Paul Fairbrook was born into a Jewish family on August 21, 1923 in Berlin, Germany. His first ten years were spent in that country, but his father saw the writing on the wall and made arrangements for his young family to get out in 1932. First they made their way to France, and then to Palestine. Conditions there were difficult, and Paul’s father was not well-suited to life on the kibbutz, so they decided to find a new destination. The family was briefly in Slovenia, while Paul’s father sought a visa in the Netherlands; the rest of the family later took a train to meet him there, leading to a memorable moment in the grip of the Nazis. Fortune smiled on them then, and the family made its way to New York and passed through Ellis Island before taking up residence in New York City. Paul would work his way through high school there, and he was 18 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Even though he was classified as an “enemy alien” Paul would be inducted in the US Army, and he went on to basic training, excited and ready to do his part. Rather suddenly he was removed and taken to a new location, Camp Ritchie. The US military was intending to use Paul’s German language skills, and he became part of military intelligence. From there he was sent to PO Box 1142, a top secret camp where Paul and other German-speaking members of the US military translated German documents and prepared their overview of the German military, The Order of Battle of the German Army. This would enable the US army to know about the enemy’s composition and movements, a significant advantage on the battlefield in the final year of the war. Paul was proud of his service, and of his new nation, and that he was able to do his part to stop the Nazis, the same people who murdered some of his family in the Shoah. Paul’s story was included on 60 Minutes last year, and Crestwood students were lucky to zoom with Paul in the fall of 2021.
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