Today, at his small Spanish-style home in Mid-City, Weinstein, 101, recalls in agonizing detail what it was like to give up his baby in 1941 amid the Nazi juggernaut. He is frail, but his wit and memory are keen. He remembers well what followed: killing Germans, dodging death, hunting for Natalie.
Holocaust scholars vouch for his account, calling him one of the last living fighters from the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, almost certainly the oldest.
For years, Weinstein kept his memories buried.
It is important to tell about Nazi horrors, he now says, so they are never forgotten. It is, he says, important to tell the story of his search for his little girl.
Weinstein was born in the Jewish village of Radzymin, Poland. As a child, he was independent, even stubborn. His family adhered to Orthodox Judaism, but he never fully believed. He defied his elders and grew into something of a tough. Eyes gleaming, he recalls those who called him a “dirty Jew.”
“They’d meet my fists,” he says. “Then they’d be picking their teeth from the ground.”
He joined the [Warsaw] ghetto resistance. “If we were going to die,” Weinstein says, “we would do it on our own terms. We would die standing proud, on our feet, making a statement to the world. We would take as many of those bastards as we could kill.”
He helped organize and train resistance fighters. On occasion, using his forged papers, he talked his way out of the ghetto and smuggled weapons back inside.
On April 19, 1943, the first night of Passover, the Nazis began their final push to wipe out the ghetto. When German tanks rolled forward, Jewish fighters appeared at windows, on rooftops, along street corners. They hurled grenades, Molotov cocktails, bricks and rocks. Weinstein ran along rooftops in a fury, strafing Nazis with a machine gun.
He looked out a window. A solitary soldier stood guard below.
Weinstein leaped. His steel-toed boots slammed into the soldier’s head. “He fell like a sack of stones,” Weinstein says. “I could see his skull, his blood, brains. For killing a man who hunted me, I felt nothing but good — and I was so excited I felt no pain.
Kurt Streeter, Los Angeles Times
Webmaster note: They say that during the war, you couldn’t find anyone who fought in the resistance, yet after the war you couldn’t find anyone who wasn’t in the resistance. Thank goodness this ridiculous fable has been vouchsafed by “Holocaust scholars.”