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Surviving the Holocaust

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Holocaust survivor and author, Alter WienerGrace Church will present as a featured speaker Alter Wiener, one of the few Holocaust survivors living in the Portland area. Wiener is the author of "64735 - From a Name to a Number, a Holocaust Survivor's Autobiography.”

When Alter Wiener was 13, his father was brutally murdered by German soldiers on Sept. 11, 1939, near their home in Chrzanów, Poland, and thrown into a pit, together with 36 other victims. Two years later, German soldiers stormed into Alter’s home, told him he had three minutes to pack his things, and took the 15-year-old boy away. He was deported to Blechhammer, a forced labor camp for Jews in Germany.

As a teenager, Alter was incarcerated in five different camps. He slaved for the Nazis under brutal conditions and the ever-watchful eyes of the SS.

It was at Waldenburg Concentration Camp where he was stripped of the last of his belongings, including his name, and his arm was stamped with his new identity: Number 64735.

Upon liberation by the Russian Army from Waldenburg on May 9, 1945, the 19-year-old boy was a walking skeleton weighing 80 pounds.

He returned to Chrzanów to discover that nearly his entire family had been murdered in the Holocaust. Only five of his cousins were alive, and 123 relatives had been killed.

He searched for his only brother, hoping he was still alive, but never found him.

Many years later at a Holocaust survivors’ reunion, Alter learned of the fate of his brother, whom he had not seen since they’d been briefly reunited at Blechammer forced labor camp. One of the survivors told him that “he had put my brother in one of the ovens with his own hands” at Auschwitz, Alter said. His brother had been gassed.

Eventually, Alter married. He and his wife lived in New York, where they had two sons.

He moved to Oregon in 2000, and since then he has shared his life story with audiences at hundreds of universities, colleges, middle and high schools, churches, synagogues, prisons and clubs throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Alter Wiener’s talks are filled with endearing humor, despite his heartbreaking story.

His autobiography is a testimony to the tragedy of the Holocaust that took place in WWII. Its message illustrates what prejudice may lead to and how tolerance is imperative.

Wiener’s presentation will be held from 10 a.m. - noon, Saturday, June 7, at Grace Church, 901 N. Molalla Ave.

The event is sponsored by the Molalla Boys Scouts, Molalla 4-H Club and the 9/12 Patriots.