Kurt Weiler, who was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States from Wuppertal in 1936, served as a corporal in the U.S. Army during World War II. The three documents in this collection, on display at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, describe the concentration camps upon liberation. The U. S. Army's 42nd Rainbow Division liberated the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. This account was written for the May 1 edition of the division's newsletter and retained by Weiler. The account describes the wasted bodies of the camp's few survivors and the twisted corpses of the dead, many of them stacked near the crematorium like "some maniac's woodpile." Even war correspondents who had witnessed battles at first hand were stunned by the sight. Weiler contributed to the report on the Buchenwald concentration camp while serving as a corporal in the U.S. Army. He also wrote a letter to his relatives Max and Norma Herrman describing his discovery of the subterranean factory where the world's first jet fighter was built for the Nazis by slave laborers. Courtesy Estate of Kurt Weiler.
Renee Chelm, a Jew by choice and a native of Maple Heights, grew up in Burton and lived in Novelty for several years. Chelm graduated from Berkshire High School and attended Bowling Green State University (BGSU). It was not until she attended BGSU that she met her first Jew. Chelm and her late husband, Michael Petty, converted to Judaism in 1989.
In 2013, Chelm was elected to a three-year term as board chair of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. This interview is part of a series of interviews documenting the experience of leaders of the Jewish community in order to understand the development of the Jewish community and its role in the larger society.