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Louis Weiser was born in Podwoloczyska, Poland on September 9, 1923 to Sarah née Ferber and Arjeh Weiser. Lou was the oldest of three chidlren and his twin sisters Lusia and Nusia were born in 1928. During his childhood he was an excellent student, both in public school and in his religious studies. In 1936 he was admitted to the Gymnasium in the nearby town of Tarnopol, and there was no more time for religious education. A few weeks after Lou became Bar Mitzvah his father, Arjeh, underwent surgery but an infection of the kidneys resulted and he died in October of 1936. Lou and his immediate family's life changed dramatically after the death of his father but his education was to continue. The changing political landscape in Germany was a source of concern but Lou's life was more focused on his immediate family and circumstances. Then on September 17, 1939 the Russians occupied Lou's hometown. The Russians were well behaved and treated the local population well. Many of their soldiers were Jewish and told the community that the alliance with Germany was a ruse. Lou and his family did well under the occupation of the Russians and he found himself quite convinced by the communist ideals. In the spring and summer of 1941 the Russians started moving their troops towards the German border but the wind quickly turned and the Russians bgan burning documents and evacuating from Lou's hometown. Lou and his friends discussed what they should do since they knew the Germans were putting all able bodied men to work for them in labor camps. Lou made the decision to leave for Russia on July 1, 1941. His paternal grandparents begged him to stay, but he reassured them that the war would only last a few weeks and he would return. He would never see his family again.
Lou traveled with three friends to Kiev but it quickly became apparent that the Germans were moving quickly toward the city. The group continued traveling east. It was in the city of Kuibyshew, the temporary seat of the Russian government, that Lou's uncle Joseph Landes found him and convinced Lou to travel with his group. Lou and Joseph continued to move east, finding work and meeting extended family, before continuing on to Asia. They arrived in Samarkand and were transported to a collective farm in December of 1941. Soon after Lou and Joseph moved again, always searching for work, and Lou contracted malaria. Being ill caused problems but he continued to work especially after Joseph was drafted into the Soviet Army. Lou then decided that the quickest way to be reunited with his family would be to join the Red Army, which he did in 1943. In 1944 during active duty, Lou found himself close to his hometown and Jewish survivors of the German atrocities started to emerge from various hideouts once the Red Army was spotted. It was hard for Lou and his fellow soldiers to believe the stories they were told. Lou's regiment continued to fight and eventually made their way to Lublin where they were directed to tour Majdanek. The armies continued to fight one another and Lou realized the goal was to survive the war which was finally coming to an end. Lou was wounded in March of 1945 and evacuated from Germany to a suburb of Warsaw by a Jewish doctor. The hospital was evacuated and Lou found himself in western Siberia. He was there still recovering on "V" Day. Lou had stayed in touch with his uncle Josef and heard from him that he was married to a Russian woman and that the rest of the family, Lou's immediate and much of the extended family, had died during the war. Lou was reassigned once he healed but once demobilization started he was released because of his injury to go home. Knowing there was no home to return to he decided to join his uncle Josef, and his new wife, in Estonia. After a period Lou, Josef andhis wife decided to move back to Poland. Lou then joined a group of Zionists who wished to emigrate to Palestine and establish a kibbutz. Lou became one of the group's educators and it was during this period that he met his future wife, Helen. In June of 1946 the group left for Palestine. The trip was illegal, as the English wanted to keep refugees of the war from immigrating to Palestine, and very difficult. During this period the group was introduced to the Irgun, a group which believed that armed resistence was needed against the English. While making their way across Europe, Lou's smaller group was caught and arrested in Austria. They were imprisioned for a number of weeks before their trial before an American judge. Those members of the group under age 18 were released and those older than 18 were sentenced to six months in a labor camp. But Helen fought loud and hard and the group was released to Americans after only 2 weeks in the camp. The group continued on their journey, now headed towards Italy. They managed to make it to Italy and were taken to the Jewish center in Milan. From there they were sent to a displaced persons camp where they learned that the English were diverting all immigrant ships to Cyprus. Wanting to avoid this, the group once again went back to Milan where they continued to work with the Irgun. Lou's job was to learn Italian quickly so that he could work as a negotiater between the United Nations Relief Fund and the Joint Distribution Committee. During this period, Lou started to suffer from a similar ailment as his father and had to decide how to proceed. He decided, with the support of Helen and their superiors, that he would travel to Paris where an uncle of his was working for a doctor. Lou had to apply for a Polish passport and then receive a transit visa from the French in order to make it to Paris, where he remained by extending his temporary visa. Helen chose to join him, by smuggling herself into France, in Paris rather then finish her academic studies in Italy. They managed to join a workstudy program with the help of the Jewish Refugee group. After finishing the program both Lou and Helen worked at a variety of jobs as jobs were difficult to find and hold but eventually they found themselves making handbags for good money. In February of 1949 they were married in Paris. Helen then insisted that Lou continue his education and he started at the Sorbonne studying Political Science. Lou's health started to decline and he underwent surgery which was successful in addressing his stomach issues. In May of 1952 a friend of Lou encouraged him to apply for a visa for the United Sates and at the same time the French government was encouraging Lou and Helen to become official French citizens. The situation in France, in all of Europe, was uncertain and Lou did not want to become an official French citizen. In late December of 1952 Lou and Helen received notification that their application for a visa to the USA was approved and they were encouraged to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio by a secretary at the USA Embassy. The left France in March of 1953, arrived in New York City where they stayed with distance relatives before making their way to Cincinnati. Lou and Helen both found work, and while they changed jobs over time (Helen opened a toy store) they were settled by 1958 and welcomed their child Mark in October of that year. 
Cincinnati Judaica Fund| 8401 Montgomery Road | Cincinnati, OH 45236 | 513-241-5748
Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education | 8401 Montgomery Road | Cincinnati, OH 45236 | 513-487-3055
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