The Holiday Gift Auction is Live! Click here and bid now on great local gifts!
State

Holocaust survivor talks about heroism

Holocaust survivor Walter Reed speaks at the Rotary Club of Quincy meeting Tuesday in Quincy. As a young teenager, Reed was jailed on Kristallnacht in 1938. Reed told the crowd of the "heroes" from both within Germany and neighboring countries who helped thousands of Jewish children escape the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.
Holocaust survivor Walter Reed speaks at the Rotary Club of Quincy meeting Tuesday in Quincy. As a young teenager, Reed was jailed on Kristallnacht in 1938. Reed told the crowd of the "heroes" from both within Germany and neighboring countries who helped thousands of Jewish children escape the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

QUINCY – Walter Reed’s matter-of-fact tone did not seem to provide his soft-spoken proclamation its proper justice.

“I am a dying breed, a Holocaust survivor,” he said.

Reed, who lives in Wilmette, was addressing a hushed luncheon crowd of about 100 at the Downtown Rotary Club on March 26.

He is active in Rotary International and a member of the Speakers Committee of the Illinois Holocaust Education Foundation.

Reed, 89, told the crowd of the “heroes” from both within Germany and neighboring countries who helped thousands of Jewish children escape the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

Like many Jewish families in Germany at the time, Reed’s parents helped him get out of the country as a member of the “Children of La Hille,” a Jewish children’s refugee colony.

On his own at age 14, Reed worked his way through an escape labyrinth that took him to Belgium, France, Switzerland and Portugal before he was able to emigrate to the United States.

He repeatedly praised those from other countries who helped the Jewish children escape – the United Kingdom took in 10,000 alone – and referred to them as the “heroes of the Holocaust.”

After he left his home village near Bavaria, Reed never saw his parents or two younger brothers again.

They were part of the 6.5 million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime, many in concentration camps where “3,000 to 4,000 a day, 365 days a year” were put to death, Reed said.

Reed eventually arrived in New York City in late 1941.

“I arrived about three months before Pearl Harbor,” he said.

In 1943, Reed was drafted into the U.S. Army and eventually landed in Normandy in June 1944.

He was assigned to military intelligence, interrogating German prisoners at the front with the 95th Infantry Division.

After the war, Reed helped the U.S.-led coalition “de-Nazify” the German government, then returned home and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia on the GI Bill, studying journalism.

Reed also sounded a warning.

“The atrocities, the bad ideas are [still] happening today, they are still being perpetuated,” said Reed, specifically mentioning the North Korean regime. “What is our role? What can we do to be heroes to these people?”

A retired public relations executive, Reed travels the nation talking about his experience.

He recently returned from a cycling trip in the Tyrolean Alps and is writing a book on “Heroes of the Holocaust.”

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.