Martin Weiss will share his heroic story of survival during the Holocaust March 9 in Conway Senior High School’s James H. Clark Auditorium.
"An Evening with Holocaust Survivor Martin Weiss" is sponsored Conway Senior High School, the University of Central Arkansas department of philosophy and religion, UCA department of history, UCA College of liberal arts, University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Weiss was one of nine children born to orthodox Jewish parents in Polana, a rural village in former Czechoslovakia. In March 1939, his life was changed dramatically when Nazi Germany and its allies occupied Polana. Jews were subjected to discriminatory legislation. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union, conditions in Polana worsened. Two of Weiss’ brothers were conscripted into forced labor battalions. The family soon learned that some Jews from the area had been deported to the occupied Ukraine where they were killed by SS units.
In May 1944, Weiss an his family were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. Weiss, his father, brother, and two uncles were selected for forced labor; the other family members were sent to the gas chambers.
Weiss and his father were sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, and then to the sub-camp of Melk, where they were forced to build tunnels into the side of the mountains. His father perished there. Martin was liberated from Gunskirchen, a subcamp of Mauthausen, in May 1945. He returned to Czechoslovakia, where he found some surviving family members. In 1946, they immigrated to the United States.
Event Coordinator Phillip Spivey, UCA lecturer of philosophy and religion, said he hopes people will walk away with an understanding of the historical and moral magnitude of having heard the personal testimony of a Holocaust survivor.
In an interview, Weiss spoke movingly about the lessons learned from his experiences during the Holocaust: "In spite of our bad experiences, we behaved civilly and it puzzles me even today. To understand our behavior, I have to give credit to our parents, who instilled in us the ethics and morals of our ancestors."
For more information about Weiss, visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website: http://www.ushmm.org