Spared for a purpose

Reichman, Mara


The music lives on.


Born into a loving and cultured family of great musical talent, Mara′s life changed forever when Kishinev was bombed in June 1941. With her father gone, Mara, her mother and three siblings made nightmare journeys to several camps in the infamous geographic invention of Transnistria, north of Romania. Herded together into a building that was deliberately bombed, Mara, age 12, was the only survivor, later emerging from a coma in the Russian city of Rostov, thousands of miles away, with no memory of how she got there.

A fortuitous meeting with a family friend gave her support during her journey to Tashkent, where she joined a loving family of Romanian refugees. She recounts with great pathos their deaths, how she saved the youngest child, and the moment when she lay down in a field, alone in the world and prepared to die. Life, however, had more challenges for this extraordinarily brave and stoic little girl.

Forced into marriage, Mara suffered hideous deprivation and cruelty, even giving birth to her first child in a cow shed. She arrived in Australia with her husband and children, determined to overcome every obstacle – and there were plenty – in order to restore her children to the kind of life she should have enjoyed. She has been rewarded. Her eldest daughter, Shirley, studied dance under the best teachers in Melbourne and was a regular in television′s iconic show, Commotion. Her younger daughter, Rita, whom she had taught to play piano, was a musical prodigy and is now recognised as a world-class pianist. Her son, David Reichman, became a stellar violinist and conductor. He was a protege of Leonard Bernstein and founded the Debut Orchestra in Philadelphia.

Mara Reichman has faced more anguish than most people can even imagine, but she has held fast, convinced she was saved for a real purpose.