Revisiting my grandfather’s obituary:
But this is not Sidney’s first obituary. In May 1945 when he returned home from a four-month internment as a POW in Hitler’s Germany, the twenty-year old Sidney was surprised to find that his hometown Pennsylvania newspaper had published an account of his death at the hand of German troops during the Battle of the Bulge in December of the previous year. Considering that some 75,000 American soldiers did perish during that battle, that Sidney was in fact on the front lines, and that the German soldiers were reportedly under orders to take no prisoners, this was not an irrational conclusion; however, it turned out to be an erroneous one. Sidney was one of the lucky few who were captured, shipped to Germany and survived starvation, disease and Allied bombing of the prison camps until being liberated by General Patton’s army.
[…] Sidney’s father David Monas had first emigrated to the United States from Ukraine in 1913, primarily to avoid conscription in the Tsar’s army. David found work in a clothing factory, where he caught the attention of early union organizers due to his ability to communicate in Yiddish, Russian, and English. Following the 1917 revolution in Russia, David and his brother Harry traveled the long way via Japan and Siberia back to Ukraine, arriving in the midst of the Russian Civil War. David was promptly elected to the local soviet; but when the notoriously anti-Semitic White Army began to close in on their region, David, Harry and David’s new wife Eva emigrated/escaped once again to the United States. After an unsuccessful attempt to run a paint business in Brooklyn, David had a long and successful career as a union organizer and ultimately General Manager of the Pennsylvania Joint Board of the Amalgamated Shirt Workers.
I’ve been very lucky to live in a time of relative peace: going to war is not something I’ve ever had to worry about. I hope our child experiences the same. I hope every child, one day, can experience the same.