FORT HOOD — The Carl R. Darnell Army Medical Center and other Fort Hood officials organized a Day of Remembrance to mark the 2018 National Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Phantom Warrior Center Thursday. The event welcomed scores of soldiers and featured retired Army Col. Ralph Hockley, who grew up in a Jewish family in Germany as Adolph Hitler rose to power.
Hockley, born in Karlruhe, Germany, in 1925, lectured much like a seasoned historian would speak to university level students of his early childhood and how it was impacted by the rise of the Nazi Party led by the charismatic Hitler who catapulted to power in 1933. Along with the rise of the Nazi Party, attitudes in Germany began to more stridently reflect the anti-Semitism that had long lurked just beneath the surface. As those attitudes began to swell, many Jews considered leaving for nearby France.
“Many thought it was a mistake to leave,” Hockley said, “…that Hitler wouldn’t last.”
Hockley recounted the family move to France in hopes of finding normality. He recounted how he excelled in learning French, but the Nazis followed the family to France, too.
“Normal life in France would be short-lived,” Hockley said.
As the German blitzkrieg swept through Europe, Jewish families began trying to find better prospects.
“The official U.S. policy as stated by Cordell Hull, was to refuse the refugees,” Hockley declared. Organizations, not often mentioned in the history books, were instrumental in assisting with refugee assistance. Hockley offered his services to the Quakers as an interpreter and assist in refugee efforts and, later, denazification.
The event also featured a collection of Holocaust artifacts from Gregg Philipson, a commissioner for the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.
His father, an American soldier during the war, helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp.
Philipson’s collection included maps, authentic Star of David patches, and what Hockley referred to as “the only copy of the Talmud ever produced by a government.”