Artifact of the month for April

Souvenir for US servicemen in Buchenwald
Josef Mendelsohn (1916 – 1992)

Joseph Mendelsohn was born in Trondheim as the youngest of five sons to Aaron (f.1871in Lithuania) and Thora (b. Paltiel) Mendelsohn. In January 1940 he went to the US to take a supplementary year to his engineer degree from NTH. When the war broke out he enlisted in the US Army and became a liaison officer in an infantry division. He went ashore at Omaha Beach in Normandy during D-Day on the 6th of June 1944. Later he participated in Battle of the Bulge. On the 11th of April 1945 he took part in liberating the Buchenwald concentration camp. There he met five surviving Jews from Norway, including his cousin Julius Paltiel. In the picture we see from left Pelle Hirsch, Samuel Steinmann, Joseph Mendelsohn, Julius Paltiel, Leo Eitinger and Assor Hirsch.


Most Norwegian soldiers who returned home in 1945 were reunited with a family that had experienced deprivation, fear and rationing, but who were otherwise unharmed. For Jewish women and men in uniform, the situation was completely different. For most of them, the spring and summer of 1945 crushed their remaining hopes of finding any of their deported relatives and friends alive. Of the approximately 2,100 Jews in Norway 767 were killed. Among these were also Joseph Mendelsohn parents and brother Henrik. Only 34 of the 773 who were deported had miraculously survived.

Joseph Mendelsohn settled in the United States after the war and lived there until his death in 1992.