News, notes and follow-ups

Category: World War II

Moshe Landau, chief judge in 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial, dies at 99

Moshe Landau, chief judge in the 1961 trial of Nazi arch-criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, died Sunday in Jerusalem on the eve of the annual memorial day for the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the government said. He was 99.

Landau was an Israeli Supreme Court justice when he was picked to head the three-judge panel for the Eichmann trial. Eichmann, who was in charge of the Final Solution, the Nazi plan to kill the Jews of Europe, was kidnapped from Argentina in 1960 by Israel's Mossad spy agency. He was convicted and hanged.

Landau was an accomplished jurist by the time of the Eichmann trial. Born in Danzig, Germany, in 1912, he studied law at the University of London and moved to Palestine in 1933, 15 years before the state of Israel was created.

He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1953. In 1980, he was named chief justice, retiring in 1982. He was given the Israel Prize, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1991.

More later at

 -- Associated Press

Arnost Lustig, Holocaust survivor and novelist, dies at 84

LustigArnost Lustig, who escaped from a Nazi death transport and made the Holocaust the main theme of his novels, died Saturday. He was 84.

Lustig's death was confirmed by Jana Jelinkova, a spokeswoman for Prague's Kralovske Vinohrady university clinic. He had been battling cancer for five years.

His novels included "A Prayer for Katerina Horowitzova," ''Darkness Cast No Shadow" and ''Lovely Green Eyes."

Lustig was twice awarded the National Jewish Book Award and in 1994, he received a literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for exceptional accomplishment. In 2009, he was among the finalists for the Man Booker International Prize.

Born in Prague on Dec. 21, 1926, Lustig survived the Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi concentration camps before he escaped from a train that was transporting him to Dachau in 1945. The train's engine was destroyed by an American bomber.

When the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia crushed the liberal reforms of Alexander Dubcek and ended an era known as the Prague Spring in 1968, Lustig fled his homeland and, after a stay in Israel, became a professor at American University in Washington.

After the collapse of Communist rule, Lustig visited Prague on a regular basis and later returned to live there.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Arnost Lustig in 2008. Credit: Associated Press

Christian J. Lambertsen, who developed early scuba system, dies at 93

Christian J. Lambertsen, a scientist and doctor who invented an underwater breathing system used by the military in World War II and later coined the "scuba" acronym by which such systems are widely known, has died. He was 93.

He died Feb. 11 at his home in Newtown Square, Pa., outside Philadelphia, Stuard Funeral Directors Inc. said Monday.

Lambertsen, born May 15, 1917, earned a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University. He began working on his breathing apparatus, using parts of anesthesia machines, even before he enrolled as a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, according to medical school dean Arthur Rubenstein, who called him "one of our institution's most honored professors."

Lambertsen's background as a doctor, inventor and diver made him "the right man in the right place at the right time" for the development of an early version of the device later known as scuba or "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, according to a July biography in "The Year In Special Operations."

In 1941, Lambertsen worked with the Army's Office of Strategic Services to establish special underwater forces deployed in Burma, and later worked with the Navy to train surface frogmen to become divers. During this service, Rubenstein said, Lambertsen made the first exit from and reentry into a submerged submarine, marking the beginning of modern underwater demolition teams.

Back at the University of Pennsylvania, he converted an abandoned altitude chamber into a laboratory for the study of undersea and aerospace environmental physiology. In 1968, he established the Institute for Environmental Medicine, which has studied oxygen toxicity, diving-related diseases and the effects of hypoxic response in humans, exploring how humans can live in hostile environments from the oceans to space and in extreme temperatures.

Lambertsen retired as institute director in 1987 but continued his research as a professor emeritus, studying how high-pressure oxygen therapy can help in treatment of diseases. In 1992, he patented inergen, a fire-suppression product now used in commercial buildings but developed initially to extinguish fires in submarines and spacecraft, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Among his many honors are the highest civilian awards from the Department of Defense and Coast Guard. In 2000, Navy SEALS proclaimed him "the father of U.S. combat swimming."

Lambertsen is survived by sons Christian, David, Richard, Bradley and six grandchildren.

-- Associated Press

Ed Mauser of ‘Band of Brothers’ dies at 94

Ed Mauser, a member of the "Band of Brothers" who fought in some of World War II's fiercest European battles, shunned the limelight and kept his service with the Army unit a secret, even from some of his family members.

His role came to light only after his brother-in-law got him a copy of the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," said Terry Zahn, who met Mauser during a 2009 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial.

Mauser told his family that some details in the miniseries, such as the locations of buildings, weren't quite what he remembered from being there in person.

Mauser died Friday in Omaha. He was 94 and had been fighting pancreatic cancer, said Zahn, president of the Midwest chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Assn. Mauser had been the oldest living member of Easy Company.

Born Dec. 18, 1916, in LaSalle, Ill., Mauser was drafted in 1942 and volunteered for the 101st Airborne Division.

He was assigned to Company E, 506th Regiment -- Easy Company -- which participated in the D-day invasion of France and the follow-up Operation Market Garden. The 101st also helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Easy Company leader Dick Winters for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers," upon which the HBO miniseries was based. Winters died earlier this month at age 92. The miniseries followed Easy Company from its training in Georgia to the war's end in 1945. 

Mauser was not among the soldiers portrayed in the miniseries.

Zahn said Mauser kept his service a secret, even from his relatives. After it became known, he reunited with some of his Army buddies and made a few public appearances. He preferred to stay out of the limelight.

"Don't call me a hero," Mauser told the Lincoln Journal Star in 2009. "I was just one of the boys. I did what I was told and let's leave it at that."

-- Associated Press

Tullia Zevi, leader in Italy’s Jewish community, dies at 91

Zevi Tullia Zevi, a pillar of Italy's Jewish community and an ardent anti-fascist who spent the war years in exile in Switzerland, France and the U.S., died Saturday. She was 91.

Zevi, the only female president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, died in Rome, current union president Renzo Gattegna said.

One of four children of a bourgeois Jewish family, Zevi was vacationing with her parents in Switzerland in 1938 when Italy passed its racial laws. The family, known for her father's anti-fascist beliefs, moved to France and later the United States.

She returned to Italy in 1946 and worked as a journalist as well as with various center-left political parties.

In a biographical article she wrote in 1999, Zevi said she returned because she wanted to help Italy and its Jews rebuild after the war.

"The horrors of the war had just been discovered; the mass extermination of the Jews, the gypsies and political opponents, the devastation of Jewish communities," she wrote.

"It seemed right, having had the fortune of having survived, to return and participate in the reconstruction of this traumatized community in chaos, and also to participate in the rebirth of democracy in Italy following the defeat of fascism."

She headed the Union of Italian Jewish Communities from 1983 to 1998, and even after remained active in the Jewish community, frequently commenting in the media about Jewish-Vatican relations in particular.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Tullia Zevi in 1996



Ed Chlapowski, whose radio message alerted the world to Pearl Harbor attack, dies at 88

Ed Chlapowski, the man who notified the world that Pearl Harbor was being bombed by the Japanese, has died. He was 88.

The former Navy radio man's family said he died Sunday at his home in Billings, Mont., a few weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

In 2009, Chlapowski recounted the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Hawaii that propelled the United States into World War II.

He said he had worked an early watch at the submarine base on Oahu, had breakfast and had just sat down on his bunk when he looked out the window and saw a hangar roof blown away. Then he saw the Japanese planes.

Chlapowski says he ran to the radio room. A supervisor handed him a message, and in Morse code, he sent out word that Pearl Harbor was under attack.

-- Associated Press

Dick Winters of 'Band of Brothers' fame dies at 92

Winters Richard "Dick" Winters, the Easy Company commander whose World War II exploits were made famous by the book and television miniseries "Band of Brothers," died last week in central Pennsylvania. He was 92.

Winters died after a several-year battle with Parkinson's disease, longtime family friend William Jackson said Monday.

An intensely private and humble man, Winters had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral, Jackson said. Winters lived in Hershey, Pa., but died in suburban Palmyra.

The men Winters led expressed their admiration for their company commander after learning of his death.

William Guarnere, 88, said what he remembers about Winters was "great leadership."

"When he said 'Let's go,' he was right in the front," Guarnere, who was called "Wild Bill" by his comrades, said Sunday night from his South Philadelphia home. "He was never in the back. A leader personified."

Another member of the unit living in Philadelphia, Edward Heffron, 87, said thinking about Winters brought a tear to his eye.

"He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under," said Heffron, who had the nickname "Babe" in the company. "He was a wonderful officer, a wonderful leader. He had what you needed, guts and brains. He took care of his men, that's very important."

Winters was born Jan. 21, 1918, and studied economics at Franklin & Marshall College before enlisting, according to a biography on the Penn State website.

Winters became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy.

During that invasion, Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach. In September 1944, he led 20 men in a successful attack on a German force of 200 soldiers. Occupying the Bastogne area of Belgium at the time of the Battle of the Bulge, he and his men held their place until the Third Army broke through enemy lines, and Winters shortly afterward was promoted to major.

After returning home, Winters married his wife, Ethel, in May 1948, and trained infantry and Army Ranger units at Fort Dix during the Korean War. He started a company selling livestock feed to farmers, and he and his family eventually settled in a farmhouse in Hershey, where he retired.

Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Winters for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers," upon which the HBO miniseries that started airing in September 2001 was based. Winters himself published a memoir in 2006 called "Beyond Band of Brothers."

-- Associated Press

Photo: Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters in 1945. Credit: Associated Press / Courtesy of retired Sgt. Maj. Herman W. Clemens


Fred Hargesheimer, World War II pilot who gave back to Pacific islander rescuers, dies at 94

Fred Hargesheimer, a World War II Army pilot whose rescue by Pacific islanders led to a life of giving back as a builder of schools and teacher of children, died Thursday morning in Lincoln, Neb. He was 94.

Richard Hargesheimer said his father had been suffering from poor health.

On June 5, 1943, Hargesheimer, a P-38 pilot with the 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, was shot down by a Japanese fighter while on a mission over the Japanese-held island of New Britain in the southwest Pacific. He parachuted into the trackless jungle, where he barely survived for 31 days until found by local hunters.

They took him to their coastal village and for seven months hid him from Japanese patrols, fed him and nursed him back to health from two illnesses. In February 1944, with the help of Australian commandos working behind Japanese lines, he was picked up by a U.S. submarine off a New Britain beach.

After returning to the U.S. following the war, Hargesheimer, a native of Rochester, Minn., got married and began a sales career with a Minnesota forerunner of computer maker Sperry Rand, his lifelong employer. But he said he couldn't forget the Nakanai people, who he considered his saviors.

The more he thought about it, he later said, "the more I realized what a debt I had to try to repay."

After revisiting the village of Ea Ea in 1960, he came home, raised $15,000 over three years, "most of it $5 and $10 gifts," and then returned with 17-year-old son Richard in 1963 to contract for the building of the villagers' first school.

In the decades to come, Hargesheimer's U.S. fundraising and determination built a clinic, another school and libraries in Ea Ea, renamed Nantabu, and surrounding villages.

In 1970, their three children grown, Hargesheimer and his wife, Dorothy, moved to New Britain, today an out-island of the nation of Papua New Guinea, and taught the village children themselves for four years. The Nantabu school's experimental plot of oil palm even helped create a local economy, a large plantation with jobs for impoverished villagers.

On his last visit, in 2006, Hargesheimer was helicoptered into the jungle and carried in a chair by Nakanai men to view the newly found wreckage of his World War II plane. Six years earlier, on another visit, he was proclaimed "Suara Auru," "Chief Warrior" of the Nakanai.

"The people were very happy. They'll always remember what Mr. Fred Hargesheimer has done for our people," said Ismael Saua, 69, a former teacher at the Nantabu school.

"These people were responsible for saving my life," Hargesheimer told the Associated Press in a 2008 interview. "How could I ever repay it?"

Besides Richard, of Lincoln, Hargesheimeris survived by another son, Eric, of White Bear Lake, Minn., and a daughter, Carol, of Woodbury, Minn.; a sister, Mary Louise Gibson of Grass Valley, Calif.; and eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

-- Associated Press

Dov Shilansky, Israeli advocate of Holocaust victims, dies at 86

Dov Dov Shilansky, a former Israeli parliament speaker and advocate for memorializing the victims of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II, has died. He was 86.

Shilansky died Thursday at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, parliament spokesman Giora Pordes told the Associated Press.

The diminutive politician with an unruly thatch of white hair was known for his hard-line political views alongside an easygoing manner and ready smile.

From 1988 to 1992, Shilansky served as speaker of the parliament. In 1993, he was the Likud candidate for the ceremonial post of president, losing an election in the parliament to Ezer Weizman, a popular ex-air force commander.

Possibly his longest-lasting legacy is a ceremony that has become part of Israel's observance of an annual memorial day for the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Concerned that the huge number was incomprehensible, in 1989 he got fellow lawmakers to stand at a podium in the parliament building and read names of victims.

The custom, known as "Every Person Has a Name," quickly spread to public squares all over Israel. After retiring from politics, Shilansky served on the board of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial authority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a political ally, said that with Shilansky's passing, Israel lost one of its most dedicated and exemplary leaders.

"The story of his life is the story of our people," he said Thursday.

Born in Lithuania, Shilansky immigrated to Israel in 1948 after years of activism in a hard-line Jewish movement. He was a lawyer by training and was first elected to parliament for the hawkish Likud Party in 1977. Later he was appointed a deputy minister in Prime Minister Menachem Begin's government.

Before arriving in Israel, he was a commander in the Jewish underground movement Etzel in Germany and Italy. He arrived in Israel aboard the Altalena, a ship carrying tons of arms illegally to the Etzel militia. Etzel, also known as Irgun, was headed by Begin in Israel. It was disbanded when the state of Israel was set up.

Shilansky fought in the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948-49. In 1952, Shilansky was arrested for carrying explosives into the Foreign Ministry building in Tel Aviv to try to disrupt Israeli-German negotiations for a reparations agreement after the Holocaust. That reflected extreme displeasure of his and Begin's Herut party, an outgrowth of Etzel, to any dealings with Germany.

Shilansky was sentenced to two years in prison.

Shilansky is survived by two children, according to Pordes. Another son died in 1974 while serving in the Israeli army.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Dov Shilansky in an undated photo. Credit: Associated Press

One year ago: Bob Keane


Bob Keane was the founder of West Coast independent label Del-Fi Records and is best known for discovering and recording rock legend Ritchie Valens. He died one year ago at age 87.

Keane, a clarinet player who led his own 18-piece orchestra when he was a teenager, discovered Valens in 1958 when the singer and guitar player was 17. Keane invited Valens to record demos and helped smooth  some of his rough edges. Then he took Valens' music mainstream.

"The key in those days was to get the [radio] jocks," Keane said. "We took care of them, made friends with them. I took Ritchie out on hops for free. That way, the jocks could charge a head charge and made some dough, then they'd turn around and play our records."

The result was several Billboard chart songs, including "Come On, Let's Go," peaking at No. 42,"Donna” at No. 2 and “La Bamba” at No. 22.

Valens was killed in a plane crash in Iowa in 1959 that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

Keane later had success in the '60s with the Bobby Fuller Four, which recorded "I Fought the Law" and other songs for Keane's Mustang Records.

He served in the Army Air Forces during World War II and afterward ran his own TV variety show on Channel 2 in Los Angeles.

For more on his life and career, read Bob Keane's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Bob Keane, at right with Ritchie Valens, is credited with discovering and nurturing the young Latino musical sensation. Credit: Del-Fi Records

Jan Wiener, who fought in Britain's air force after fleeing Nazis, dies at 90

Wiener Jan Wiener, a Czech Jew who fought in the British air force during World War II after fleeing Nazis in Germany and Czechoslovakia, has died. He was 90.

Wiener died Wednesday at Prague's military hospital, said Jiri Pehe, director at Prague's branch of New York University. The cause of death was not given.

His family fled Hitler's Germany for Prague, but Wiener found himself on the run again after Czechoslovakia was occupied by Nazi troops.

He managed to escape to Britain through Yugoslavia and Italy, where he was captured, to join the Royal Air Force's No. 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron.

Wiener's father committed suicide to avoid ending up in the hands of the Nazis. His mother died in the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp north of Prague.

After the Communists took over Czechoslovakia in 1948, Wiener spent five years in communist prisons, a fate shared by many of his colleagues because they were considered the enemies of the communist state.

Wiener was born May 26, 1920, in Hamburg, Germany, to a Czech-German Jewish family. He settled in the United States in the mid-1960s and became professor of history at the American University in Washington.

After the collapse of communism, he returned to his homeland on a regular basis and became a guest lecturer at Prague's branch of New York University.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Jan Wiener in 2009. Credit: Associated Press

One year ago: Nao Takasugi

Takasugi Nao Takasugi was a Republican state Assemblyman, an Oxnard mayor and held an MBA. He also was sent with his family to an internment camp during World War II. Takasugi died one year ago at age 87.

At the internment camp, he earned $16 a month as a Spanish and business tutor, he told The Times in 2003, and his family ate slices of Spam for a "Sunday treat."

He left the camp after several months when a Quaker organization offered Takasugi the chance to complete his business degree (which he began at UCLA) at Temple University in Philadelphia.

His career success dissuaded him from dwelling on the negative internment camp experience.

"I don't feel angry anymore," he told the Ventura County Star in 2002. "In spite of all the shortcomings of this country, it's still a great country. Where else can you come from a concentration camp and become the mayor?"

For more, read Nao Takasugi's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Nao Takasugi. Credit: Alan Hagman / Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Profiles of military personnel killed in Iraq
and Afghanistan.


Lives in Pictures »

Search Paid Obituaries »

First Name
Last Name
Powered by ©

Yesterday's Obituaries