Michael Weiss

"Please do not forget the 1.5 million children, the 6 million martyrs who were murdered because they were Jewish.  This was the greatest tragedy known to mankind.   “Zachor, Al Tishtach,” Remember, do not forget! (in Hebrew). "

Name at birth
Miklos Weisz
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Mezo Kaszony, Czechoslovakia
Name of father, occupation
Adoldh Weisz, Tailor
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Hermina Herskovics, Homemaker
How many in entire extended family?
Who survived the Holocaust?
Just me and two cousins
In the middle of March, 1944, the German army crossed the border of Hungary under the leadership of SS General Eichmann for the purpose of making Hungary, “Judenrein,” free of Jews.  Two weeks later, the last day of Passover, a law came out that each Jew had to leave their home to go to a designated building in the Ghetto.  The Jews from my city, my country, were taken to the city of Bereho where they established the Ghetto.  
There they housed us in a brick factory.  That factory had 20-25 long barracks. Those barracks did not have any doors, windows, or sides.  Only a few poles held up the roofs because those barracks were built to dry bricks.  But in the spring of 1944, it became the home, the Ghetto for 18,000 homeless Jews from the surrounding communities.  The condition in the Ghetto was very inhumane, very cruel.  We slept on the floor; it was raining in, it was snowing in on us.  It was very cold and many died in the six weeks we were in that Ghetto.  If they would treat animals like we were treated, they would be in jail.  
Then three days before Shavuos, they packed us in cattle cars, 70-80 to a cattle car.  They didn’t count; they pushed us in like sardines, locked and then sealed the doors.  We were traveling three days and three nights, no food and no water were given to us and there were no toilet facilities either.  
After three days, the train stopped.  We came down the train.  We tried to stay together with our families so we should not lose each other.  But I never got to say goodbye to my parents.  We went through the gates of Auschwitz.  There stood a line of German officers, nicely dressed, some of them had dogs.  They looked at you.  The young and the old they sent to the right.  They knew whomever they sent to the right, in hours, would be dead; they would go the gas chambers.  They were acting like God, who should live and who should die.  
Those of us who were sent to the left, I remember coming in front of a long shiny black building.  By the door, they were telling us, whatever you have in your hands, put it down on the floor and undress, and then we all took showers.  At the other end of the building, they handed us a one pair of pants, one shirt, a cap, a pair of shoes with wooden soles.   From the distance, we could see the gas chambers, the crematoria, the chimneys smoking, and we smelled the stench of burning flesh.  
After Auschwitz, we were taken to Buchenwald where there were mostly Jews.  We were then taken to Zeitz, to build a factory to make gasoline out of coal.  We would see planes with American stars bombing the factory.  If they bombed it 4 times, then we would rebuild the factory 4 times.  That factory never made a gallon of gasoline.
In May 1945, soldiers with tanks and guns came, we thought they were going to level the camp, but it was the American army that came to liberate us.  We didn’t know who they were, it took weeks to really believe we were free.  We went back to our home towns, we hoped our families were alive.  My mother would have been 44, my father 49, I thought they were alive.  We heard rumors about Auschwitz.  My parents never came home.  In my hometown, our neighbors didn’t want us there.  We had left our shops, and homes, they were afraid that we the survivors would ask for it back.  Where did we have to go, we were orphans.  I wanted to Israel.  I went to the consulate in Vienna.
I met my first wife and we were married in Austria.  My wife had relatives in W. Virginia and so we moved there in 1948. 
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Occupation after the war
Dry Cleaner
Lilly Berkovics (deceased); Lilly Weiss
Arthur, attorney Mark, rabbi
Eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren
What do you think helped you to survive?
Germans tried to take Jews further into Germany as they were losing the war. We were in our barracks, every few days they would select 1000 people that they would take into Germany, a death march. I saw an older Jewish man who was supposed to go. He said if they want shoot me, they can come here and shoot me, that he had no strength to go. I thought to myself, he was right. I stayed with that man for three days. We were then liberated, heard, “Jews get out, you’re free.” I don’t know if that man was an angel or was sent from G-d. I looked for him but couldn’t find him, I never saw him again.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Please do not forget the 1.5 million children, the 6 million martyrs who were murdered because they were Jewish.  This was the greatest tragedy known to mankind.  
Zachor, Al Tishtach,” Remember, do not forget! (in Hebrew). 
Charles Silow
Interview date:
To learn more about this survivor, please visit:
The Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, University of Michigan

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