A holocaust survivor will speak at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina this week as a part of the school’s Holocaust Remembrance & Genocide Awareness Week.
Activities began Monday evening with a photographic narrative. Tuesday evening the academy award winning documentary “Anne Frank Remembered” will be shown and discussed.
The highlight of the week is a presentation Wednesday evening by holocaust survivor Martin “Marty” Weiss.
According to the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum, Marty lived with his parents and eight brothers and sister in Czechoslovakia when the Nazi Gemany invaded and occupied the country.
Two of Marty’s brothers were conscripted into slave labor battalions and sent to the Russian front.
In April 1944, hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews, including the Weisses, were arrested and deported to the Munkacs Ghetto. They were forced to perform slave labor in a brick factory moving bricks by hand from one side of the factory to the other. Over a two-month period beginning in May 1944, nearly 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Marty and his family. Marty, his brother Moshe, his sister Cilia, their father Jacob, and two uncles were selected for slave labor. The rest of their family was killed upon arrival.
After a brief stay at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Marty and his father, Jacob, were transported to Melk, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. In Melk, the prisoners were forced to carve tunnels into the sides of mountains; Marty’s father died from exhaustion and starvation. As the Allies advanced into Germany in the spring of 1945, Marty and other inmates went on a forced march to Gunskirchen, another sub-camp of Mauthausen, from where he was liberated by the United States Army on May 5th, 1945.
After liberation, Marty returned to Czechoslovakia. There he reunited with his older sister, Cilia, who was liberated by the British at Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 and his oldest brother, Mendl, who had survived the war in a Hungarian labor battalion. After their liberation, Cilia and her husband, Fred, located their sister Ellen who had immigrated to the United States in 1939. Ellen arranged visas for Marty, Cilia, Mendl, and Fred, and they arrived in New York in July 1946. Marty served in the United States Army during the Korean War before entering the grocery business in 1955. In 1957 he married Joan Merlis. They have two children and four grandchildren. Marty and Joan moved to Bethesda, MD in 1995, and Marty has been volunteering at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since 1998.
Marty will tell his story at Kansas Wesleyan University Wednesday evening. The presentation begins at 7:00 in Sams Chapel. A meet and greet session will follow his presentation.
Full Schedule of Holocaust Rembrance Week Events