Mina Fink (née Waks), MBE, a driving force behind the establishment of Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC), was born in Bialystok, Poland and educated at the Druskin Gymnasium. Shortly after matriculating in 1932 she married Leo Fink. The couple migrated to Australia, settling in Melbourne. Having mercifully escaped the Holocaust, Mina considered herself to be a survivor, and committed herself, together with her husband, Leo, to help the many Holocaust survivors who came to Australia to rebuild their lives. Both became active during the Second World War in the creation and organisation of the United Jewish Overseas Relief Fund, later assuming leading roles in the Jewish Welfare Society, and negotiating with migration and refugee resettlement agencies such as the HIAS and the JOINT to assist the survivors.
Mina would meet the immigrants’ ships at Melbourne’s Station Pier and do whatever was possible to assist the new arrivals, especially the children and orphans, helping them to settle into the local Jewish community. Among the younger arrivals was a group of war orphans known as the ‘Buchenwald Boys’, for whom she became a surrogate mother.
Involvement in the establishment of the JHC was essentially an extension of Mina’s work with survivors of the Holocaust. With the ageing of the survivors, she perceived the increasing need for a Centre to serve as an educational institution which would keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. Not only was she a member of the founding organising committee; together with her husband, she established the Leo and Mina Fink Fund which facilitated the purchase of the Centre’s building.
Mina was indefatigable, involved in setting up the Centre’s administrative structure and serving on the Board. Her particular interest was the educational program and the training of Holocaust survivors as guides.