Miracles Amidst the Horrendous Holocaust

Cameron Stewart in The Australian, 24 August 2022, where the title reads “Holocaust Twin Phillip Maisel leaves behind a life of miracles,” .… with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

Just weeks ago, after he turned 100 with his twin sister Bella, holocaust survivor Phillip Maisel shared his secret of his miraculous life: “Just be positive,’ he said with a grin. “Always be positive.”




Phillip Maisel and his twin sister Bella enjoy freedom on motor bike in 1945. Aaron Francis / The Australian

Now it‘s Australia’s turn to be positive and grateful for the priceless contribution Maisel gave to his adopted country after he passed away in Melbourne this week.

Earlier this month, as he and Bella celebrated their 100th birthday, Phillip told the Australian the extraordinary story of how both he and his sister survived the Holocaust in separate camps, without knowing the other had survived.

Phillip Maisel and his twin sister Bella in 1945. Aaron Francis / The Australian

But it was when he and Bella migrated to Australia after the war that Phillip made his lasting contribution to his new home.

At the age of 70, Phillip chose to devote four days a week for the next 29 years to recording the testimonies of Holocaust survivors at Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre.

It was the culmination of a promise that he and two other concentration camp prisoners made amongst themselves during the war that if they survived they would help tell the world what jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

READ MORE: Humanity the essence of Holocaust survivor’s stories|Holocaust twins prove miracles do happen

He recorded more than 1400 of them, a contribution that the Holocaust Centre said made him “a central figure in preserving the voices of the Holocaust for future generations.”

Holocaust Museum CEO Jayne Josem said “Those of us who worked with Phillip feel privileged to have had him as a colleague; to some, he became a friend, and to all, he was a quiet and determined inspiration.”

Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said: “Phillip Maisel will long be remembered with gratitude by the Jewish and wider community. With calm determination and commitment, he generously shared his life experiences, helping to educate generations about the horrors of Nazism and the devastation of the Holocaust. He taught that we must never forget where hatred can lead, and the importance of treating all others with respect and dignity.”

Phillip Maisel and his twin sister Bella in 1945. Aaron Francis / The Australian

Despite documenting so many heartbreaking stories from survivors in Melbourne, Phillip says he comforted himself with the knowledge that they survived, unlike to many others.

“When I would come home (from recording) I would often think about it and feel the pain of the person,‘’ he said. “But there was one very important thing that made me feel better – they survived. That was a very positive thing.’

Phillip wrote a memoir last year called The Keeper of Miracles, chronicling his remarkable life.

It tells of his unlikely reunion with his sisters Bella after the two of them had been separated during the war and placed into different concentration camps.

After the war ended, Phillip found himself stranded in Germany with no idea if Bella or others in his family had survived.

But he heard about a girl in a displaced persons camp who had a similar accent to himself and so he rode his motorcycle across Germany on the unlikely chance that the girl was his lost twin sister. It was.

Bella, who had assumed Phillip was dead, says she was dumbstruck when her twin brother suddenly appeared in front of her.

“I couldn’t believe it. We looked at each other and we couldn’t talk. I was just so incredibly happy,” she says.

Phillip said that for he and Bella to have both survived the Nazi and forged a new and happy life in Australia was to have lived a life that was truly blessed by ‘miracles”.

Cameron Stewart is an Associate Editor at The Australian, combining investigative reporting on foreign affairs, defence and national security with feature writing for the Weekend Australian Magazine. He was pre… 



Fiona Harari: “Profound Testimonies: Aged Holocaust Survivors in Their Last Testaments,” 27 January 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/01/27/profound-testimonies-aged-holocaust-survivors-in-their-last-testament/

  Zygmunt Swisrak:  “Overcoming Hate: A Lesson for Tamils and Sinhalese from A Holocaust Survivor,” 28 January 2018, …………………………………………………. https://thuppahis.com/2018/01/28/overcoming-hate-a-lesson-for-tamils-and-sinhalese-from-a-holocaust-survivor/

https://mhm.org.au/ …. the Melbourne Holocaust Museum

https://www.ushmm.org/ …. US HolocaustMemoriam Musuem


Holocaust Tales in Thuppahi

PLUS ………………… Roughly Comparative Motifs

Michael RobertsAnguish as Empowerment …and A Path to Retribution,” 22 March 2017, https://thuppahis.com/?p=24595&preview=trueWalia

Michael RobertsKill Any Sikh: The   Anti-Sikh Pogrom of 1981 in Delhi in Bilawan Singh’s Images,” 26 March 2017, https://thuppahis.com/2017/03/26/kill-any-sikh-the-anti-sikh-pogrom-of-1984-in-delhi-in-bhawan-singhs-images/


A Hindy Mob hunting Muslims at Bhagalpur in India in late October 1989 …. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Bhagalpur_violence#:~:text=The%20Bhagalpur%20riots%20of%201989,and%20250%20villages%20around%20it.

Michael RobertsThe Agony and Ecstasy of a Pogrom: Southern Lanka, July 1983,” Nēthra, April-Sept 2003, 6: 199-213 …….

….. A violent mob at Borella Junction in Colombo 23/24 July 1983  … Pix by Chandragupta Amarasinghe


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One response to “Miracles Amidst the Horrendous Holocaust

  1. Chandra Maliyadde

    Very Rare Great Piece

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