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Name: Martin Weingarten
City / Municipality: Carmel
Age: 100 years
Died: April 16
Martin Weingarten was born in the Spanish flu during the most serious pandemic in recent history as the son of two confectionery dealers in Austria.
He would grow into a curious and fearful teenager who watched from his family’s fourth floor apartment as the Nazis brutally beat his Jewish neighbors on the sidewalks of Vienna.
Weingarten escaped and spent a splendid 80 years in the United States, first in New York, where he worked for his uncle, and then on a US Air Force base. Then in Maryland as an employee of the United States Census Bureau.
Weingarten died in Carmel on April 16 amid the world’s most recent pandemic. Coronavirus has been classified as a cause of death, according to his nephew Joe Weingarten.
He never knew he had signed COVID-19. When he died, Weingarten suffered from dementia, said his nephew.
But this 100-year-old man never let the trials of his life affect his point of view or destroy his goodwill.
“Oh, he was very kind, very happy,” said Joe Weingarten, 75, of Fishers. “He was always the nicest guy in the room. He was always smiling, always one of those good-hearted guys.”
Weingarten was born on November 28, 1919, during the Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 pandemic influenza. This health crisis was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The flu spread around the world, infecting 500 million people, a third of the world’s population, from 1918 to 1919. The death toll is estimated at at least 50 million, with about 675,000 in the United States, according to the CDC.
Weingarten, however, was certainly born to Mancie and Isak Weingarten, the youngest of three boys.
The family lived in an apartment above the candy store in “quiet surroundings” with a “close family,” Weingarten wrote in a 9-page 45,000-word document for his family entitled “A Brief Personal History of Myself and” Family. “
When Weingarten was still a teenager, Weingarten’s parents sold the candy store and opened a general store selling household items such as soaps, detergents, and various fragrances. It was a great financial success, so the Weingartens bought two four-story apartment buildings and moved their family to the top floor of one of them.
Even as a young boy, Weingarten was always interested in world events. He became more interested when the world around him became terrible. Adolf Hitler, chairman of the NSDAP, insisted on merging Austria with Germany.
“In the end, Hitler succeeded in luring the Austrian head of government to a fateful meeting at which he forcibly arrested him and robbed him of his position,” wrote Weingarten.
This meeting was followed by the German invasion of Austria on March 12, 1938.
Within a few weeks of the invasion, Izak Weingarten and other Jewish business owners were picked up by the National Socialist authorities. He was detained and threatened. He was eventually released after agreeing to close his general store and appoint an administrator for the apartment buildings.
“We were all naturally relieved to see him come home safely,” wrote Weingarten. “The loss of property and income was no longer important.”
The 18-year-old Weingarten and his brother Morris managed to obtain the relevant documents and in the summer of 1938 they left Vienna by train for Constance in Germany. There they hoped to get to Switzerland. The Gestapo, the German secret police in Konstanz, was said to have led emigrants across the Swiss border.
“Emigrants were only allowed to take 10 Deutsche Mark out of Germany, but our father had given us a number of dollar bills that we had hidden in a bar of shaving soap,” wrote Weingarten.
With the help of Gestapo officers, accommodation was arranged for Weingarten in a nearby abandoned former hostel on a hill in Switzerland. While there with other Jewish young men, they did work, repair, and maintenance, and sometimes played games and sports.
At the beginning of March 1939, after almost eight months in the camp, the Weingarten brothers received a message from the American embassy in Zurich that their entry visas were ready. After making their way to Zurich and then to Antwerp, they boarded a passenger ship bound for New York.
Weingarten would never take his life for granted for the next 80 years.
A stint in the U.S. Army in 1943 before being medically discharged for scarlet fever. He received his college degree in business administration and statistics in June 1959.
And his marriage to his dear Elisabeth in February 1950.
At 39, after working for his uncle for nearly two decades, Weingarten got a job as a management analyst at an air force base in Rome, New York. He was later transferred to the Census Bureau in Suitland, Maryland. There he ended his 26-year career as a senior economic advisor to the deputy director for economic sectors in 1984.
Until a few years ago Weingarten read the “Wall Street Journal” every day, said his nephew. One day when Joe Weingarten visited him at the Stratford in Carmel, he noticed that the newspaper was tucked under his uncle’s arm.
He asked someone at the Stratford if they were still reading it. “No, he’s just carrying it around,” he was told. Joe Weingarten canceled his uncle’s subscription. On his next visit, Weingarten had found a copy of IndyStar and tucked it under his arm.
Weingarten and Elisabeth moved into The Stratford retirement community about 10 years ago to be around his nephew. He and Elisabeth, who died a few years ago, had no children due to their time in four concentration camps.
Contribution of the Indianapolis Star