Abraham 'Abby' Weiner
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Abraham 'Abby' Weiner

Abby Weiner Born: December 22, 1929, Romania
Deported: May 1944
Liberated: April 11, 1945
Immigrated to America: 1948

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Abraham "Abby" Weiner, was born December 22, 1929, the only son of Chaim and Gisela “Gitel” (Lebowicz) Weiner, from Sziget (Sighet), Translyvania, Romania.  His father, a veteran of the First World War, worked in leather and sold to area peasants and maintained a small tannery in the home; Gitel was a housewife.  Chaim was from Sziget, Gitel was from a small town near Borszav. They lived on the main street in Sziget, which fell under Hungarian rule in 1939.

In April, 1944, after the Germans took over in Hungary and installed a friendly Hungarian regime, the residents of Sziget were interned in a large ghetto that held approximately 11,000 people.  One month later, beginning on May 17, 1944, the Hungarians pushed the people of Sziget onto a series of transports – the Weiners were on the final transport of May 21 together with the family of Elie Wiesel – which took them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. After three days, the transport arrived in the middle of the night at Birkenau, where all were driven off the transport by SS men with guns and dogs, entering a new and unknown world. Abby was separated from his mother whom he would never see again, but was with his father as they were inducted into Birkenau.

After a few days, they were moved to Auschwitz I where they were tattooed, and where many Sziget men and boys were standing together in a group.  Abby Weiner and his father were A7705-7706; Elie Wiesel was A7713.  Abby was separated from his father and sent to the Jawiszowice subcamp, while his father was sent with the others from Sziget to Auschwitz III-Monowitz, or Buna.  In Jawiszowice, Abby was put to work for seven months sorting rocks from coal on a conveyer belt and also pushing carts connected with the coal mining operation.

When Jawiszowice was evacuated, Abby Weiner was on a death march, walking with a group and also occasionally surreptitiously riding hidden on a sled that other boys pulled, and then they were in an open car transport that came ultimately to Buchenwald, arriving January 22, 1945.  At Buchenwald, Abby Weiner was registered as prisoner #117207 at Buchenwald, but then was prisoner #120342. He recalls being placed in quarantine in a large wooden barrack in the kleines lager (little camp) and then being moved to block 8, the children’s block, in the grosse lager (main camp). Abby recalls even before being put in block 8 encountering his father Chaim in Buchenwald. 

Chaim arrived on the open car transport from Buna, which arrived January 26, 1945 – this is also the transport that carried Elie Wiesel to Buchenwald.  Chaim Weiner was on it; so was Abby’s friend Armin Rosenberg from Sziget who encountered Abby in the little camp and informed him his father was there. Chaim was in a weakened state and Abby conspired to see him four times that week.  They spent time together, several days, but then his father, who was beaten for his food in the barracks, expired, and the last time Abby came to see him he was gone. Abby recalls looking at the pile of dead bodies outside the barrack unable to find his father.

Abby stayed in block 8 during the final chaotic days of the camp, which was liberated by American troops on April 11, 1945. After liberation, Abby remained inside the grosse lager; while many of the Buchenwald boys, including Elie Wiesel and Armin Rosenberg later went to France for rehabilitation in group homes run by the OSE, Abby left Buchenwald early and went with Otto Exinger to his home in Wurzberg. Otto Exinger took him to Frankfurt, and there, he was reunited with Idy and George Weiner, his father’s brother’s children, who were from Kisvarda and Budapest.  Ultimately, an American officer from Brooklyn, Harry Silver, who later married Idy, got them a house and he stayed there.  He also got Abby illegally to England, flying him into England dressed in an American uniform.

In England, Abby studied to be a tool and die maker and went to London where he lived in a group hostel.  He was part of the 1945 Aid Society, hooking up with some of the boys who had come to England from Buchenwald and Theresienstadt after liberation.   Later, he came to New York to an uncle in Brooklyn and subsequently he lived in the Bronx.  He worked in textiles on the Lower East Side, was drafted into the army in Korea, became a citizen, went to display school on the GI Bill, later met Bonnie, a Brooklyn girl, and lived in the Bronx and in Westchester. He and Bonnie had two children – Howard and Gayle, as well as four grandchildren.