Yesterday was an extraordinary day for MIS as we had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Leon Weintraub, a survivor of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and the Concentration Camps Auschwitz-Birkenau, Groß-Rosen, Flossenbürg, and Natzweiler-Struthof. Dr. Weintraub, now at the remarkable age of 97, shared his experiences with Grade 8 and Senior School Students.
At only 13 years old when the war broke out, Dr. Weintraub and his family were sent to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto where he worked in the galvanisation department of a factory that produced for the German Reich instead of attending school. He endured numerous hardships and physical suffering while in the ghetto, including working 12 hours a day whilst never having enough to eat. In August of 1944, the Weintraub family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was separated from his family members.
Dr. Weintraub then spoke to the students about his experiences in the concentration camps, including his escape from "death by gassing" by joining a prisoner transport unnoticed. Near the end of the war, he managed to flee from a train that was destined to drown all passengers in Lake Constance and arrived in Donaueschingen – a place that had been recently occupied by the French – as a "free" man of only 35 kilograms, suffering from typhus.
Despite only having had six years of formal education, Dr. Weintraub enrolled in university in November of 1946 and studied medicine to become a gynaecologist.
During his talk, Dr. Weintraub emphasised to the students the importance of educating oneself and how it helped him personally to understand and think, especially when he endured oppression for so many years. He ended his message by reminding the students that as a doctor, he is able to testify that we are all equal human beings underneath the skin. He enforced his statements by the famous words "Cogito, ergo sum."
After the talk, Dr. Weintraub answered questions from the students, providing them with an unforgettable learning experience.
We sincerely thank the MIS Foundation, through which we were able to provide this unique opportunity for Senior School students to meet Dr. Leon Weintraub to hear his message about continuing to learn from lessons about oppression to ensure a better world.
Here you will find more information about Dr. Weintraub’s experiences, including a link to his published memoir, are available via:
1. Biography of Dr. Weintraub. Maximilian-Kolbe-Werk: https://www.maximilian-kolbe-werk.de/unsere-arbeit/erinnern/dokumentation-von-lebenszeugnissen/dr-leon-weintraub/
2. „Die Versöhnung mit dem Bösen. Geschichte eines Weiterlebens.“ Weintraub, Leon. 2022. Wallstein Verlag: https://www.wallstein-verlag.de/9783835352322-die-versoehnung-mit-dem-boesen.html