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Andrew Dahl, MD
This presentation is a true tale that is more remarkable than fiction. It concerns idealism, love of family, bravery and determination.
It is the extraordinary story of my uncle Günter Oppenheim’s life from his birth in 1920, the third child of a Jewish family in a small German town, until the day, immediately after the German surrender in May, 1945, when he drove hundreds of miles through the Russian-occupied zone in Germany and Czechoslovakia to reach Theresienstadt concentration camp to search for his mother, my grandmother, hoping to find her alive.
During those 25 years of major political upheaval, he was sent away from home at age 15 for a retail textile apprenticeship and then, at age 17, was placed on a ship from Germany to come to the USA by himself, where his parents felt he could have the opportunity to have a productive and fulfilling life. H Günter did not know English and had $ 150 in his pocket,
After becoming a US citizen in 1942, Günter immediately enlisted in the Army as a private. Trained in Army Intelligence a as one of the “Ritchie Boys”, he served as an interrogator of German POWs, working himself up the ranks to become a Master Sergeant with the “SUPER 6th” Armored Division.
After his division was taken over by the Third Army under General George Patton in mid-1944, Günter became a jeep driver for Patton and fought in the Ardennes, in the Allied counteroffensive to stop the German advance during the Battle of the Bulge, crossed the Siegfried Line and rolled into Germany with Patton across the Rhine on March 25, 1945. He was commissioned as an officer in the field by General Dwight Eisenhower after this campaign and received a bronze star for bravery. Günter was part of the “SUPER 6th” which liberated 80,000 Jews and other political prisoners at the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945. Germany surrendered three weeks later.
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