My book The Soldier, the Avatar, and the Holocaust: WWII Germany, January-May 1945 launched last week at a very special event. (It’s now available on Amazon and Kindle.) Last week Kelly and I went to Albany, NY, to attend the annual reunion of the 42nd Rainbow Division, the army unit featured in The Soldier, the Avatar, and the Holocaust: WWII Germany, January-May 1945. It was the unit in which my father served as a very young man. The Division, created for WWI, has met every year since 1918, breaking only for the years of WWII. One of the primary purposes of the reunions was to provide a space where veterans could share their memories of the war. They were simply unwilling and actually unable to talk about the war with family members or friends or even therapists, but they could – and did – talk with one another. The reunions were their therapy.
I remember as a young child attending Rainbow reunions each year. It was our primary family vacation. This year, after nearly 100 years, the reunion was the last. There are so few WWII soldiers still alive and only two were at the reunion. Instead, the children of the WWII soldiers created a Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation (RDVF). Future annual meetings will be the board of that organization that now provides scholarships to descendents of WWI and WWII soldiers as well as members of the new New York National Guard 42nd Rainbow Division.
Kelly and I spent time with a number of the young 42nd soldiers, many of whom have already served in the Middle East and some who will be returning in the near future. They were passionate, powerful women and men who wear the rainbow patch proudly. My father would be pleased indeed…
WWII timeline: Found in The Soldier, the Avatar, and the Holocaust
Sept. 13, 1942. Battle of Stalingrad begins. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stalingrad
Sept. 14, 1930. Nazis become second largest political party in Germany. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/407190/Nazi-Party
Sept. 15, 1935. Nuremberg Laws enacted. Jews were defined as a separate race under “The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor.” http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/nurlaws.html
Sept 21, 1939. Ghettos established in German-occupied Poland. http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007706