WWII Jewish Refugee to Share Experiences on March 24-25
Guy Stern, a German-born Jew forced in the 1930s by Nazi laws to flee to the U.S., only to return as a U.S. Military Intelligence officer, will share his story locally on March 24 and March 25.
He will speak on Sunday, March 24, at 3:30 p.m. during the annual Holocaust Commemoration service at Samuel Lutheran Church, located at the corner of 8th Street and Muskegon Ave., in Muskegon. On Monday, March 25, he will talk at 6:30 p.m. at the Spring Lake District Library, 123 E. Exchange St., in Spring Lake.
The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies-Muskegon. The Spring Lake Public Library, Muskegon Community College, and the Tri-Cities Historical Museum are co-sponsoring the second talk. For more information, contact Trynette Lottie-Harps at (231) 777-0589.
Born in Hildesheim, Germany, Stern was 13 years old when Germany passed the Nuremburg Laws, isolating the Jewish population from German life. Stern’s parents secured papers for his immigration to the U.S., where he stayed with family in St. Louis.
From 1940 to 1942, he studied at St. Louis University. Because he was not born in America, Stern could not join the U.S. Navy. He was sent to Kansas until the military decided what to do with him and other young men in similar situations. His odyssey led him to three years of army service and found him at Fort Ritchie, Maryland, where his skill as a native German speaker would help the Allied effort in Europe. As a sergeant in U.S. Military Intelligence, he took part in the Normandy invasion.
After World War II, he continued his studies at Hofstra University, then at Columbia University. While teaching at various American universities, he also accepted guest professorships at the Goethe Institute and the universities of Freiburg, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Potsdam, and Munich.
In 2017, Stern received the French Knight of the Legion of Honor medal. Presented by the French Consul General, the award was created by Napoleon in 1802 and is the highest honor the country can bestow upon those who achieved remarkable deeds for France. He was honored for his role in liberating the country during World War II.
His story, along with others, was told in author Bruce Henderson’s 2017 book Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler.
A Gathering of Healing and Solidarity
Watch the video below of the “Gathering of Healing and Solidarity” event held at the MCC Sturrus Technology Center on November 5, 2018.
Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies – Muskegon
PO Box 452
Muskegon MI 49440
Pastor Christopher Anderson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Mr. David Klemm
Muskegon Area Intermediate School District
Ms. Sarah Woycehoski
Rabbi Alan Alpert
Congregation B’nai Israel
Ms. Trynette Lottie-Harps
Muskegon Community College
Ms. Anna Alpert
Congregation B’nai Israel
In 1995 a Service of Commemoration was held at Samuel Lutheran Church in the city of Muskegon. Pastor Chris Anderson and Rabbi Alan Alpert gathered in the small Worship Center with 12 people in attendance. The service commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of the only remaining death camp, Auschwitz, and the many concentration camps spread throughout northern Europe and the murder of six million Jews and five million others because they were Slavs, Roma and Sinti, or their religious or political beliefs or their sexual orientation. The service also commemorated Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was murdered by the Nazis at Flossenburg prison on April 9, 1945 for his participation the attempt to assassinate Hitler.
It has been a remarkable 20 years bringing primary witnesses to the Holocaust, individuals who lived in Europe and were part of the Hitler Youth, scholars in Holocaust studies. Various organizations have shared their gifts of music: the Cammerata Singers under the direction of Floyd Farmer; the Muskegon Chamber Choir under the direction of David Wikman; area high school and middle school choirs and instrumental groups from Reeths-Puffer, North Muskegon, Mona Shores, Muskegon High School and a diverse group of individuals.
In an effort to provide for this organization’s work into the future, a partnership was forged with Muskegon Community College and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District. We moved from being the Shoah Remembrance Committee of Muskegon to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies–Muskegon, whose mission is: cultivating values to diffuse hate and encourage diversity.
The Center will provide opportunities to the Muskegon Community which result in:
- Education: The Muskegon Community learns, thinks critically and applies lessons learned from the Holocaust and genocide
- Commemoration: The Muskegon Community remembers and reflects upon the victims of the Holocaust and genocide
- Perpetuation: The Muskegon Community recognizes the ongoing importance of educating and commemorating beyond the immediacy of the victims of the Holocaust and genocide.
On June 11, 2015 the committee finalized the By-Laws and established its first board.