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.