About William Weinberg, Rabbi Dr.
The full story of Rabbi Dr Weinberg can be found on line at [http://www.courageofspirit.com].
Rabbi Dr. Weinberg suffered persecution and imprisonment under the Nazi regime for his attempts to help fellow Jews leave Germany, and was forced to return to Austria. He served as an educator in the DP camps in Hallein and the region of Salzburg, Austria, establishing a University for the refugees. In 1948, he was called to served as the first Landesrabbiner of Hesse in Germany and as Chairman of the Union of Rabbis of Germany.
Dr. Weinberg was born on April 3, 1901, in Dolina, Galicia, at that time under the Austro-Hungarian Empire( later Poland, now Ukraine). During the outbreak of World War I, he with his parents, Samuel and Bina Weinberg, and his only sibling, Benjamin, fled to Vienna, where they settled. To the best of my understanding, having been born under the Austrian empire and growing up in Vienna, he would be considered an Austrian citizen up until the Nazi regime.
He completed Gymnasia there and later attended the University of Vienna, where he completed his doctorate in Political Science in 1928. His thesis was " Parliamentarism: System and Crisis", describing the collapse of parliamentary democracy in Europe and his diploma was signed by the Universities Chancellor, later on to become Cardinal, Innitzer.
During those years, he was active in Zionist politics ( Hashomer Hatzair and Austrian Zionist Students organization) with such figures as Meir Yaari ( founder of the Israeli MAPAM party) and Martin Buber.
His involvement in Jewish communal life led him to go to Berlin in 1932, to study for ordination under Rabbi Leo Baeck at the Hochschule(or Lehranstalt) fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums. During that time, he suffered persecution and imprisonment under the Nazi regime for his attempts to help fellow Jews leave Germany, and was forced to return to Austria. There, he continued his studies on his own and was awarded his ordination in absentia by the faculty in August 1938.
Dr. Weinberg was concerned by the possibility of an impending German invasion of Austria, and feared for his safety not only as a Jew but also as a political personage. By December 1937, he and his brother fled to Czechoslovakia, leaving behind all their possessions; he was right, as the Anschluss followed that March. His parents fled to Swizterland, also losing the family home and possessions.
In Czechoslovakia, at the time of the Nazi invasion, he was arrested by the Gestapo and temporarily held in a concentration camp. He was released at the outbreak of the invasion of Poland and was expelled to the new lines with the Soviets at Przmysl. From there, he went to Lwow, Poland, where he again met with his brother. They headed east, on foot and freight train, just in advance of the German onslaught in 1941, stopped in Stalingrad, and moved on to Frunze(now Bishkek) in Kirghiz, Central Asia. They supported themselves through this time by odd jobs and work as chemical engineers, a training they had acquired themselves while in Czechoslovakia and Poland; he hid any documents which would have shown his political connections or training as a Rabbi, since he understood that any politically suspect figures were sent to Siberia or imprisoned.
At the end of the war, the two brothers were able to make their way back to Vienna, where they tried to reestablish themselves. At that time, Dr. Weinberg served as an educator in the DP camps in Hallein and the region of Salzburg, Austria, establishing a University for the refugees.
In 1948, he was called to served as the first Landesrabbiner of Hesse in Germany and as Chairman of the Union of Rabbis of Germany. His service in Frankfurt was recorded in a book, "Neunhundret Jahre Muttergemeinde in Israel-Frankfurt am Mein" by Paul Arnsberg and in a recent monograph by Prof. Y. M. Bodeman in "Menora:Jahrbuch fuer Judische Geschichte .1995"
He came to the United States of America in 1951, where he served as a Rabbi to several congregations in the northeastern regions of the country and was a member of the Rabbinical Assembly of America. He passed away March 16, 1976.
Documents from his activities and writings both before and after World War II are in the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
There also is a Bibliographic Online Catalog