Robert (Bob) Grossman was born in Philipsberg, Pennsylvania. He recalls his Jewish upbringing as very Orthodox. His community had a hard time keeping a rabbi, but he was formally bar mitzvahed. He graduated at 16 from Lock Haven High and studied toward a BS in Economics at the U Penn Wharton School. When he was 18, he was drafted as part of a general draft.
He was sent to Europe for formal army training, and after the Battle of the Bulge, he was in Germany. He remembers that the soldier’s dog-tag ids included their religion, but there were not many Jews in his surroundings, nor any anti-Semitism.
In April 1945, his unit was stopped at the Salzweidel, German concentration camp for about 10 minutes. Prior to this, Bob never saw, only heard stories of various camps. What he witnessed were hundreds of malnourished people, mostly women, wrapped around the barbed wire. The people were not yet freed. They all screamed. He cannot recall words, as they were not in English. The prisoners were wearing tattered clothing, but not striped uniforms. There were corpses piled up. Then his unit was ordered to move on. Bob later learned what happened and why these people were there from his unit book.
After the war, Bob returned to college, graduated, and worked for his family’s business. He sold the business and retired at age 52, devoting himself to a variety of pursuits, including Jewish causes like converting his congregation to Reform Judaism. Bob has a very powerful message about patriotism and duty.