2019-01-22 17:22:57 UTC
Immigrant saw his chance when he was hired to inspect Swedish washers
inside a damaged ocean liner
By James R. Hagerty, Jan. 18, 2019, Wall St. Journal
As a Jewish teenager in what was then eastern Poland, Bernard Milch
survived World War II by blending in with Polish and Ukrainian
peasants. He lost his father, a sister and a brother to the Holocaust.
After the war, he learned mechanics at a displaced-persons camp in
Germany and emigrated to the U.S. He arrived in New York with $8 and
found work as a mechanic.
In 1956, the ocean liner Stockholm collided with the Italian ship
Andrea Doria in dense fog near Nantucket Island. Mr. Milch, hired to
inspect laundry equipment inside the Stockholm, found it still
functioned after a seawater rinse. Impressed by the durability, he
contacted Wascator, the Swedish maker of the washers, and became the
companys North American distributor.
Mr. Milchs company, Wascomat, sold commercial-laundry equipment and
helped spread coin laundries across the U.S. and Canada. He held
seminars to show entrepreneurs, often immigrants, how to set up
laundries. He provided financing for many of them. His company also
supplied laundry equipment to hotels, hospitals and other customers.
Mr. Milch, who spoke six languages, retired in 2007. The business he
founded, now called Laundrylux, is headed by Neal Milch, one of his
sons, and Cody Milch, a grandson.
Bernard Milch died Jan. 6 in New York. He was 93.
Baruch Milch, later known as Bernard or Bernie, was born July 8, 1925,
in Kozova, a small town in what was then eastern Poland and is now
Ukraine. His parents were farmers, beekeepers and merchants.
I thought of myself as a Pole, he said in an oral history recorded
in 1983. After the Nazi invasion of Poland, however, it was his Jewish
identity that mattered most. It wasnt only invaders he had to fear.
Some people who lived in his area began hunting Jews in the fields
like somebody goes out today and hunts rabbits or wild animals, he
said. They used to go out into the fields, club them to deathmen,
women and children.
Many Jews, including members of his family, were forced into ghettos
or went into hiding. Bernard roamed the fields, working as a peasant.
No way could the Germans tell that I was a Jew, he said. I spoke
Ukrainian better than the Ukrainians. I spoke Polish better than the
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, the former Lusia Rosenzweig,
also a Holocaust survivor, as well as their two sons and three
His sons, David and Neal, remember his many proverbs, including:
The streets are paved with gold, if you know where to look.
When you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at
You may be right, but I dont think so.
[ALL COMMENTS 10]
Eddie Sweet, 2 days ago
Nancy Pelosi and Chucky Schumer's immigrants have their hands out for
taxpayers money instead.
John Trottman, 2 days ago
A wonderful human being and a wonderful American.
Daniel Herkes, 2 days ago
Micheal Paul Alanstein, 2 days ago
Mr. Milch found his streets of gold via coin operated washing
machines, hard work and never give up.....
Lee Zehrer, 2 days ago
this immigrant knew six languages Why do I always have to press one
STEVEN FRANKEL, 2 days ago
What a man, what a life; no need for handouts.
Janis Belcher, 2 days ago
Interesting man interesting life; he had a great run.
Bridget Moorman, 3 days ago
I really appreciate these well-written obituaries in the WSJ. One can
learn a lot from the lives of others.
Thomas Behrendt, 3 days ago
There is a sweet side to humans when hugged and pointed at with love.
Julie Alvarez, 3 days ago
There is nasty side to humans when squeezed and pointed at a