Marion Weiner (nee Dann) was born in 1926 to Dr. Richard and Irma Dann. She lived with her parents and older sister Eva in the Charlottenburg section of Berlin where her father also practiced medicine. In 1938, the anti-Jewish legislation prevented Richard from practicing and he left Germany on a visitor’s visa to New York with the intention of bringing the family to the US. By the time he was able to arrange that in 1941, it was too late to get out.
After non-Jewish schools were closed to Jewish children, Marion and her sister attended the Leonore Goldschmidt Schule, a Jewish school in Berlin, where English language study was emphasized. Once all schools were closed to Jews, Marion, her sister and her mother were conscripted to forced labor in Berlin. Marion worked several jobs including at the Weissensee Cemetery in Berlin.
It wasn’t until February 1943 during the weeks of the final deportations from Berlin, that the three women fled Berlin and, on a tip from a friend, made their way to the Austrian Tyrolean Alps. They traveled with false papers via local transportation where the prospect of police checks was less likely.
They initially stayed with several people including local innkeepers who supported them and enabled them to work undercover. Those opportunities became unsafe for both the rescuers and Marion, her mother, and sister. In the small Tyrolean village of Niederau, Marion met Heinz Thaler, a school teacher and an active resister and deeply moral and religious man. At enormous risk to himself and his family, he hid her for the duration of the war. With Thaler’s help, Marion’s mother and sister also found refuge hiding with like-minded families in nearby villages.
After the war, Marion, her sister and mother worked in Salzburg as interpreters for the American Army stationed there. In May 1946, Marion, her mother, and her sister were finally reunited with her father in New York; they hadn’t seen each other in eight years.
Through family in Washington Heights, Marion met Rudolph Weiner, another German-Jewish refugee. He had come from Meissen, Germany with his parents and brother in 1939. Marion and Rudolph married in 1949 and she worked with Rudolph, a dentist, in his office on Long Island while also raising their two daughters, Peggy and Nancy. Marion and Rudy were also the proud grandparents of Rebecca, Peggy’s daughter.
Marion maintained contact with Heinz Thaler until his death. His children were like siblings to her and the families remain close to this day. In 2014, through Marion’s efforts, Heinz Thaler became a Righteous of the Nations. A ceremony at the Austrian Parliament in September 2014 honored his installation at Yad Vashem.
Marion died on February 15, 2021.