WEATHERLY — Getting a numbered tattoo was a “passport to life” said Severin Fayerman, a survivor of the Holocaust, as he addressed a packed audience during second annual1940s Weekend at Eckley Miners’ Village Saturday.
Those who were not tattooed were taken to the gas chamber, he said.
Fayerman’s first-hand account of surviving several different concentration camps during World War II, added a dose of seriousness to the weekend.
The two-day event paints a picture encompassing both World War I and II, plus the various local war efforts.
Kristen Bogash, summer events coordinator for Eckley Miners’ Village, said the event is one of the most popular at the village.
Throughout the village, volunteers dressed in period clothing and were eager to discuss what life was like in the era.
Stephanie Tarullo, 26, and her brother, Stephen Petchel, 15, both of Hazleton, were amazed to hear Fayerman’s story.
“You read about the Holocaust, but to see someone who survived is amazing,” Tarullo said.
Petchel agreed noting it was impressive to hear how Fayerman survived and then was able to be reunited with his family in Austria.
Fayerman will hold another presentation today at 2 p.m.
American and German soldiers walked Main Street of Eckley. Ladies wearing 1940s-styled dresses and white gloves added a touch of glamour to the site.
Bogash said during WWII thousands of local miners were exempt from the draft since coal mining was seen as essential fuel for the war effort. Women began to work in factories and food and materials were rationed.
The war came close to home, Bogash said.
“Stuart Tanks were being made in Berwick,” she said. “The German’s looked at bombing Berwick to destroy the tank’s manufacturing source.”
Tom McLaughlin, of the Berwick Stuart Tank Committee, had a display along Main Street. He explained the Stuart Tanks could travel at a maximum speed of 35 mph where other tanks at the time could only travel 10 mph.
The Stuart Tank factory, which operated from 1939 to 1944 produced 15,224 tanks , employing 9,135 people from 177 different municipalities.
Rationing was a way of life during the 1940s as families stretched food and clothing. Mary Grace DiGennari said sometimes the thread from feed sacks were picked out and used in quilting.
Food rations aided in the recipe of Victory Cakes. Victory Cakes, were a combination of what was left in the kitchen, Bogash said. Samples were available for attendees to try.