Just because Ben Fainer was silent for 60 years doesn’t mean he has nothing to say.
Ripped from his home in Poland at age 9 by the Nazis, Fainer was separated from his family and sent from camp to camp to camp for six years until he was liberated by the American army in 1945, six years later. He made his way first to Ireland, where he stayed with relatives, then to Canada, and finally to St. Louis, where he spent decades in the garment industry.
Author Martin Goldsmith is no stranger to St. Louis: Not only was he born here, but his mother was a longtime violinist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. But it was a different St. Louis and a different family connection that recently caught his attention.
Friday marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. On that day, Allied forces began the push to end the European front of World War II by landing in Normandy, France. Thousands died that day. Those that survived are now in their 90s.
Two St. Louis area veterans, Clem Igel and Harris Gerhard, shared their stories on Thursday's St. Louis on the Air. The show also included George Despotis, who is collecting the oral histories of World War II veterans. Jefferson City veteran Richard Gibbler spoke with Marshall Griffin about his experiences.
This Friday will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day: the day 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, in a bid to invade Nazi-controlled territory on the western front. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers died that day in a battle that paved the way for Nazi surrender the following year. Many civilians and Resistance fighters were also involved.
At the close of World War II, Adolph Hitler committed suicide rather than face a world not shaped to his liking. So too did high-ranking Nazi officials Joseph Goebbel and Heinrich Himmler. But 23 of the leaders of the Third Reich remained alive to face justice for their crimes.
From November 1945 to October 1946, the world watched as the Allied forces tried 21 of those leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the background, unnoticed by most, was an army chaplain from St. Louis named Henry Gerecke.
When I saw that Tim Townsend had written a book centered on the Lutheran chaplain at the Nuremberg trials, I knew I would read it.
The Rev. Henry Gerecke ended his career in Chester, Ill. There he was assistant pastor of St. John Lutheran Church and the chaplain at the state prison and mental hospital. I graduated from the church’s grade school and relatives work at that prison.
But I have no personal memory of Gerecke. He died the year before we moved from the farm into town. And when we lived on the farm, we went another direction to church.
On January 29, 1944, the USS Missouri (BB-63) launched into the sea for the first time, the last battleship of her kind ever built. Harry S. Truman was a senator at the time, and his daughter Margaret christened the ship.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the Missouri, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh spoke with Michael Carr, president and COO of the USS Missouri Memorial Association and two St. Louis area residents who served aboard the ship. He also spoke with former U.S. Senator and First Lady of Missouri Jean Carnahan about the historic ship's silver.
On day two of the government shutdown, it continues to cause headaches, including for a group of Missouri and Kansas veterans that flew to Washington.
The nonprofit Heartland Honor Flight organized the trip and the closed National World War II Memorial was the first stop Wednesday. The group was met by many Missouri and Kansas lawmakers, who helped them get inside the memorial where barriers had been set up.
In September 1944, just nine days before his 23rd birthday, 1st Lt. Don Nicholson boarded the B-17 bomber known as “Little Chum” for a run over Germany. It was his 26th mission navigating the plane referred to as the "flying fortress."