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Studio portrait of Dragutin and Blanka Buchler on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 70257

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    Studio portrait of Dragutin and Blanka Buchler on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary.
    Studio portrait of Dragutin and Blanka Buchler on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary.


    Studio portrait of Dragutin and Blanka Buchler on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary.
    Zagreb, [Croatia] Yugoslavia
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Dina Chen

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Dina Chen

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Dina Chen (born Dina Buchler) is the daughter of Dragutin (Yakir) Buchler (b. 1.1.1907) and Blanka Brodaric (b. Dec. 7, 1912), both from Zagreb. Dragutin was a successful lawyer. They were married in 1936, and Dina was born on April 28, 1940. On April 5, 1941, Dina's father was arrested in a round-up of lawyers. Blanka Dina went to stay with her grandfather, but this was short lived. He and with other male relatives were sent first to Pag and then the Jasenovac concentration camp. Dina's father was murdered on October 8, 1941 by the Germans in a reprisal for a resistance action. Dina, together with her mother and grandmother Elza Brodaric, were deported to Pag, Krusticiza, and Loborgrad concentration camps. Blanka feared that Dina, who was still an infant, would not survive the horrific conditions and typhus epidemics in the camps. She persuaded an ethnic German to smuggle her out. He placed the baby in a pillow case and carried her out under his coat. Blanka Buchler and her mother Elza Brodaric were deported to Auschwitz and murdered in October 1942.

    The ethnic German brought Dina to the headquarters of Jewish community in Zagreb with a note stating the baby's name, birth date, names of remaining cousins in Zagreb, as well as the name of her pediatrician. Dina's cousin, Blanka Zitzer agreed to accept her. Blanka had recently married Vladimir First and was living on Aryan papers. Vladimir and Blanka were together for only six weeks before he was deported. He survived most of the war only to be put in a barrack and burnt to death on April 25, 1945.

    Blanka saw how malnourished Dina was and undertook to nourish her. However, as a Communist, she wanted to join the partisans and needed to find someone else to shelter Dina. She found a convent that would take her for the short term, but the nuns realized that a toddler would not fit with the other children could endanger them. They therefore bought Dina to Anica Belitz who was paid a monthly stipend to care for her. Blanka then joined the partisans entrusting neighbors to keep an occasional eye on Dina. On one of their visits, the neighbors discovered that the baby was left alone in an attic and was in very bad shape. They fabricated a story that they were taking her to see a doctor, but they never brought her back. Instead Blanka sent Dina to live with Gina Beretics, an older woman with two grown children. However, the Jewish community continued to pay Anica her monthly stipend so she would not go to the authorities. Gina's husband was a ship captain and was away most of the time. They had lived in Dubrovnik, but since he was away Gina joined her two children in Zagreb where they were studying at the university. Her daughter was 23 and studied art history, while her son, 22 studied medicine. Dina lived with the Beretics for 2 and a half years. The family gave her a real home and had her baptized using the name Maja. However, Dina almost never went outside since she was constantly in danger.

    At the end of the war, Blanka suddenly returned without any warning and took back Dina. At first this was quite traumatic since Dina viewed the Beretics as her new parents and considered herself a Christian. Blanka told Dina she was Jewish and revealed her real name. Blanka and Dina then lived with Blanka's aunt, Paula Sitzer (b. 1891, Zagreb), who was an opera singer. For the first time, Dina attended kindergarten and made childhood friends. Dina remained in Yugoslavia with Blanka and Paula until December 1948 when they all immigrated to Israel.
    Record last modified:
    2011-12-12 00:00:00
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