Seventy Years Later, a Soldier’s Message Continues to Inspire

Timeless Truth Off 16

This week, I’ve decided to do something unusual—I have invited a guest writer to take my place. My guest is Sgt. Solly Landau, who served in the US Army during World War II.

I’ve never met Sgt. Landau, nor do I know who he is. However, after writing last week’s Ami article, I came across a letter he wrote in the KFHEC archives. The first thing I noticed was that the letter was written on captured Nazi stationery with an embossed swastika.

Sgt. Landau was among the American liberators. He personally witnessed the sheer destruction wrought by the war, the condition of the survivors and their efforts to rebuild—the issues discussed in our last few columns—and his letter brings these challenges to life.

The letter is dated July 8, 1945, and describes the plight of the few Jews left in the once-large communities of Frankfurt and nearby Offenbach. His experience in these two German cities provides a firsthand glimpse of the struggles of the survivors across Europe.

While looking for more information, I discovered a news article dated July 31, 1945. The article reports that the first Jewish services in more than seven years were held in Offenbach that day. Only 12 of the 1,700 attendees were Jewish; they were the only survivors of Offenbach’s Jewish population to return! The report states, “An American Army sergeant, Solly Landau, acted as rabbi.”

Perhaps some of our readers know more about Sgt. Landau. If anyone has information about him, please contact us at KFHEC.

Sgt. Landau had no idea that he was writing for posterity, but his concern and love for his fellow Jews are captured in his emotional account. I hope that all of you will take the time to read it; no doubt you will be as moved as I was.

About the author / 

Rabbi Sholom Friedmann

Rabbi Sholom Friedmann is a Talmid of Rabbi Leib Bakst זצ"ל, of Yeshivas Ateres Mordechai, Detroit, Michigan. After learning in the yeshivah and kollel, Rabbi Friedmann moved to the British colony of Gibraltar and studied in the Gateshead Kollel for three more years, at which time he received rabbinical ordination. From there, Rabbi Friedmann moved to London, England. In London, Rabbi Friedmann taught in the Menorah Grammar School, and was appointed the communal Rov of Kehilas Kol Yaakov, Edgware, London. Rabbi Friedmann was awarded Qualified Teaching Status by the British Board of Education in 2002, and a diploma in educational psychology by the Tavistock clinic (London) in 2006. In 2005, Rabbi Friedmann was accepted as a Fellow in Holocaust Education by the prestigious Imperial War Museum, London. Rabbi Friedmann relocated to New York in 2008 to become the Director of Zechor Yemos Olam, the Holocaust education division of Torah Umesorah. While occupying that position, Rabbi Friedmann created teaching materials, videos, and teacher training programs, including the ZYO Holocaust education fellowship program. In April 2012, Rabbi Friedmann was appointed as the director of the Amud Aish Memorial Museum. The museum founded by Elly Kleinman will carry on the legacy of holocaust history. For more info about when it is expected to open read this article.

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