Read reflections and testimonies written by Holocaust survivors in their own words.

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  • Polana, Czechoslovakia

    My grandfather, Mayer Weiss, lived in Polana before World War I, when the village was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, Czechoslovakia was established and  included the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Karpatska Russ (Carpathian Russ), where we lived.

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 13

  • Democracy Shattered

    We I came to the United States, I was 16 years old, and I went religiously to night school, anxious to learn everything about my new adopted country such as the language, the Bill of Rights, etc. Mrs. Durst, my teacher, was a very nice person and a good teacher. She stressed the greatness of the Constitution and the “Four Freedoms.” As time went on, she suggested I read the New York Times to improve my language skills. By that time, I spoke four languages and was able to read and write in all of them.

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 12

  • Many Times Born, Many Times Died

    All of us have had the experience of being born one time. If you are a Holocaust survivor, like me, you may have been born many times and died many times, as well.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11martin weiss

  • Living Up to Our Values

    When I arrived in the United States after World War II at age 16, I was very anxious to move on with my life and not let my experiences during the Holocaust define me. I got a job in a grocery store and with help from my brother-in-law, I rented a room from a Hungarian family so I could be independent. That helped because I spoke Hungarian. My biggest problem was I did not speak or understand a word of English. So, I enrolled in night school. I was taught English, but also learned about US history and the Constitution. The teacher, Mrs. Durst, was a very nice, elderly lady who stressed how great American democracy is, that we are a country of laws. I knew about democracy because I grew up in Czechoslovakia and I went to Czech schools until the fourth grade. Then the war started and our school was closed.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 11martin weiss

  • Escaping from Evil

    Growing up in a rural area where many people were uneducated, I always thought that in the cities, especially in Western Europe, where people had access to higher education and city life, they would behave in a more civilized way than people where I lived. Growing up in a democratic country like Czechoslovakia, even as a seven- or eight-year-old kid, I felt very proud of our country, because we were treated as citizens. That does not mean that our neighbors who were “Russ” were not antisemitic; they were. However, we did coexist and got along.

    Tags:   echoes of memory, volume 10martin weiss

  • Theodor Herzl: One Man’s Dream

    I recently attended the third annual gala of the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), Washington, DC, chapter. It gave me great pride to see hundreds of people gathered there with the purpose of raising money for the IDF. I could not help thinking back to my childhood in the 1930s in Polana, Czechoslovakia. As Jews, we were content living in a democracy that gave us hope for a bright future. 

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 8

  • A Horse Named Fritz

    Martin Weiss was born in Polana, Czechoslovakia, and survived AuschwitzBirkenau and Mauthausen. He was liberated by US troops at the Gunskirchen camp in Austria 1945.

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Remembering the Forgotten

    For the longest time I have remembered incidents that occurred during the Holocaust, about which very few have heard. This is a story I heard about after I returned from the concentration camp in 1945. Benzion and his family were from Plosk, a small village near Polana. Until 1939, it was known as Karpatska Russ in Czechoslovakia. 

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 7

  • A Letter to My Brother, Moshe

    Dear Moshe,

    I’m writing this letter to you even though I know you will never read it. 

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 7

  • Democracy without Equality

    Since I moved from New Jersey to the Washington, DC, area and was given the opportunity to visit the United States Capitol Rotunda in observance of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), I can’t help getting in touch with my memories and emotions on many levels.

    Tags:   martin weissechoes of memory, volume 7

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