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King University News :: Holocaust Survivor Martin Weiss to Share his Story at King University and Emory & Henry College Feb. 16

BRISTOL, Tenn., Feb. 9, 2015 – Holocaust survivor Martin Weiss will share his story on Monday, Feb. 16 at King University’s Memorial Chapel in Bristol, Tenn., at 9:15 a.m., and again that evening at 7 p.m., at Emory Henry College’s Van Dyke Commons in the Board of Visitors Lounge in Emory, Va. The event is part of the Buechner (Beek-ner) Institute’s 2014-15 Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by Virginia Highlands Community College, Emory Henry College, and the Bristol Herald Courier.

Each year King University joins with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in honoring and remembering the victims of the Holocaust by inviting a survivor to speak. “From the first year of the Buechner Institute’s programming, we have partnered with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” says Shannon Harris, coordinator of the Buechner Institute and chair of the Department of History at King, “bringing survivors to this area to give their unique testimonies. We value the Museum’s mission to cultivate a sense of moral responsibility among our citizens so they can be positive agents when responding to the world’s deep needs.”

This long standing program seeks to promote the cause of human dignity around the world and educate present and future generations in the agendas of peace. “Survivor stories are so important to hear, for they remind us that, in the words of William Faulkner, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ In a world racked by continuing violence and threats of genocide, when Holocaust deniers can gain traction on the internet, it is important to be reminded of the realities of history. A history that continues to shape not just survivors, but you, me, this nation, and the world,” states Harris.

Martin Weiss was born in Jan. 1929 in Polana, Czechoslovakia to Orthodox Jewish parents Jacob and Golda Weiss. He was one of nine children. When Nazi Germany and its allies dismantled Czechoslovakia in 1939, Weiss’ life changed dramatically. Two brothers were conscripted into slave labor battalions and sent to the Russian front.

In April 1944, Weiss and his remaining family were transported to the Munkacs Ghetto, then moved to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in May 1944, where Marty, his brother Moshe, his sister Cilia, their father Jacob, and two uncles were selected for slave labor. The rest of their family was killed upon arrival. After a brief stay at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Martin and his father were sent to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where his father would die from exhaustion and starvation. Weiss was liberated in May 5, 1945.

Martin Weiss arrived in New York in 1946, after his sister Ellen, who had immigrated to the United States in 1939, arranged U.S. visas for him, brother Mendl, sister Cilia, and her husband Fred.

Weiss served in the United States Army during the Korean War before entering the grocery business in 1955. In 1957, he married Joan Merlis. They have two children and four grandchildren. He has been volunteering at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since 1998.

Martin Weiss will share his experiences as a Holocaust survivor on Monday, Feb. 16 at 9:15 a.m. in King University’s Memorial Chapel on the main campus in Bristol, Tenn., and at 7 p.m. at Emory Henry College’s Van Dyke Commons in the Board of Visitors Lounge in Emory, Va. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Shannon Harris, coordinator of the Buechner Institute, at, 423-652-4836, or visit


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