Some­day You Will Under­stand: My Father’s Pri­vate World War II

  • From the Publisher
May 18, 2015

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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