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Oral history interview with Gerald Silver

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.85.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0756

Gerald Silver, born on April 26, 1923 in Brownsville, New York, discusses his family’s background and his childhood growing up in a culturally-rich atmosphere; his fluency in Yiddish; his family’s Jewish background and religious views; following current events in the newspapers; graduating high school in 1940 and working various jobs; being drafted in February or March 1943 and his initial training in the 397th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, working with 40 mm anti-aircraft gun; his experiences in Chicago, IL during his training; not experiencing antisemitism before going to Europe; arriving in Glasgow and then Wales for further training around April 1944; being transferred to the 16th Infantry; his experiences crossing the English Channel, during which a friend (Jimmy Speridegus) died because of an attack from a German U-boat; landing as part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944; the chaos on the beach and being hit by shrapnel in the leg and arm; his efforts to help other wounded soldiers; making it to the seawall despite his wounds; helping others get to the wall and getting gas masks to other soldiers; receiving a letter of commendation for his action in lieu of a Bronze Star and promotion (both were denied him by an officer with an antisemitic attitude); his and other soldiers’ opinions about the invasion; his emotional reactions to films such as The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan; his temporary work as a beach master; confronting a group of German prisoners of war on the beach; rejoining his unit; Passover services in a Venlo, Netherlands convent where the nuns had been hiding Jewish men in the basement; his brief visit to Dachau after its liberation; his time in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria as part of the occupying forces; his return to New York in late 1945; how the war affected him personally; his marriage in 1951; and his postwar life and work.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Gerald Silver
Ina Navazelskis
interview:  2014 June 19
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:27:46
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