Zoni Weisz is a Dutch Sinto, Holocaust survivor, civil rights campaigner and florist.
Weisz was born on 4 March 1937 in The Hague as the oldest child of Jacoba and Johannes Weisz, a musician and instrument maker, who ran a music business in Zutphen. He had three siblings.
On 16 May 1944 raids targeting “gypsies” were carried out in the Netherlands, and Zoni Weisz and his family were to be sent to the police transit camp for Jews at Westerbork. Thanks to the help of a Dutch policeman, a member of the resistance against the National Socialists, Weisz succeeded in escaping to a different train, while the rest of his family were deported to Auschwitz and subsequently murdered either there or in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Weisz was able to reach his grandparents with whom he stayed until the end of the war.
Weisz then returned to school, successfully completing his studies before working as a floral assistant. He subsequently attended the horticultural college and applied successfully for a gardening apprenticeship at the Royal Dutch court.
After completing his qualifications he served in the military for two years in Suriname.
Following his return, Weisz worked for the well-known Dutch florist Georg Kirsch in Amsterdam and studied exhibition architecture and art history. In 1958 Weisz took over the business from Kirsch. He was internationally known for his exhibitions. He entered the Guinness Book of Records for the largest floral arrangement in the world.
Weisz worked for the Dutch Royal Family and represented the Dutch flower industry.
As a victim of National Socialism, Weisz is a member of both the Dutch and International Auschwitz Committees and keeps alive the memory of the Holocaust through a diverse array of activities. In January 2007 he was the main speaker at the opening of the exhibition The Holocaust against the Roma and Sinti and Present-day Racism in Europe, which was held at United Nations headquarters.
Weisz is a jury member for the European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma.
On 27 January, 2011 Zoni Weisz is the first representative of the Roma and Sinti to give a speech in front of the German Bundestag to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. He reflected on the liberation of Auschwitz and described his own personal experiences.
In 2016 he presented his biography in the form of an audiobook: The Good Life – Zoni Weisz narrates his biography (Verbrecher Verlag) – a varied portrait of an exceptional human being.