In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27th--the date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau--as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops of the largest Nazi death camp, on January 27, 1945.
Werner Weinberg (1915-1997), a former faculty member at Cincinnati’s HUC-JIR Campus, was born on May 30, 1915 in Rheda, Germany. Werner graduated from the Jewish Teachers Seminary in Wurzburg in 1936 and accepted a position in Hanover at a Jewish elementary school and commuted on weekends to Rheda. Werner married Lisl Halberstadt in December 1938, a fellow student at the Wurzberg seminary and teacher in Hanover. He served as a rabbi in Rheda until Kristallnacht, also known as “The Night Of Broken Glass”, a series of anti-Semitic riots that took place in Nazi occupied Europe on November 9th and 10th, 1938.
Werner and Lisl were able to escape Germany and were admitted to Holland in spring of 1939. In November 1942 their first daughter, Hannah died from illness. Enduring increased persecution from the advancement of the Nazis, Werner and Lisl decided to hide their younger daughter, Susie, with a Christian family. Werner and Lisl were both apprehended and sent to the Dutch camp Westerbrok on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, 1943. In January, they were moved to Bergen Belsen concentration camp. They both survived and were reunited after the war. The two returned to Apeldoorn in July of 1945 and found Susie alive and well. Three years after the end of the war, in 1948, the family moved to America. Weinberg’s extraordinary survival narrative has been chronicled several times, including his own book titled Self-Portrait of a Holocaust Survivor.
The museum collection houses several items given by Werner Weinberg, one of which is the Jood badge he was made to wear while in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Jood is the Dutch word for Jew and all Jews in the Netherlands were forced to wear badges on their outside clothing starting on April 29th, 1942.