Holocaust survivor Sam Weinreb dies at 94 | TribLIVE.com – TribLIVE

Posted By on January 18, 2021

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Sam Weinreb, a Holocaust survivor who raised his family in McKeesport, passed away peacefully Friday at Hebrew Senior Life Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale, Mass. He was 94.

While he was only in his mid-teens, Weinreb somehow managed to live through some of the worst mental and physical abuse the Nazis were capable of dishing out.

Born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1926, to parents David and Freida Weinreb, Sams immediate family was murdered during the Holocaust. Just before his 13th birthday he was returning home from a bar mitzvah lesson when he found the doors locked and his family gone.

Weinreb narrowly missed the round-up of the Jews in Bratislava during which 15,000 Jews were expelled or sent to concentration camps.

He ended up escaping to Hungary where he spent the next six months living outdoors on the streets of Budapest. Most days the only food he could find was in garbage cans behind restaurants.

Can you just imagine what it is like to be only 13-years-old and not having a home to go to, not knowing where you would sleep each night, not knowing where you would get your food each day, not being able to speak the language of the country you are in, and being in constant fear? Weinreb told the Holocaust Testimony Project.

Deciding he could no longer go on living in the streets, Weinreb turned himself in to the Hungarian police. He was sent to prison where he spent the next two years before the Germans entered Hungary.

Then he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where anyone who couldnt keep up with the brutal work load was shot or killed in the gas chambers.

When the war ended Weinreb reconnected with his childhood sweetheart, Gloria Goldie Berger, another Holocaust survivor. They married and moved to the United States settling in McKeesport where they raised a family.

Weinreb made his living as a watchmaker and jeweler. But he dedicated much of his life to speaking at schools, universities, religious organizations and other groups about the horrors he experienced living through the Holocaust. He enjoyed speaking to young students the most.

His story was compelling and graphic, but he told it in such a matter-of-fact way that every single eighth-grader was able to hold on to the content and message, said Scott Vensel a teacher at Dorseyville Middle School in Indiana Township. He was so gentle, calm, and endearing in terms of talking with the kids afterward.

In the end, he wanted the students to hear his story, and think about their future. He was a treasure to humanity, and felt it was his duty to share his experience with the next generation.

Lauren Bairnsfather, executive director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, said Weinreb learned the importance of forgiveness.

He said, If you hold on to anger, then you are harming yourself.

Those who knew him said he will be remembered for his deep devotion to his family and his love for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers.

Weinreb is survived by his two children, Stewart and Linda, and his granddaughter, Hannah.

Memorial donations may be made to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024. (https://donate.ushmm.org)

Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or pguggenheimer@triblive.com.

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