Walter Wolff was the son of a Jewish merchant family that fled their German home when the Nazis came to power and took refuge in Brussels, Belgium. On the eve of the German invasion, in May 1940, the family began its second escape. Their sixteen-month odyssey took them through the chaos of battle in France and the dangers of living clandestinely as Jews in occupied territory, before they finally boarded the notorious freighter SS Navemar in Cadiz, Spain, to be among the last Jewish refugees admitted to the United States before Pearl Harbor.
Within two years of his arrival in the States, Walter was ready to take the fight back to the Nazis as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Trained for the Intelligence Corps at Camp Ritchie, he was sent first to Italy and then to Germany and Austria, where he interrogated POWs for potential prosecution as war criminals at Nuremburg. At the same time, on his travels in Europe he returned to the confiscated properties of his extended family, throwing out the occupiers and reclaiming ownership. Telling the rousing story of a Jewish boy who fled persecution and returned to prosecute the Nazi oppressors, Walter Wolff’s daughter Nina has reconstructed these events from family lore and her father’s own cache of more than 700 wartime letters and 200 photographs, which he revealed to her shortly before he died.
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