Sylvia Weiss (Part IX)

What happened once you arrived in Germany?

We arrived in the city of Ulm where there was a new DP camp. Men and women, married and unmarried, even babies, had to share one large room as their new living quarters. My brother Lipi was offered a job as a night policeman. Most importantly, we were given our own small room in an apartment so that Lipi could sleep during the day in order to work the night shift. As the sister of the policeman I did not have to wait on the long lines for food.

We lived with this new arrangement for close to two years. We waited for a visa to leave; it never came. Someone finally advised us to try to go to America, from where it might be easier to make the journey to Palestine.

How did you get the important documents needed to sail to America?

The DP camp that we were in was near Munich. We were fortunate to be sponsored by Mrs. Irene Geller, the mother of the U.S. army chaplain who liberated me. She sent an affidavit to the consulate in Munich. There were rumors that the Munich consulate was filled with anti-Semites so we decided to go to Frankfurt-am-Main instead, where the consulate was more sympathetic to Jews. We filled out the forms but we were informed that if we had relatives in America the process would go even quicker. My father had mentioned that he had cousins in America but we did not know their names and had no idea where to locate them.

One of my friends, Judy, had arrived in America a year before. One Shabbos at the Young Israel, Judy met an American girl named Tzippi Englard who invited her to come over to meet her family. When Judy mentioned that she came from Beclean, Tzippi’s mother got very excited because she knew that she had cousins in that town. She asked Judy, “Do you know the Aszknazy family?” Judy answered eagerly, that she certainly did know the family but that only two of them had survived the war and were in Germany right now trying to get to America.

A few days later I received a letter in Hungarian from Tzippi’s mother, Helenka Englard, along with two dollars, which was worth four hundred eighty marks in Germany — a huge amount of money then. We immediately took Helenka’s letter to the consulate. Weeks later we were summoned to the quarantine where we were checked for any health problems in order to be allowed to enter America. We remained in the quarantine for three very long weeks. Finally we were given a clean bill of health.

In March of 1948 my brother and I optimistically set sail on the SS Jumper with 900 other hopeful refugees. We watched Germany’s borders disappear from our sight as we headed toward the land of America.

What message can you impart to today’s generation?

I am thankful to Hashem for selecting me to live and for the privilege to share my past with my family and Klal Yisrael. The miracles that accompanied me throughout my life are now reflected in my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who continue the legacy of the Kedoshim who perished under the cruel reign of Hitler, yimach shemo. I hope that my parents are proud of my achievements and are shepping nachas in Shamayim.


Excerpts of this article were taken from a memoir compiled by Mrs. Sylvia Weiss and her daughter Mrs. Shoshana Kruger, called “Selected from Above.”