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08 March 2012

Updates on Leslie Schwartz and the Death of Martin Fuss, Jr.

WITH GREAT SADNESS, I relate that Leslie Schwartz has informed me that Martin Fuss Jr. has passed away after a lengthy illness. He lived his entire life on his family farm near Dachau, Germany. He was 82 years of age. Martin Fuss Jr was the son of the great man, Martin Fuss, who assisted Leslie Schwartz for several months when Leslie was imprisoned at Dachau and working at the railroad station at Karlsfeld in 1944. Leslie reunited with Martin Fuss in 1972.Of their reunion after so many years, Schwartz said, "when I walked in, he was in a wheelchair, and both of us broke down and cried--he immediately recognized me."

Leslie told  me stories of how the senior Martin Fuss would relate to his son, the details of the daily occurrences of Dachau, especially the exploits of the infamous capo Cristof Ludwig Knoll. Fuss had a good relationship with many of the guards and was thus able to come and go without much suspicion. This relationship also allowed him to help Leslie (and perhaps others?) with impunity. Leslie expressed nothing but fondness for the happy times he spent in the company of the the Fuss family for many decades after the war.

Interestingly, Martin Fuss Jr. was approximately the same age as Leslie, only reinforcing the theme that has played out throughout Schwartz' young life. Leslie always seemed to find surrogate parents. Just as Agnes Reisch and Barbara Huber looked at Leslie and saw him as their son, so did Martin Fuss. In Leslie's view, the heart and compassion of some Germans, the basic human decency which dictates that here is a child suffering and this could very well be my child, could not be destroyed even by the Nazi regime.

Leslie last saw Martin Fuss Jr. during the summer of 2011. He recalls fond conversation the two shared recently. Fuss told Leslie that though the war was tough, living on a farm always allowed them to have a little more to eat than the rest of his countrymen. Leslie was also the beneficiary of this good fortune.

IN OTHER NEWS Leslie announced that plans are in the works for a trip to Hungary this summer. This bit of news is rather amazing and dramatic considering the rising tide of antisemitism these days in Hungary; according to Leslie, there is a great struggle going on now in the government as to who will rule, with many of the people in positions of power supporting blatant Holocaust deniers. He is hoping to return and make a difference allowing people to examine his wounds if you will should they doubt that the Holocaust ever happened! His work is never done.

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