Witness to the Storm

Witness to the Storm

A Jewish Journey from Nazi Berlin to the 82nd Airborne, 1920–1945
William Angress
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/01/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03913-2
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On June 6, 1944, Werner T. Angress parachuted down from a C-47 into German-occupied France with the 82nd Airborne Division. Nine days later, he was captured behind enemy lines and, concealing his identity as a German-born Jew, became a prisoner of war. Eventually, he was freed by US forces, rejoined the fight, crossed Europe as a battlefield interrogator, and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp. Although he was an American soldier, less than ten years before he had been an enthusiastically patriotic German-Jewish boy. Rejected and threatened by the Nazi regime, the Angress family fled to Amsterdam to escape persecution and death, and young Angress then found his way to the United States. In Witness to the Storm, Angress weaves the spellbinding story of his life, including his escape from Germany, his new life in the United States, and his experiences in World War II. A testament to the power of perseverance and forgiveness, Witness to the Storm is the compelling tale of one man's struggle to rescue the country that had betrayed him.

Author Bio

Werner T. Angress escaped from Nazi Germany in 1937 and served in World War II with the 82nd Airborne Division. Brave and resourceful, he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service. After the war, he had a distinguished career as a history professor in the United States, teaching for over 25 years. He chose to spend his retirement in Berlin, teaching schoolchildren about what it was like to grow up Jewish under the Third Reich and working to promote tolerance and peace. He was the author of Stillborn Revolution: The Communist Bid for Power in Germany and Between Fear and Hope: Jewish Youth in the Third Reich.



This is an extraordinary memoir, self-ironic and humane, dealing with one of the darkest chapters of twentieth-century history.


Konrad H. Jarausch, author of Out of Ashes A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century


This autobiography deserves to be placed next to Victor Klemperer's I Will Bear Witness as a vivid account of the Nazi years. In plain and lucid language Angress recounts the gradual disillusionment of a Jewish schoolboy in Berlin after 1933. No less strikingly portrayed is his experience as an American soldier in the Second World War, parachuted into France on D-Day, wounded in battle, and shocked at the liberation of concentration camps. Readers will find in these pages the unforgettable depiction of a turbulent life.


Allan Mitchell, author of Nazi Paris: The History of an Occupation


Angress' memoir pulls readers in with details of daily life in Nazi Germany and later in the U.S. army. He not only paints a lively picture of his dense family, neighborhood, school, and youth group relationships, but allows his emotions to come to the fore.... Allowing us to share his memories and observations, he brings us into his world with humor, modesty, and a sharp eye for the telling detail. His humanity and insights makes this book a must read for students of Germany, Jewish history, and "G.I. Jews." As a "witness to the storm," he enriches all of us.


Marion Kaplan, author of Gender and Jewish History

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Table of Contents


Personal Notes

1. Family Life in Berlin, 1920-1936

2. Early Childhood and School Days

3. The Youth Movement

4. Gross Breesen Training Farm for Emigrants, 1936-1937

5. The Road into Exile, 1937-1939

6. United States - Hyde Farmlands, 1939-1941

7. Service in the Army and War

8. From the Battle of the Bulge to the End of the War, 1944-1945