Soldiering for Freedom: A GI's Account of World War II
Recorded on November 17, 2005
Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium
Only a small percentage of the sixteen million servicemen called
up during World War II saw front-line service. For the others, war
involved training, reinforcement depots, tedious assignments, and
lots of waiting. Herman J. Obermayer was one of those who earned a
combat star without ever coming close enough to a battlefront to
hear or see booming guns. Nonetheless, his reflective and observant
letters then, and his commentary on them now, reveal important
aspects of the war and the wartime world.
One of the few people alive today to have seen Hermann Goering,
Rudolf Hess, and other leaders of the Third Reich, he wrote
compellingly about the Nazis on trial at Nuremberg, describing
Goering's leadership qualities even when stripped of the symbols of
rank. A Jew himself, Obermayer explained his reactions at the
trials when he witnessed the first documentary confirmation that
six million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust.
His book is a welcome look at what went on beneath the surface and
an engrossingly human story of war behind the lines.
HERMAN J. OBERMAYER was born and raised in Philadelphia. After
a successful career as a journalist and as the editor-publisher of
two daily newspapers, he enjoyed a second career as a newspaper
management consultant in countries emerging from communism.