Friday, March 14, 2014

‘Memoirs of an American Jewish Soldier,’


WWII memoir tells perspective
of Jewish soldier from Akron

In a letter accompanying his engrossing book Memoirs of an American Jewish Soldier: From the Heartland of America to the Frontline of the Third Reich, 89-year-old Akron resident Robert (Bud) Sabetay says he started writing 48 years ago, but didn’t have time to complete the book until his retirement from his business, Barberton Glass.

Sabetay worked briefly at Goodrich after graduating from Buchtel High School, and was drafted in 1943. Despite his wish of entering the Air Corps, he was assigned to the Army and sent to basic training at Camp Bowie in Texas. It was in this part of his service that he experienced anti-Semitism, with an officer ignoring his furlough paperwork and sending him on maneuvers instead.

With the 90th Infantry Division, Sabetay proved a good, resourceful soldier, and his descriptions of his engagements, including the Battle of the Bulge, are detailed and effective. As he says in his preface, “I remember those things like they happened yesterday,” and this is clearly true. More than once Sabetay makes the acquaintance of another GI, only to learn soon after that he had been killed.

Sabetay does his job as necessary, without agonizing over his obligation of firing on the enemy, but expresses anger and disgust at the barbarity of those on both sides who “just seemed to buck the established rules of engagement.” Contrasting a kindness in which Sabetay’s lieutenant called a cease-fire to allow a German medic to attend to a casualty, he also witnessed a U.S. machine gunner mow down German soldiers who were attempting to surrender, and a German who feigned surrender to an American for the purpose of ambushing him.

When the 11th Panzer Division surrendered in May 1945, a German officer gave Sabetay a pair of warm mittens to replace his sodden gloves.

Memoirs of an American Jewish Soldier (163 pages, softcover) costs $17.95 from, which also sells a self-help book by the author’s son, David.