Greenbaum, Don

Don Greenbaum was born March 10, 1925, in the suburbs outside Philadelphia.  He grew up in an observant Jewish family, dealing with the realities of the Great Depression and attending military school.  When the war came, Don was quickly inducted and sent into basic training.  He was assigned to an artillery unit – the 283rd Field Artillery Battalion.  The unit went overseas in a Liberty ship, and they spent a few months in Britain before crossing the Channel and landing at Utah Beach in the days after D-day.  That’s where Don’s odyssey began, and it took him through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.  As an artillery forward observer, it was Don’s job to call in artillery strikes as fire support for the infantry; as such he was not in the immediate front lines, but they were close and were often shelled in their own right, and Don himself was wounded and awarded the purple heart.  After they broke through the Siegfried Line and into Germany, the 283rd headed towards Munich; they were ordered to check on the small town of Dachau as they were in the vicinity.  What they saw there changed the trajectory of Don’s war and life; they played a role in the liberation of the infamous Dachau concentration camp, and Don witnessed firsthand the horrors of the Shoah.  Like many soldiers he came home ready to put it behind him, and to get on with his life, which he did.  He married and had a family and settled into the rhythms of postwar American life.  Later, Don became a dedicated educator in his own right; several years ago he connected with a Holocaust survivor by the name of Ernie Gross, who survived Dachau – the very camp Don helped to liberate.  Together the two of them have been bringing a message of tolerance to 1000s of students.  Crestwood students were able to connect with Don for a zoom interview in June 2021.