Discovery of a shared Holocaust history

Sept 2023
Wendy Schneider

Georgina Rosenberg and Danna Horwood have been friends for 11 years, since Rosenberg moved here from Toronto to be with her partner, now husband, Benjy Katz. Rosenberg’s recent discovery of new details surrounding her mother’s Holocaust experiences has deepened that bond. 

It began with a simple request that Rosenberg made to Federation CEO Gustavo Rymberg last spring. Rosenberg had recently received a document, written in German, from the Claims Conference based on testimony her mother gave to the organization in 1967, and she was wondering if the young researcher Rymberg had hired to curate the main exhibit for the soon to be constructed Margaret’s Legacy Holocaust Learning Centre could translate it into English for her. Cory Osmond would do that and much, much more. His research would reveal strikingly parallel fates suffered during the Holocaust by Rosenberg’s mother and Horwood’s grandmother, Margaret Weisz in whose memory the new centre is named.

Sura Rosenberg (neé Weisel) was 13 years old when her family fled from Romania to Budapest in the weeks leading up to the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1944. Margaret Weisz was a newly-wed 23-year-old desperately trying to avoid deportation.

In June, 1944, both women were deported to Auschwitz, and in the months that followed, both women were sent to the Gross-Rosen network of Nazi forced labour camps in Czechoslovakia. In January 1945, both Margaret and Sura survived the horrendous death marches from Gross-Rosen. 

Margaret would go on to be liberated by the Americans, while Sura spent the final months of the war at the Glabonz forced labour camp, where she was liberated by the Soviet army and forced to restart her life in Communist Romania. After the war, Margaret and Arthur Weisz would make a new life for themselves in Hamilton, with their son Tom, who was born in a DP camp. Rosenberg’s parents would immigrate to Canada much later (her father refused to leave her grandmother behind in Romania), eventually settling in Toronto in 1965. Rosenberg remembers coming to Hamilton as a child to visit other Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivors, but she never dreamed she’d be the one to close the circle on the parallel journeys taken by Sura Rosenberg and Margaret Weisz. 

“I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason,” said Rosenberg. “Here I am married to a man from Hamilton, in this incredible community that I actually now love, with this new friend, and this connection ... and now we find out that her grandmother and my mother were possibly side by side at the same camp at the same time.”