• Margaret's Legacy

Through the lives Margaret and Arthur Weisz, Danna tells the story of the Holocaust

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

Jul 17, 2015 by Debra Downey of the Dundas Star News for The Hamilton Spectator

After surviving the Holocaust, Margaret and Arthur Weisz relocated to Hamilton. In 1978, the family founded the property management company Effort Trust. - Weisz family photo

A simple question from a curious 11-year-old girl has changed the course of her mother’s life and educated thousands about tolerance, peace and acceptance of race, colour and religion.

In February 2009, young Sari Horwood and her family were bidding farewell to beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother Margaret Weisz. After a courageous battle with cancer, Margaret passed away peacefully in her Hamilton home on Feb. 4.

As the family was leaving funeral services at Temple Anshe Sholom, Sari turned to her mom, Danna Horwood, and asked: “Why don’t I know Grandma’s Holocaust story?”

The question immediately struck a chord with Horwood, and she knew she had to move quickly to tell and preserve Margaret and her husband Arthur’s story of courage, survival and love.

“My great grandparents came to Canada with nothing but a suitcase, but friends sponsored them. My grandmother worked as a seamstress and my grandfather was a brick layer.”

“My grandpa (Margaret’s husband) was 92 at the time and I knew I had to get the story and do this for my children,” said Horwood. “I wanted to be sure I taught my kids about the Holocaust, and other children, too, to give the younger generation a better understanding of what happened and why, and why we can’t allow history to repeat itself.”

Horwood, who worked in the fashion industry at the time, put her life on hold and spent the next six months devising a plan, finding a director and producing a 37-minute video entitled Margaret and Arthur’s Story. While all the Weisz family members are featured on the video, Arthur’s story is the focus. She spent two full days videotaping and listening to her grandfather speak about his early life, surviving the war and immigration to Canada.

“Once he got speaking, he was so ready to keep talking and that was amazing to me,” said Horwood. “There were a lot of tears and it was very emotional, but he was very clear in wanting to tell his story to make sure this never happened again.”

Margaret Stadler and Arthur Weisz grew up on the same street in Moson, Hungary. When the Second World War began, their lives of relative luxury abruptly ended. Arthur lost his job and was forced into the Hungarian army; Margaret was no longer allowed to go school. In 1944, at the age of 19, Margaret and her family members were pushed onto a crowded cattle car and taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

“When they got to Auschwitz my great grandmother and her father were told to go left,” said Horwood. “Her brother and mother were told to go right. My grandmother never saw her brother or mother again.”

Separated from his wife and her family, Arthur was forced to labour in a factory in Hungary. But for the kindness of a German soldier, Horwood said, her grandfather would never have survived. Of the 1,000 men in the camp, only 30 made it thorough.

At the end of the war in 1945, Arthur and his bride were reunited and started a family and a successful business. However, they found the post-war communist government repressive and, in a dramatic escape, trekked through the forests to a camp for displaced persons in Austria. The couple and their young son, Tom, eventually immigrated to Hamilton.

“My great grandparents came to Canada with nothing but a suitcase, but friends sponsored them,” said Horwood. “My grandmother worked as a seamstress and my grandfather was a brick layer.”

Ten years after their son was born, the happy couple had another child, Janet. Arthur became a respected landowner and dedicated his professional efforts to helping immigrants find safe housing. In 1978, the family founded the property management company Effort Trust. Along with Horwood and her brother, the Weiszes had three other grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Before Margaret’s death in 2009, the couple had been married for a remarkable 65 years.

Six months after telling his story on video, Horwood said her grandfather started to become weaker and weaker. He died peacefully, also in the comfort of his home, on April 22, 2013. He was 95.

by Debra Downey

Debra Downey is the Senior Editor for Ancaster News and Dundas Star News. She can be reached at ddowney@hamiltonnews.com

Original article can be found at https://www.thespec.com/community-story/5739585-through-the-lives-of-effort-trust-founders-margaret-and-arthur-weisz-granddaughter-danna-tells-the-story-of-the-holocaust/

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