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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:               HELEN WEINGARTEN 

INTERVIEWERS:        JOHN KENT

                                     RUTH EINSTEIN

LOCATION:                 SANDY SPRINGS, GEORGIA   

DATE:                           JUNE 10, 2011

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY:

Helen Fromowitz Weingarten was born in the small village of Oybochco, Romania in 1924. She was the seventh of nine children born into an observant Jewish family. Helen had finished high school and begun working in 1940 when Hungary, an ally of Nazi Germany, took over the region or Romania where her village was. Life continued relatively unchanged for Helen’s family until Germany invaded Hungary.

In the spring of 1944, Helen’s entire family was confined to a ghetto in Slatina, Czechoslovakia. Soon afterward, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Helen’s parents, two sisters, one brother and various extended family members died. In the fall of 1944, Helen and four sisters were sent to a labor camp in Nuremberg, Germany. After Allied bombing destroyed the camp, they were sent to another camp in Melthauer, Germany. A month later, on April 16, 1945, the Americans liberated Helen and her sisters.

After the war, Helen and her four surviving sisters were reunited with a brother who had also survived. The five siblings settled in a Bavarian town called Rehau. Within a few years, they had all immigrated to the United States. In the meantime, Helen had married another survivor, Isak Weingarten and had a son. In 1949, Helen, Isak and their son immigrated to the United States and joined family in Loraine, Ohio. A daughter was born a few years later.

In the 1980’s, Helen and Isak retired to Florida. After Isak’s death, Helen moved to Atlanta, Georgia to be near her daughter and daughter’s family. In Atlanta, Helen actively shared her experience with area school children and organizations.

Scope of Interview:

Helen introduces her family and the region of Romania where she grew up. She recounts interactions with non-Jews growing up. Helen describes how her family was forced into a ghetto and then deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She explains how she immigrated to the United States after liberation. Helen recounts how dramatically life changed as World War II began. She details the journey to, arrival in, and experiences of daily life in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Helen recalls Nuremberg and Melthauer—the camps where she and four of her sisters were sent as slave laborers at the end of the war. She recollects liberation. Helen reflects on what religion meant to her during and after the war. She shares how she met her husband and came to the Untied States. Helen talks about adjusting to a new life, raising her children, and then moving to be near her children after retirement. She offers her thoughts on Germany, Hungary and Israel as well as why it is important to her to share her story.

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