Fight On: A GI’s Odyssey Back to Nazi Germany


A teenage boy leaves Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s, following his Jewish father to America, and returns to his homeland as a U.S. soldier.

Bernard Kahn was born in Munich, Germany, to a Jewish father and Christian mother. Persecuted by the “pure Aryans” and his schoolmates, Bernard escaped the Nazi regime and joined his father in America. While in college, he joined the U.S. Army and returned to Europe – and ultimately Munich – surviving two years of intense combat in Italy, France, and Germany as a member of the famed 45th Division, the Thunderbirds, and being among the first liberators of Dachau Concentration Camp.

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Bernard Kahn as a young boy in Munich:
The platforms on the Munich streetcars were open, and I was standing at the gate one day in 1936 when a six-seater Mercedes pulled up between the streetcar and the curb. The cry went up: “Der Führer, der Führer!” In the front passenger seat was a rather short man – a most unimpressive Hitler. I could have spat on our Führer; I was that close.

Erno Schmid had once been my friend; we used to jump to each other’s defense, regardless of how futile the effort. Suddenly for Erno, there was an all-powerful friend – the Nazi Regime. Erno had become a Nazi! We were walking from school one day and he announced, “You are the son of a Jew. You will never wear a uniform except the striped one in Dachau.”

I saw quite clearly what my future held. Hate propaganda, hate editorials, and the mysterious disappearance of some outspoken dissidents were clear indicators. I was keenly aware that I was helpless in front of a slowly advancing steamroller, and I strongly felt that my luck was running out. My only alternative was to exercise my option and become an American.

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Bernard Kahn


Neil Kahn and Flint Whitlock


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