were born in Poland. Kichka fled with his family to southern France after the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, but they were in turn deported back to Brussels, according to the Jerusalem Post.
According to a BBC obituary, Henri and his father worked as slave laborers, while Henri’s mother and his sisters as well as his aunt were deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered immediately.
Henri later contracted tuberculosis and entered an orphanage.
Kichka did not speak about his experience for years. It was around the 1980s that he began to speak before school groups and others about what he had experienced. “I knew that I had to tell it,” said Kichka on a video interview by the BBC.
In 1949, he married Lucia Swierczynski. He is survived by two children as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.