Holocaust survivor shares triumphs and atrocities

Mar 1, 2023 | Communities

Holocaust survivor shares triumphs and atrocities


Senior Writer

In an exclusive Feb. 24 interview with The Alpine Mountaineer, Nazi Holocaust survivor Marian Novins, an 80-year-old Crestline resident, spoke candidly about some the atrocities committed against her family members and the triumphs shared by herself, friends and other relatives.

Novins came into this world on Jan. 7, 1943, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, as the daughter of a Jewish mother and Protestant father, Emil, who was a physical education professor at Philanthropin University in Frankfurt.

“My birth name was Marianne Stelzer, and I had a sister, Ilse, who was six years older than me. We were hiding in the basement of my grandfather Ernest’s three-story house in Frankfurt when my parents were taken. I was only 3 months old, and I never knew my parents because they were taken to a concentration camp. It was said that they died of natural causes, whatever natural causes were at that time. They may have starved to death.

“In 1936, my parents were proud to have their first daughter, Ilse. At that time, there were street riots all over Germany and one night they rounded up my grandfather and mother, who were taken to Dachau and Buchenwald.

“My grandfather Ernest was a famous sculptor who won an award at the World’s Fair in Paris for a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. Inscribed on it was, ‘Made by a German, not a Nazi.’”

Ilse at 6, Novins said, was baptized to prevent her from going to a concentration camp. “When Hitler came into power, that didn’t stop him. Nazi guards took her anyhow. Hitler wanted to know where her father was, and she said he was deceased.” When asked whether her sister was tortured at the camp, Novins said, “They pulled all of her fingernails out and she was covered from head to toe in blood.

“After liberation, my grandfather took me and my sister to a rehabilitation camp operated by the United Jewish Appeal. After they contacted my grandparents, we were able to obtain visas to board the S.S. Marine Perch, a refuge ship for German Jews, and sail for New York City, a voyage that took 10 or more days. When we docked at New York Harbor on June 25, 1946, we were met there by my grandfather’s mother and sister. I was 3-1/2 years old at the time. My grandfather told me to look for peace, to find God and forgive the Germans. He helped me find God.”

In 1962, Marian married Louis Novins, who is a member of the American Legion and Patriot Guard, who plays the bugle for fallen heroes at Riverside National Cemetery who do not have family to say goodbye to. Lou played the bugle for Stan Gabriel, husband of Ginger Gabriel, who is a writer for The Alpine Mountaineer.


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Holocaust survivor Marian Novins on her 50th wedding anniversary.

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Marian Novins (center) and her older sister are held by her grandfather, Ernest Stelzer, shortly after arriving in New York City in June 1946.

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A collection of family photos shows Marian’s mother (top left) and her father (middle left)

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Jewish German refugees aboard the S.S Marine Perch en route to New York.


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