Everyone in a small group touring Yadvashem?s new, $100 million exhibit was hushed by the story of Lotte Weiss. The 81-year-old native of Bratislava, Czechoslovakia was one of the first arrivals at Auschwitz, the most notorious death camp. The number tattooed in her arm: 2065.
Her parents, three sisters, and two brothers all died at Auschwitz. But because she befriended a German woman who later became the secretary to the camp?s number-two official, Lotte managed to become a bookkeeper for the camp.
Shortly after liberation, she met her husband, a fellow survivor who passed away in 1982. They moved to New Zealand and started what she calls her ?second life.? Her ?greatest miracle? was giving birth to two healthy children.
Though she must have told her life story hundreds, if not thousands, of times, Lotte displays an enthusiasm that even most 20-years-old could not muster. After leaving Israel, she was bound for Vienna, then London, and then finally back home to Sydney, Australia.
Every week, she can be found giving tours at the Sydney Jewish Museum, something she has done since it opened in 1992. She jokes that since her 13th anniversary of volunteering is coming up, ?I will be bat mitzvahed in November.?
Lotte, who decided to stick with bookkeeping after the Holocaust, worked until November 2003?one month shy of her 80th birthday?but she only retired so that she could focus on preparing for the launch of her book, ?My Two Lives.?
Reading through her engrossing and ultimately uplifting autobiography, it is clear that she believes her story has the same basic foundation as that of many survivors: that their lives are not just touched by miracles, but defined by them.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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