Weissberger, Ela 1930–
Weissberger, Ela 1930–
(Ela Stein Weissberger)
Born June 30, 1930, in Czechoslovakia; daughter of Max and Marketa Stein; married Leopold Weissberger. Education: Attended art school. Religion: Jewish.
Home and office—Tappan, NY.
Author. Military service: Israeli Army; became sergeant.
(With Susan Goldman Rubin) The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2006.
As a Holocaust survivor, it has been Ela Weissberger's goal to share her stories of life within the concentration camps with younger generations. Weissberger was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930, and her world changed when the German Nazis invaded her country in the fall of 1938. Weissberger and her family were Jews, and three years later, at age eleven, she and her family were transported from her home to the Terezin concentration camp, located outside the city of Prague. Of the 15,000 children held in Terezin throughout the duration of World War II, only one hundred survived, Weissberger being one of them. Weissberger shares her story of survival through speaking engagements as well as in her autobiography The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin, coauthored with Susan Goldman Rubin. In an interview for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Weissberger remarked of her experiences: "It is by a miracle that I can talk about it. I was saved. I think I speak in the voices of those that couldn't make it."
The Cat with the Yellow Star describes the arrival of Weissberger and her family at Terezin and includes Weissberger's recollections of performing in the opera Brundibar, a work composed by Czech composer and prison-camp inmate Hans Krása as part of a 1944 Nazi propaganda film. Weissberger played the part of the Cat and appeared in all fifty-five performances that were staged within the camp. In addition to telling Weissberger's story, The Cat with the Yellow Star features examples of art work Weissberger created while in Terezin, and also includes photographs of the children who became her friends. Teri Markson, writing in School Library Journal, regarded Weissberger's story as a "finely tuned collaboration [that] weaves together narrative and memories into one cohesive story of trauma, friendship, and survival." In Kirkus Reviews a critic also commented on the poignancy of the work, calling Weissberger's tale an "intense, brisk and plainspoken" work that "makes for irresistible reading." Hazel Rochman, in her review of The Cat with the Yellow Star for Booklist, called the work a "poignant biography of a Holocaust survivor" that details events "without concealment or exploitation."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin, p. 100.
Horn Book, July-August, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Cat with the Yellow Star, p. 468.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of The Cat with the Yellow Star, p. 522.
Publishers Weekly, March 20, 2006, review of The Cat with the Yellow Star, p. 57.
School Library Journal, June, 2006, Teri Markson, review of The Cat with the Yellow Star, p. 184.
Cincinnati Enquirer Online,http://news.enquirer.com/ (October 19, 2000), Janelle Gelfand, interview with Weissberger.
Colorado Springs Independent Online,http://www.csindy.com/ (January 13, 2000), Owen Perkins, "Songs of Resistance: Ela Stein Weissberger Recalls Her Role in Brundibar, a Children's Opera Staged in the Terezin Concentration Camp."
Music of Remembrance Web site,http://www.musicofremembrance.org/ (July 8, 2007), "Ela Stein Weissberger."
Time Online,http://www.time.com/ (May 25, 2003), Heather Won Tesoriero, "Where Young Things Are."