Holocaust survivor shares experiences with area students

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – For the ninth year in a row, Black River Technical College in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had Holocaust survivor, Martin Weiss, come and speak.

He talked about his family being deported from Hungary to Auschwitz. Weiss, his brother, sister, father and two uncles were all selected for slave labor. The rest of his family were killed upon arrival.

"I never talked about to anybody," said Weiss.  "In fact, I had a sister who was in camp with our sisters who died, and my father died where I was and we never spoke about it."

For 56 years after WWII ended, Weiss never once opened up about his experiences in Auschwitz and Mauthausen. The memories were too painful and he decided to put it behind him.

"I came to the United States very simply, I was 16-years-old at the time, and I just took a curtain and closed it on Europe," said Weiss. "I just concentrated on learning English and to become an American."

After he moved to the United States, Weiss joined the army and fought in the Korean War. He got married, raised a family and made something of himself here in America. His story has impacted many who have heard it.

"One man said he didn't know what he was going to do with his life, and after I spoke he said he wanted to become a minister," said Weiss.

Weiss reminisced on one of his presentations that took place at a Catholic private school. The school had a program that focused on the Holocaust. It was one of his first presentations, but one he'll remember forever.

"One of the kids said after he took this program, It made him a better Catholic," said Weiss.

As the survivor generation continues to become less and less, Weiss said he hopes their story will live on in the lives of those who have listened.

"My aim is that they should become better citizens or better people," said Weiss.  "That's what this is really all about."

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