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US Army patch that belonged to a German Jewish refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2009.365.3

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    US Army patch that belonged to a German Jewish refugee

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Military patch that may have belonged to Hans Wachtel, who served in the United States Army from 1942-1945. It resembles a standard army rank patch for a Master Sergeant that has been trimmed. Hans and his family had left Nazi Germany in 1937 after the shoe factory owned by his father, Max, in Erfurt, Germany, was confiscated because he was Jewish. Max was able to get immigration visas for the US and on May 14, 1938, 16 year old Hans, his parents, and his sister sailed from Hamburg on the President Roosevelt. Hans volunteered for the U.S. Army on May 14, 1941. He was trained to interrogate German POWs and to go undercover behind enemy lines. On June 18, 1944, Hans landed in Normandy as part of the 6th Armored Division. On April 11, 1945, the 6th Armored Division liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. Hans was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in May and was honorably discharged later that year.
    Date
    issue:  approximately 1943
    emigration:  1938 May 14
    Geography
    issue: United States
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Andrea K. Wolf and Thomas M. Wolf
    Contributor
    Subject: Hans J. Wachtel
    Biography
    Hans Joseph Wachtel was born in Erfurt, Germany, on December 27, 1922. He was the youngest child of Max Wachtel and Erna Bielschowsky Wachtel. Both his parents had been born in Erfurt: Max was born on June 17, 1884; Erna on May 4, 1890. They were married on December 25, 1910. The family had lived in Germany since the Middle Ages. Max owned a factory which manufactured heels for shoes. During WWI, Max served in the German Army for four years and was decorated with the Iron Cross. The family belonged to a Conservative synagogue. Ilsolotte, the eldest daughter, was born on November 11, 1911 and her younger sister, Ursula, was born on January 1, 1915. Ursula graduated from a local high school in 1933 and attended university in Berlin, but her education was interrupted and she didn't graduate, due to the Nazi race laws. She returned to Erfurt in 1936 and attended a beautician school. Ilsolotte left Germany, around 1938, for Norway, to work as a governess; she later married there. Hans experienced considerable cruelty in his school in Erfurt. He was bullied and beaten up before and after school for being Jewish. The situation became unbearable in 1935, and his parents sent Hans to Florence, Italy, to attend high school. His grandmother and aunt lived in Capri, Italy.

    In 1937, Max's factory was confiscated. He was able to arrange for U.S. immigration visas with sponsorship from relatives in Cincinnati, Ohio. On May 14, 1938, Max, Erna, Ursula, and Hans sailed from Hamburg, Germany, to New York on the President Roosevelt, arriving on May 21, 1938. They settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Max started a landscaping business; Erna worked as a seamstress and Ursula as a beautician. On May 14, 1941, Hans, aged 18, volunteered for the U.S. Army. He served in military camps in Missouri, Kansas, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. On September 20, 1943, Hans graduated from the Military Intelligence Training Center in Camp Ritchie, Maryland. The courses included methods of interrogation of German POWs and to perform undercover work behind enemy lines. In May 1944, Hans shipped out to England and served in the 6th Armored Division under the command of Maj. Gen. Robert W. Grow. The "Super Sixth" landed on the Normandy beaches on June 18, 1944, six weeks after the D-Day invasion of Western Europe. The unit crossed the Rhine River and quickly moved into central Germany. In August 1944, they captured more than 5,000 German soldiers. On April 11, 1945, the 6th Armored Division liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. The Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the U.S. Army's Center for Military History and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985. Hans was awarded the Bronze Star Medal on May 21, 1945, for meritorious service in military operations in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. He obtained valuable information that assisted combat to advance by serving as an interrogator of enemy prisoners. Hans was discharged from the Army in 1945.
    Hans enrolled at the University of Cincinnati (U.C.) through the GI bill, where he studied landscape architecture. He later taught design and metal sculpture at U.C. His metal sculptures are in many public places and private homes in Ohio and in surrounding states. He married three times and had four step-children from his third marriage. He died in Cincinnati, OH, at the age of 66 in 1988. His sister, Ursula, married Herbert Wolf, a fellow refugee from Freiburg, Germany, on March 23, 1947, and they have two children. Ilsolotte married Hans Dalen in Olso, Norway, and they have three children.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Military Insignia
    Category
    Badges
    Physical Description
    Shield-shaped, black cloth patch with 3 olive green embroidered rockers at the bottom and 1 chevron at the top.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 4.125 inches (10.478 cm) | Width: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cloth, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The military patch was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 by Andrea Wolf and Thomas Wolf, the niece and nephew of Hans Wachtel.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 21:51:08
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn40040

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