Small World: A Holocaust Survivor’s Story

Posted on by 0 comment

            Time passes and so many things are forgotten. So many stories go untold. So many lessons aren’t learned. That is why we must fight against the loss of our personal histories through time. It is only by passing on our stories, and our experiences, that future generations might benefit.

            When I was born there were still some living veterans of the Civil War. They are all gone. The last known First World War veteran died in 2012. And very soon, the last of the soldiers from the Second World War will be gone as well. However, their stories, their legacies, might continue through memoirs like ours, and that of Willie Glaser.

            Who is Willie Glaser, you ask? Good question! I didn’t know either until a short time ago, when my favorite cousin from Florida, Sue Meinstein, sent me a link. He was another WW2 veteran, who apparently grew up in the same small town in Germany as my dad. The story of his youth is preserved in a memoir entitled “The little tramp from Furth”. It is a beautifully written short book describing pre-WW2 German small-town life, through the eyes of a rather mischievous young man. This calm before the storm read is beautifully illustrated, with many historical photographs. A link is included below.

            While most of this memoir is about the relatively carefree days as a German youth, there is a section about his military furlough immediately after the war. He left his post with the First Polish Armored Division (Part of the BOAR, British Army of the Rhine), to visit his old home town of Furth Germany. He went home to seek out family and friends. He was directed to the office of the American Military Government. There he met with, to his surprise, an officer named Meinstein (my dad). They had played soccer together as children, attended the same school, and shared many similar experiences. Dad took good care of him, as they recalled memories from happier times. Willie and my father had such similar stories, both happy (youth) and then very sad (war and Holocaust). It was a bond they shared after the war, over some schnapps, at dad’s base house.  Willie also recalled something I had failed to put in our book. Another classmate of dad’s, at the Jewish Jr. High School, was Heinz Alfered Kissinger, whom later changed his name to Henry. Of course, Henry Kissinger was another German Jew, who spent his life in service of the United States. Look it up. Henry died last year at the age of 100.

            Sadly, during his visit Willie discovered that, as with our family, many of his relatives, including his parents, were victims of the Holocaust.

            After reading his story I wanted to contact Mr. Glaser. Sadly, though, Willie Glaser died in Canada, on New Year’s Eve 2023, at the age of 102 (about one week prior to this post). Fortunately, thanks to the written word, at least part of Willie’s life story will live on. Take a little time to review it. You will be glad you did.

EN_FU_JU_glaser_tramp (1).pdf

Here is Willie’s obituary as it appeared in The Canadian Jewish News.

Category: memoirs must read

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.