Nikolaus Wiesner was born March 29, 1919 in Pelsoc, Slovakia, a town near what was then the Czechoslovakian border with Hungary. He moved to Budapest as an adult and served in the Hungarian army until Jewish soldiers were no longer permitted to bear arms. They were then forced to serve in work details. (As an Orthodox Jew, he did not eat meat for the several years of his service.)
Nearly all his fellow Jewish soldiers were ordered to the Russian front during the Russian-German confrontation where most died of malnutrition, disease, and extreme winter weather. Mr. Wiesner escaped this fate as a result of several indirectly self-inflicted injuries: a mangled foot and temporary blindness. He was forced, however, to remain behind German lines during the German withdrawal from Russia and became critically ill in a small town in Austria. He was hospitalized, but not given adequate medical care. As luck would have it, he had a dramatic reunion with his younger brother, who coincidentally had arrived in the same town after serving on a work detail in Yugoslavia. This meeting may have saved his life, as his brother was able to smuggle in food and other necessities to him.
During the war, Mr. Wiesner lost his parents, three of his four brothers and one of his sisters. His oldest brother died on the Russian front, his parents and two younger brothers died in concentration camps, and his sister died when a boat she was on, sank after being set on fire.
Biography written by Steven Demeter