Holocaust survivor learns about his family through research | SteamboatToday.com

Holocaust survivor learns about his family through research

Steamboat Springs resident Ernie Weiss will read passages from his book "Out of Vienna: Eight Years of Flight from the Nazis" at 6 p.m. Monday at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Matt Stensland

If you go

What: Book reading and signing by Ernie Weiss, author of "Out of Vienna: Eight Years of Flight from the Nazis "

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library

Other: Visit http://www.steamboatpilo... to watch Weiss read a passage from his book

— When Ernie Weiss’ parents died in the early 1980s, he was left with the task of clearing out their belongings. Searching through their attic, Weiss stumbled across a treasure trove of photographs from his family’s most trying time – an escape from Nazi-controlled Austria at the end of World War II. The discovery helped him rediscover his family and their tumultuous past.

“I’ve known all the history, but I’ve never really discussed this with my father,” said Weiss, a part-time Steamboat Springs resident for the past 13 years. “I never asked him, and he never talked about it voluntarily.”

In August 2008, after writing for seven years, Weiss published a book about 28 members of his family and their eight-year escape from the Nazis.

At 6 p.m. Monday, Weiss will read passages from his book and sign copies during an appearance at Bud Werner Memorial Library sponsored by Epilogue Book Co.

Weiss was born in Vienna in 1931, and by 1938, his family was being persecuted by the Nazis, who had annexed Austria. His father was imprisoned at Dachau Concentration Camp, and after Weiss’ mother secured her husband’s release, the family was given 48 hours to leave the country.

Thus began eight years of traveling through 13 European countries before the family landed in Cuba. There, Weiss attended school before entering the United States at age 16.

To compile the book, Weiss used family history documents including passports and travel documents, along with interviews with two family members still living in Europe.

Of the 28 family members profiled in Weiss’ book, eight were murdered and one committed suicide before the family settled in Massachusetts. Only four, including Weiss and his brother, are still alive.

He said the writing process for his self-published book was guided by a writing lecture given by Ayn Rand and by books Weiss read at the library. He also received documents and photos from other family members that allowed him to get to know relatives long deceased.

“By writing this book, I came to know my grandparents,” he said, even though his grandparents died when Weiss was 10. “I now have a relationship with my grandfather.”

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