In 1961, Josef Ganz moved into a small apartment in Edgewater Towers, Melbourne’s first large scale modernist apartment block, right next to the beach in the suburb of St. Kilda. On Saturday, July 25th, the building will be open to the public as part of Open House Melbourne.
Edgewater Towers was designed by the Ottoman born Jewish architect Mordechai Benshemesh (1911-1993). He and his wife Herma befriended Josef Ganz in the 1950s. When Mordechai designed Edgewater Towers, the developer did not pay him in cash, but gave him title to several apartments. One of these was rented by Josef Ganz and his girlfriend Heta Jacobson.
A few years later, when the Benshemeshs needed the money, they sold all of the apartments except the one Josef and Heta lived in. Mordechai and Herma Benshemesh were aware of Josef Ganz’s difficult financial situation and did not want him to have to find somewhere else to live. Thanks to this act of kindness, Josef Ganz was able to stay in Edgewater Towers until his death on July 26, 1967.
Herma Benshemesh remembered Josef Ganz as a gentle, kind and cultured man. He told her his story about the Volkswagen development back in Germany i the 1920s and 1930s, which she initially found hard to believe. She remebered that Josef Ganz was fearful that someone was going to come after him, because of his work in Germany. Unfortunately Herma Benshemesh passed away in March 2014.