“When we were bombed, we didn’t see such terrible things, but this was so intense, the whole inner city of Berlin was all of a sudden erased.”- Curt and Gertrude Weiss
Curt Weiss was born on December 6, 1895 in Berlin to Jewish parents. In December of 1922, he married Gertrude, a Christian woman, and they had two sons identified as Mischlinge by the Nazis. The older son was taken to England through the Kindertransport in April 1938. His testimony is included in the archives of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center under the name of Kenneth Wilde. The younger son, Gerhardt, who was also sponsored on this program, became ill and was unable to leave in August 1939. He therefore spent the war period with his parents in Berlin.
When the Nazis’ antisemitic laws were implemented, Weiss was only in high school, and yet he was expelled for his ancestry. Weiss’ father Curt was actually rounded up during the Rosenstrasse Protest, and his mother protested alongside other Aryan wives for his release. Even after the war, Jewish children were not allowed to attend formal education as a result of the deep-rooted antisemitism. Fortunately, Weiss was able to attend school run by a former professor from Berlin University in his own apartment, and Weiss finally graduated.
In 1946, Weiss and his parents moved to the St. Louis. Quickly, Weiss dedicated himself to furthering his education. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Germanic Studies. He then went on to receive his doctorate in Germanic Studies from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and there he met Janet Smith, his wife. Gertrude Weiss died in 1991, Curt Weiss died in 1996, and Dr. Gerhard Weiss died in 2019.
Learn more information about the Weiss Family from the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. You can also listen to Curt and Gertrude’s Oral History below. Images courtesy of the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum.
Written by Michelle Beebe