Auschwitz survivor dies at 100 in fire at home in Brooklyn

Pallbearers carry coffin bearing the body of David Weiss, a 100-year old Brooklyn man who died in a fire in his Williamsburg home, during his funeral Sunday at the Satmar shul on Bedford St.

Pallbearers carry coffin bearing the body of David Weiss, a 100-year old Brooklyn man who died in a fire in his Williamsburg home, during his funeral Sunday at the Satmar shul on Bedford St.

From the Daily News

BY BARRY PADDOCK, ERICA PEARSON and SIMONE WEICHSELBAUM
DAILY NEWS WRITERS

Pallbearers carry coffin bearing the body of David Weiss, a 100-year old Brooklyn man who died in a fire in his Williamsburg home, during his funeral Sunday at the Satmar shul on Bedford St.
David Weiss went to synagogue every day, including Saturday, the day he died, relatives said.

David Weiss went to synagogue every day, including Saturday, the day he died, relatives said.

A Brooklyn man who survived both world wars, the Auschwitz gas chambers and the deaths of four wives perished at age 100 when he was trapped in a fire in his Williamsburg home.

David Weiss had seen the worst of the world but remained deeply faithful. He went to synagogue every day, including the morning he died, when relatives said he returned home for a forgotten prayer shawl and was caught in the flames.

“He lived for God,” said his granddaughter, Faigy Stroh. “A very humble man.”

Neighbors called Weiss a lively man who seemed younger than his years.

“A 100-year-old man and he still walked without a cane – he still walked on his two feet. To be killed in a fire? It is a tragedy,” said Moses Bineth, 31, who works at the minimart where Weiss bought chocolate for his great-grandkids.

When firefighters arrived at 144 Division Ave. at 9:04 a.m. Saturday, flames had engulfed a row of buildings between Bedford Ave. and Clymer St. near the Williamsburg Bridge. They were mostly small businesses with apartments on the second floor.

The fire was so intense it was deemed unsafe for firefighters to enter the buildings, officials said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Even after the flames were doused from the outside just after noon, the structures remained so shaky that rescuers could not go inside until after midnight.

Weiss’ body was found under the dining table, relatives said. He was not burned and apparently died of smoke inhalation.

Relatives said about 14 people, including Weiss’ daughter, Sarah, and several grandchildren, were celebrating the Sabbath at the apartment. All but Weiss escaped unhurt.

Born in Romania, Weiss was in his early 30s when he was sent to the Polish concentration camp where his pregnant first wife, Rivkah, and three children were killed.

Yanky Weiss said his grandfather was minutes away from being forced into the death chamber himself.

“He was in line to be burnt,” the grandson said. “For some reason, two soldiers pulled him out of the line. He had no idea why. Our theory was that he was a strong-looking man and they could use him for work.”

After the war, Weiss moved to Israel and became a truck driver. He and his second wife, Chaya, had two girls and four boys.

She died of cancer years ago, and the widower moved to Brooklyn, where he earned a living in a knitting factory despite his difficulty learning English.

He married twice more, only to survive both wives. His funeral was held Sunday at the Satmar Shul on Bedford St., where prayers rang out, broadcast over speakers.

Stroh said her grandfather went to synagogue every morning no matter what – “ice, snow, anything.”

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