6525 Morrison Blvd, NC 28211
David Weisz & Sons began as a business in Satu Mare, Romania, which is very close to where the borders of Romania, Hungary, and Ukraine meet today. The business offered finished jewelry and diamonds. David was widely respected in the community as being an honest man who would always tell the true value of his jewels. Everyone in the community who needed an opinion regarding value knew that he was the person to ask.
The business was successful for two decades, until World War II. As the war grew in intensity, David realized that he was unlikely to be able to escape to safety. However, he knew a distant cousin, Martin Weisz, who was about to leave for New York. David Weisz gathered the diamonds from his shop, and gave them to Martin. He told Martin, “Please keep these diamonds safe for me and my family. If we make it out, you will have them for us. If none of us survive, they are yours to keep.”
In 1944, David, his wife and children were deported to the camps. David and every member of his family was killed, except for his son Herman.
By 1945 Herman was alone, and had been moved from camp to camp. On April 11, 1945, he was at the camp called Buchenwald. As the Americans approached, German headquarters telegraphed the camp and told the officers to incinerate the camp and all its remaining captives. As the few remaining officers (many of them had fled) began rounding up the prisoners, Herman Weisz decided that this may be his last chance at survival. He threw himself between two cots in one of the cells and pretended that he was dead. In the chaos, he was left behind. But still he lay there playing dead for hours, not knowing whether or not it was safe to come out.
After a year of torture and unimaginable loss, Herman had lost touch with the idea that human beings could be kind. As the American soldiers approached, Herman became terrified. He was convinced that these men would simply kill him when they found him. When an American soldier gently lifted him from the floor, he was nearly mad with fear and continued to play dead. But the soldier reached into his pocket and pulled out a chocolate bar. He gave bits of the chocolate to Herman, who was deeply malnourished, and assured him that he was safe. This moment of simple human kindness was the beginning of Herman’s re-entry into the world. It planted in him a gratitude and dedication to America and Americans that became one of the most powerful themes of the rest of his life.
Herman finally made it to New York in 1947. His grandfather (David’s father) Chaim had come to the United States for a visit just before the war broke out, and then he got stuck in New York, unable to return to his family. So Herman and his grandfather Chaim had each other ...