Dr. 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.
Stern’s 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.