By Thea Weiss
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory.
Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember.
We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”
Lewis Benedictus Smedes, 1921 – 2002
Professor Emeritus of Theology & Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary
Last week, my best friend in NY was viewing the PBS program “Auschwitz Remembered: An NYC-ARTS Special” when she caught a glimpse of Lotte Weiss’s camp photo from 19421. She immediately WhatsApped me and I contacted the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust to share Lotte’s story.
Lotte Weiss is a Holocaust survivor who has never forgotten the horrors of her three years of internment at Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Lotte Weiss, now aged 96 and living in Sydney, Australia for 32 years, was a blossom not crushed by the Nazis. For 25 years, until 2015, Lotte was a volunteer guide at the Sydney Jewish Museum.
Lotte Weiss is my mother-in-law.
Lotte has related these stories of unbelievable and unmentionable horror during the past 46 years. Her memory has remained razor sharp. Her words flow without hesitation. Her voice is calm. There is no bitterness or anger.
Lotte continues to believe in miracles.
In 2003, Lotte documented her experiences in her book My Two Lives. Her first life began in November 1923 and ended in March 1942. Her second began May 1945. She changed the memory of her past into a hope for her future.
A film about Lotte’s Auschwitz experiences and my artistic interpretation of her stories, Creative Responses to the Holocaust, was produced by Sarita Gold in 2015 for the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Yom Hashoah Memorial Service. The artistic choices I have made reflect Lotte’s courage to withstand all that she has endured: the miracles and her memories.
1 Lotte Weiss’s camp photo is on view on the second floor of the exhibition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. Her name at the time was Charlotte Frankl.
Australian-based painter and printmaker Thea Weiss was born in Denver, Colorado. She has had solo exhibitions in Jewish and Holocaust museums in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, Wellington, New Zealand, and in the U.S. in Richmond, Virginia and Houston, Texas. Her prints have been exhibited in group shows in Australia, China and Taiwan.