Lena (Lunia) Weiss



Lunia Gartner Weiss was born in 1922 in Stryj, Poland,a member of a large, close orthodox family whose considerable wealth came from oil and iron. The family spent their summers in Schodrica, Poland  at the foot of the Carpathian mountains where their oil business was located.

Mrs. Weiss' immediate family included her parents and younger brother;  she also discussed eighteen other family members although there were numerous others. Only Mrs. Weiss survived.

She described her life before the war as "wonderful."  She felt that there was no overt anti-semitism because of the status of her fami1y in the community.  (She compared her family to the Rockefellers and said that her name was known throughout Europe.) Following is a chronology of her  experiences during and after the war.

•1939 - Germans advanced on Poland. The Jewish population of Stryj moved eastward. After a week,  Poland was divided; Stryj was in the Soviet section so the partners returned, later moving to Schodrica.

•1941 - In Schodrica,  Germans ordered Jews to return to their original homes. A Ghetto was built in Stryj.  Mrs. Weiss (not married until after the war) worked as a maid and cook for the German and Ukrainian police.  As part of the resistance in the Ghetto, her assignment was to spy.  A labor camp was then established at Stryj.  Mrs. Weiss' first job was to work on a pipeline;  later she labored in the gardens. Actions began.

•1943 - Mrs. Weiss saw her parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins taken away to their deaths. Mrs. Weiss' brother was killed during some fighting after the liquidation of his labor camp. Mrs. Weiss escaped from her camp to hide in a small bunker with her husband-to-be, Leo Weiss and his mother.

•1945 - Liberation by the Russians. Lunia Gartner and Leo Weiss were married and went to a D.P. camp in ltaly.  They both received college scholarships and were educated there, she as a pharmacist and he as a chemist.

•1951 - The family immigrated to the U.S. with their small daughter.

(Note: The tape ends abruptly as Mrs. Weiss did not wish to discuss her life in America. She said that her daughters, like her husband, prefer to remain "private.")

Mrs.Weiss described herself as a person with more than nine Lives. On the tapes, she told about a rape, an improvised abortion in the Ghetto, escape from a mass shooting and from a train bound for Auschwitz.

Discussing the "good" among the evil, Mrs. Weiss talked about a Jewish Capo in her labor camp whom she labeled "an angel, like a father to us all" and a Ukrainian who delivered her mother's diamonds to her and told her the location of her parents' deaths.

Mrs. Weiss has lectured on the Holocaust.  Her daughters have taped her testimony. She has written her memoirs for her daughters. One daughter is presently editing the memoirs. They have not yet decided whether to publish them.

Biography written by Suzanne M Jaschik