Eric Mayer was born in 1928 in the city of Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany. He lived with his parents Moritz and Irma and his older brother Fred and sister Ruth. Until he was 11 years old, he grew up safe and happy in Worms, ensconced in a family of formidable accomplishments. As children they lived through the Nazi terror of Kristallnacht in Worms.
Throughout Germany, on November 9 & 10, 1938, Nazi paramilitary forces and German civilians torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and business and killed Jews. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after windows were smashed.
In January 1939, Eric and his siblings were sent to France and were taken in by cousins, where they moved from Alsace to Burgundy, to Vichy and in July 1941, moved to a small village in southwest France. In November 1942, at the age of 14, Eric became a messenger for the French Resistance until liberation of the area in July 1944. Eric came to the US in September 1947 and married his wife Edith. Both Eric and Edith are survivors of murdered parents.
When asked about his motivation to get involved with WJM, Eric stated that “he is very proud of his family and his Judaism. Without the people who took a stand for me and my siblings, we may have not survived the Holocaust. I have an inordinate feeling of indebtedness to them that I can never repay, even if I live to be the age of Moses.”
To pay back that debt, Mr. Mayer devotes himself to activism, advocacy for the remaining heroes and victims of the Holocaust and their descendants, and education about its horrors and the truths of human nature – including the good ones – that it revealed.
“I am very proud of the contributions the Jewish people have made in every conceivable field over the last 3500 years and this remarkable story must be told to future generations of Jews and non-Jews.”
At age 91, Eric Mayer is still actively involved in many institutions and works for many world wide initiatives, especially in the areas of human rights, education and health in the U.S., South Africa, Kenya, Costa Rica, India and Morroco.