David Friedmann;painting to survive-My interview with his daughter Miriam.

David Friedmann’s story is not just a story of dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust but also a story of a second chance and hopes despite immense grief and hardships.

The artist David Friedmann was born in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria (now Ostrava, Czech Republic), but moved to Berlin in 1911. In 1944, Friedman was separated from his wife and daughter, never seeing them again, and was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Friedman survived his internment at the extermination camp. After the war he married fellow survivor Hildegard Taussig. After living in Israel for five years, the family immigrated to the United States in 1954, eventually becoming citizens and settling in St. Louis, where he worked as a commercial artist for an advertising company, later retiring in 1962

But rather me telling his story ,it is much better if this story is told by someone who was very close to him. His daughter Miriam Friedman Morris.

I had some email correspondence with Miriam before the interview and had asked her a few questions. I would like to share her answers

I would like to know though how he felt from being a decorated artist during WW1 and a well established and a renowned artist in Berlin, to having to flee his adopted hometown in 1938 because of the rise of Nazism?

David Friedmann’s talent for portraiture played a central role throughout his career and saved his life during the Holocaust. His art weaves a tapestry of the joys and horrors he experienced, witnessed, and chronicled. My father’s works are imbued with an added sense of historical accuracy, one made all the more resonate by his firsthand experience of some of the most important events in the 20th century. Numerous catastrophic interruptions took him away from his art. David Friedman painted for his life—from the trenches of World War I, under threat of Nazi SS officers and through his postwar journey from Czechoslovakia to Israel and finally, the United States. His work exemplifies defiance in the face of persecution, loss and tragedy. His art would not be silent. My father’s artwork shines a light on a dynamic life crushed by the Nazis and his indomitable inner strength to paint again.

What kept him going even after his first wife and child had been murdered?

My father wrote a diary for me when I was born. He begins with the loss of his wife and child. He had to overcome his crippling grief to build a new life. I turned the pages and saw carefully placed photos and newspaper articles in-between text with pointing arrows. He wrote about his first postwar art exhibition in Jan. 1946 and befriending a young woman named Hildegard Taussig. I learned the courageous stories of two heroes, my mother and father.

Undoubtedly he used his art as a way of therapy, but aside of his art did he talk about the horrors he witnessed to you and your mother?

No, for my father, it was too painful. He had locked his feelings in a kind of jail and closed the door. My mother told some info about my father’s first family, but mostly I learned about his life from his art. After my father’s death, my father’s diary was transcribed. I learned a great deal more about his life and even found clues to help in the search for lost artwork. The lost pieces of a renowned painter and graphics artist confirm the brilliant career the Nazis could not destroy.

After his retirement from commercial art in the early 1960’s, he returned to the Holocaust. Disturbed by the fact that people were forgetting the Holocaust, my father believed it was his obligation to make an indelible statement to all humankind. He wanted to impress upon their consciousness the ruthless persecution, torment, and atrocities practiced by the Nazis, so that it would never happen again. His tortured recollections would be transferred to paper and show the dehumanization and suffering of the Jew under Nazi rule. There would be no imagery or symbolism; his art would show the reality that only a victim could produce.

“I wish everyone had to take a good look at the artwork. They have to look at what persecution under the Nazi regime was, and it can happen again, for in America to be a Nazi, to be a Communist is not prohibited. Against an evil world I will work further and try to put my feelings down on canvas or paper against antisemitism, against race hatred of all people.”

Some of the paintings of ” the Because They Were Jews!” exhibition haunt me and are very powerful.

This is the response my father would have wanted to never forget the Holocaust”

On August 29,1944 David Friedmann was put on a transport from Lodz to Auschwitz Birkenau.

Painting by David Friedmann(courtesy of Miriam Friedman Morris)

It is the duty of all of us to never forget the Holocaust, because it can so easily happen again.

Sources

https://chgs.elevator.umn.edu/asset/viewAsset/57fbe5ec7d58ae7d76557594#57fbe5ea7d58ae7d76557593

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/last_portrait/friedmann.asp

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn50039

https://www.visitnorman.com/events/testimony-the-life-and-work-of-david-friedman

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Otto Frank

On this day 40 years ago. Otto Frank passed away, aged 91.

On may 15 1945 he wrote the following letter while on board the Monowai steamship. This was exactly 5 years after the Dutch had capitulated to the Germans.

“The closer we get to home the greater our impatience to hear from our loved ones. Everything that’s happened the past few years! Until our arrest I don’t know exactly what caused it, even now, at least we still had contact with each other. I don’t know what’s happened since then. Kugler and Kleiman and especially Miep and her husband and Bep Voskuil provided us with everything for two whole years, with incomparable devotion and sacrifice and despite all danger. I can’t even begin to describe it. How will I ever begin to repay everything they did. But what has happened since then? To them, to you to Robert [Otto’s brother]. Are you in touch with Julius and Walter? [Edith Frank’s brothers] All our possessions are gone. There won’t be a pin left, the Germans stole everything. Not a photo, letter or document remains. Financially we were fine in the past few years, I earned good money and saved it. Now it’s all gone. But I don’t think about any of that. We have lived through too much to worry about that kind of thing. Only the children matter, the children. I hope to get news from you immediately. Maybe you’ve already heard news about the girls”

We all know Anne and Margot’s history but we know little about their Fathert Otto.

During WW1 he enlisted in the German army 1915. He was part of a ‘Lichtmesstrupp’, a unit that analysed where enemy artillery fire came from.In 1917 he was promoted in the field to lieutenant and served at the Battle of CambraiIn

In 1933 due to the rise of Nazism in Germany he moved his family to the Netherlands, eventually settling in Amsterdam. In 1937 he had plans setting up a business in Great Britain, but the plans never worked out.

He tried to obtain a Visa for the USA but this was denied.

In July 1942 the Frank family and other went into hiding in the secret annex in the company building on the Prinsengracht.

On 4 August 1944, Dutch police officers headed by SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Josef Silberbauer unexpectedly raided the Secret Annex. The hiding place had been discovered. Otto and the other people in hiding were arrested.

In September,1944 Otto Frank was separated forever from his wife and daughters.

After the separation on the Auschwitz-Birkenau platform, Otto was at first as put to work outside the camp in the ‘Kommando Kiesgrube’, a gravel mine,whichl was used for construction projects. Then, he was transferred to the ‘Kommando Strassenbau’, building roads outside the camp. When the frost made working outdoors impossible, Otto ended up with less exhausting work like peeling potatoes. Otto felt greatly supported by Peter van Pels, who would sometimes be able to get some extra food through his job in the camp’s post office. He was also helped by other friends in the camp. When at one point, Otto lost hope after he had been beaten, his fellow inmates, with the help of a Dutch doctor, made sure that he was admitted to the sick barracks. When the Soviet troops came closer, the camp command cleared Auschwitz. Anyone who was able to walk, had to come along this march, which turned out to be a death march Otto stayed behind walkin the sick barracks. He was too weak to travel, weighed only 52 kg and was in no condition to join.He expected to be shot but was liberated by the Soviet troops on January 27,1945.

As soon as Otto regained his strenghth, he wanted nothing more than to return to the Netherlands. Since the war was still raging in large parts of Europe, he had to make a long detour. In Odessa (then in the Soviet Union, today in Ukraine) he got on board of the ‘Monowai’, a ship that was heading towards Marseille (France), with hundreds of other survivors.

Di

During this journey he found out that his wife had died in Auschwitz.

His hope that Anne and Margot might have survived were quashed in July 1945, when he met with the Brilleslijper sisters, who had been imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen with Anne and Margot. They told him about their miserable last months and about their deaths due to illness and exhaustion.

Otto Frank married former Amsterdam neighbor and fellow Auschwitz survivor,Elfriede Geiringer in Amsterdam on 10 November 1953, and the couple moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he had family, including relatives’ children, with whom he shared his experiences.

Source

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/main-characters/otto-frank/

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Their evil knew no boundaries.

1

Ghandi once said”“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” This is such a true statement.

The Nazis claimed to make a great nation out of Germany , but the same Nazis did not care for the weakest members, In fact they despised them, they were perceived to be a burden on the ordinary citizens.  and often would kill them and/or torture them. After they killed them they would steal their belongings even those belongings they had no use for like artificial limbs or other prosthesis.

2

Often these prosthesis belonged to soldiers who had fought in WWI, for Germany and were injured. But these heroes suddenly became a burden, when they were Jewish they definitely had a death sentence. Regardless how valiantly they had fought before to defend their Nation, and that was just it, the Jewish citizens still saw Germany as their nation.

Then of course there were the children, Jewish children and Gypsy children(and I do apologize for the generic term gypsy, but if I write Roma I offend some people and if i write Sinti I offend other people, that’s why I am using the generic term)

They were not seen as the future for this so called ‘great’ nation but they were seen as less then vermin who had to be destroyed together with their parents.

The ‘heroic’ Nazis were great in killing defenseless, vulnerable people. At the end they were nothing but cowards whose evil knew no boundaries.

I know some people will argue that in every war there is collateral damage and innocent lives get killed, which is absolutely true. But this was different, these vulnerable people were killed either on a face to face, personal basis or in purpose built facilities to kill en mass those who were not desired in society, often their own people.

doll

Sources

https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust

http://auschwitz.org/en/gallery/exhibits/evidence-of-crimes,1.html

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Harriëtte Zeeman

1

Harriëtte Zeeman just another teenager.

But she was more then that.

She was someones’s daughter.

She was someone’s sister.

She was someone’s friend.

She was someone’s student.

She was someone’s neighbor.

She was someone who annoyed people.

She was someone who made people laugh.

She was someone born in Amsterdam.

She was someone’s enemy.

She was someone who was murdered by an evil regime in Auschwitz, on 26 October 1942.

She was someone who was murdered aged 14, the same age as my daughter is now.

J.D. -The Forgotten WWII Hero.

2019-11-05

This most be one of the most intriguing WWII stories,not is it only one of those rare positive WWII stories it also ties in to WWI and the effects of it still apply today.

We have no name for this hero, all we know him as is J.D. .  We know of J.D is that he was a Polish immigrant who worked as a steel worker in the US. We also know he had Lymphoma which is a  blood cancer that develop from lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). He was terminally ill and did  not have long to live. He was incased in tumors.

J.D was the first patient to be treated with a Chemotherapy.

Milton Winternitz at Yale, who had worked on sulfur mustards in WWI, managed to get a contract to study the chemistry of the mustard compounds from the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. He approached two pharmacologists from the Yale School of Medicine, Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman,  to investigate potential therapeutic applications of chemical warfare agents.

Goodman and Gilman’s initial plan was to create anti dotes to mustard gas.They were afraid of a repeat of WWI. They discovered that soldiers who had been exposed to Mustard gas in WWI had a surprisingly low whit blood cell count.

They then  reasoned that this agent could be used to treat lymphoma.Initially they  set up an animal model by creating  lymphomas in mice and showed they could treat them with mustard agents. Next, in co-operation with a thoracic surgeon, Gustaf Lindskog, they injected a related agent, mustine (the prototype nitrogen mustard anticancer chemotherapeutic), into the  patient only known as J.D.  He had volunteered for the test he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He got his first injection on August 27 at 10.00 AM  They noticed  a dramatic reduction in the patient’s tumor masses.Although the effect lasted only a few weeks, and the patient had to return for another set of treatment, it would the first step to the realization that cancer could be treated by pharmacological agents.

Although J.D’s life was only prolonged for a few months it had given him at least a few reasonably good months.

2019-11-05 (1)

Although  the study was concluded in 1943 , due to  the secrecy associated with the war gas program, the results were not published until 1946.the publication of the first clinical trials was reported on October 6 1946 in the New York Times.

All the chemo therapies that followed work bascially on the same mechanism.

If it had not been for J.D. the treatment for cancer may have been completely different today. Therfore I believe he really was a WWII Hero.

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Sources

BBC

https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/21/8643

New York Times

 

 

 

When Himmler met the World Jewish Congress.

Meeting

I don’t know what to think of this story. It is either bizarre or amazing, but probably a bit of both.It is a great indication how truly delusional Himmler was.

In spring 1945 Himmler had already seen the light in relation to the progression of the war. It was clear to him Germany would lose and his life would not be safe. He therefore approached the allies to see if he could make a deal with them. He basically wanted to be appointed as the head of Germany after the war.

Himmler met Hitler for the last time on 20 April 1945. at Hitlers’s 56th birthday party, although the Soviets were shelling Berlin, they were still having a birthday party. where Himmler swore unswerving loyalty to Hitler. At a military briefing on that day, Hitler stated that he would not leave Berlin, in spite of Soviet advances. Himmler left Berlin shortly after the briefing.

In the early hours of  April 21, With the help of  Heinrich Himmler’s osteopath, Felix Kersten, the Swedish section of the WJC arranged a secret meeting between Norbert Masur, a German Jew who had emigrated to Stockholm, Walter Schellenberg and Himmler about 70 kilometres north of Berlin.

I don’t know what I would have done if I would have been in Masur’s shoes. I more then likely would have attacked Himmler.

Himmler

Masur issued a report of more then 60 pages about the meeting. Below is one excerpt of it.

“I tried very carefully to get him away from the unfortunate thought to defend his policies against the Jews in front of a Jew, because such an attempt would force him to add lie upon lie to his argument. But it was impossible to do so. It seemed that he had the need to express his defense to a Jew, as he probably felt that the days of his life, or at least the days of his freedom were numbered. And Himmler continued: ‘In order to stop the epidemics we were forced to cremate the bodies of the many people who died of the diseases. That was the reason we had to build the crematoria, and now, because of this, everyone wants to tighten the noose around our neck.’This was the most convulsing try by Himmler to cover up his deeds. I loathed this explanation of the crematoria to such an extent that I could only remain silent.”

As a result of Masur’s meeting, Himmler allowed around 7000 women to leave the Ravensbruck concentration camp with the Swedish Red Cross.

rAVENSBRUCK

Himmler probably thought that would absolve him from any wrong doing. Just over a month later on May 23rd ,1945, Himmler killed himself, if you ask my opinion I believe that day should be an international holiday.

What amazes me most about this is that so little is ever made of this meeting in the history annuls of WWII.

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Sources

USHMM

neatorama.com/2017/04/21/A-Meeting-with-Himmler/

The Star

Zeppelins,Bombing and Chocolate

Zeppelin

Ever since I was a young lad I was interested in WWII,mainly because I had a personal connection to it. But for some reason I was never really that interested in WWI, probably because the Netherlands had managed to stay out of it.

However the last few years I have become more interested in the so called ‘Great war’ the war which was supposed to end all wars, but as we know now it didn’t and in fact one of the consequences of WWI was WWII.

I only recently found out that Britain had been subjected to a Blitz like warfare during World  War i, it had been bombed a great number of times not only by airplanes but more so by Zeppelins.

On the night of 19–20 January 1915, Britain was bombed for the first time in its history. The target was  Greater Yarmouth.The Zeppelin designated L 3  was the first airship  raid to wreak havoc in  England on that fateful night.

Yarmouth

It was operated by a crew of fifteen. The dirigible was 518 feet, 2 inches (158 meters) long with a diameter of 48 feet, 6 inches (14.8 meters).

The first 2 ever civilian casualties caused by an air raid were Martha Taylor and Samuel Smith.

talot

In total  about 51 bombing raids were made by airships  on Britain during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents. Airplanes carried out 27 raids.

It was very difficult to hunt for Zeppelins despite their size, additionally it was hard to bring them down, The metal frame protected them from bullets fired from airplanes. A new sort of bullet had to be designed. The answer came via incendiary ammunition .Incendiary bullets called “Buckingham” ammunition were supplied to early British night fighters for use against these Zeppelins . The flammable hydrogen gas of the zeppelins made incendiary bullets much more deadly than standard ones which would pass through the outer skin without igniting the gas.

BULLETS

On the evening of 5 August 1918 Sir Egbert “Bertie” Cadbury made hunt for the L 70.  which took off from Friedrichshafen with four other airships.

The commander of the L 70 was Peter Strasser the chief commander of German Imperial Navy Zeppelins and one of the architects of the Zeppelin air raids.

Strasser

Cadbury had been  attending a charity concert at which his wife was performing when an RAF orderly found him. Cadbury drove back to the airfield, where he was informed that three Zeppelins had been reported about 50 miles  to the north-east, and knowing there was only one aircraft available, an Airco DH.4.

airco

Cadbury gathered  his flying kit and ran for the airplane .With Captain Robert Leckie in the rear gunner’s seat, Cadbury climbed up to over 16,000 feet  by jettisoning his reserve fuel and some small bombs, where he saw three Zeppelins ahead and above him. He later recounted:[

“At 22.20 we had climbed to 16,400 feet and I attacked the Zeppelin ahead slightly to the port so as to clear any obstruction that might be suspended from the airship. It was a most fascinating sight – awe inspiring – to see this enormous Zeppelin blotting the whole sky above one. The tracers ignited the escaping gas, the flames spreading rapidly and turning the airship into a fireball in less than a minute. The L.70 dived headlong into the clouds. It was one of the most terrifying sights I have ever seen to see this huge machine hurtling down with all those crew on board.”

The other airships dropped their bombs blind, relying on radio bearings for navigational information but none fell on land. An attempt was made to salvage the wreckage of L 70 and most of the structure was brought ashore, providing the British a great deal of technical information. The bodies of the crew members were buried at sea.

This L 70 raid was to be last raid on Britain by Zeppelins.

After the war Cadbury resumed his job at  the family business, joining J. S. Fry & Sons, with which Cadbury’s had merged in 1918,  soon he  became the  managing director. Along with Cecil Roderick Fry, Cadbury  was pivotal in relocating Fry’s manufacturing operations from Bristol to Somerdale Garden City. At its height, the Somerdale workforce numbered over 5,000.

egbert

On 29 August 1939, Cadbury was appointed honorary air commodore of No. 928 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, a Balloon Barrage Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force.

Next time you take a bite in any of the Cadbury bars just think about this bit of history.

cadbury

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The Jewish typewriter salesman who recommended Hitler for an Iron cross.

Gutmann.JPG

I have to confess that the the title is somewhat misleading because Hugo Gutmann was not a typewriter salesman as of yet when he recommended Hitler’s award of the Iron Cross First Class.

Hugo Gutmann was one of the 12,000 Jewish military who fought for Germany during WWI.

from 29 January to 31 August, 1918 Lt. Gutmann was Adolf Hitler’s commanding officer.

Hitler on the right

Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class, for his role as a messenger, running important information between units under fire. The decoration was given to Hitler on  August 4th, 1918,  by the regimental commander, Major von Tubeuf The 2 decorations Hitler only wore were his Iron Cross, and his Nazi Party Badge.

On 8 February 1919, Gutmann left  the German Army, but still was registered army rolls as a reserve lieutenant. In 1933, he applied  for and received his military pension – which had been protected,  for all veterans including Jewish veterans ,by President  Paul von Hindenburg. Despite the anti Jewish laws and losing his German citizenship  Gutmann was allowed to keep his pension.

Around the time of the ‘Kristallnacht’ in autumn 1938, he was arrested by the Gestapo, but SS officers who know him  and  his  relationship with Hitler had him released from custody.

But regardless  this relationship, eventually his fate would have been the same as all other Jews in Germany and the occupied territories.

In 1939, Gutmann and his family moved to  Belgium . In 1940  just prior to the invasion of the Low Countries,the Gutmanns immigrated to the United States. They initially settled  in St. Louis where Hugo secured employment  as a typewriter salesman. In the US  he changed his name to Henry George Grant. He died in San Diego, California, on 22 June 1962. He was buried at Home of Peace Cemetery in San Diego.

Hugo

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Hermine Santruschitz aka Miep Gies

Miep

The name Hermine Santruschitz will mean very little to most, however the name Miep Gies is a well known name, a name which would forever be linked to a teenage diarist called Anne Frank.

Miep Gies born  Hermine Santruschitz would have celebrated her 110th birthday today, she did not get that old but she still reached the age of 100.

She was born in Vienna on February 15,1909.Her parents Mathias and Genofeva (née Jakuschitz) Santruschitz sent her to Leiden in the Netherlands in 1920. Austria was stil suffering the consequences of World War 1, there were a lot of shortages including food.

The Netherlands had remained neutral during WWI and was reasonably affluent. Hermine was sent to The Nieuwenburg family, consisting of 2 parents and 5 children. The The Nieuwenburg family initially agreed to take Hermine in foster care for 6 months, but due to bad health this was extended to one year. In that time Hermine got very attached to the family and the decision was made for Hermine to remain with the family. They called her by the shortened version of her name Miep.

In 1922 Miep moved with her foster family to Amsterdam.Miep was a bright student and after  graduating high school she got a job as an accountant.

In 1933, Otto Frank had been appointed Managing Director of Opekta, a German company which had expanded into the Netherlands.

Jam

In need of a secretary the Dutch branch, headed by Otto Frank hired Miep in 1933.

In 1933 Miep gad also met Jan Gies but due the fact that Jan had to go into the Dutch Social Services, the couple didn’t meet socially again until 1936.

Jan and Miep became close friends yo the Frank family. Shortly after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, Miep was urged to  to join a Nazi women’s group. But she refused to do so, because of this threatened with deportation back to Vienna. Jan and Miep decided to get married, this would secure Miep’s residence in the Netherlands. They got married  in Amsterdam on 16 July 1941, The Frank family was in attendance at the wedding.

Frank

Less than a year later the lives of both the Frank and the Gies family would change forever. All of them faced death , the Frank’s simply because they were Jewish, Miep en Jan Gies for helping the Frank , the Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer , hide.

The fate of all those hiding in that little secret annex in an office in Amsterdam is well documented

Miep died on January 11,2010 aged 100.

An unassuming, immigrant foster child who became an icon for heroism.

 

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Harry Truman

sT hELEN

I know what you all will be thinking that this will be a blog about President Truman, possibly about the order he gave to drop the atomic bombs. Well, you’d be wrong. It is indeed a blog about some explosive events but nothing WWII related. In fact it isn’t about President Truman either.

The subject in this blog is Harry R Truman a resident of the state of Washington who lived near Mount St. Helens.

memorial

Truman enlisted in the US Army as a private in August 1917. and served in France during World War I.

On 24 January 1918, the SS Tuscania departed Hoboken, New Jersey, with 384 crew members and 2,013 United States Army personnel aboard, Harry R Truman was one of the 2,013. The destination was Liverpool in England.

Tuscania

On the morning of February 5th, 1918, the SS Tuscania was sighted by the German submarine UB 77.During that day, the U-Boat stalked the SS Tuscania until early evening. Under the cover of darkness at about 6:40 pm, the submarine′s commanding officer, Captain Wilhelm Meyer, ordered two torpedoes fired at the Tuscania.

ub 77

The second torpedo struck the ship and sank it in the Irish Sea. 210 of the crew and troops perished that day. Harry R Truman was not one of them.

He went on to live a long life, but his death was caused by another explosion of sorts.

Truman moved near to Mount St Helens where he owned a lodge on Spirit Lake ,near the foot of the mountain for more than 50 years. He became somewhat of a  celebrity during the two months of volcanic activity preceding the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. He figured the danger was exaggerated and told reporters

“I’m going to stay right here because, I’ll tell you why, my home and my f**king life’s here. If the mountain goes, I’m going with it”

Unfortunately the volcano did erupt and Harry R Truman did die on May 18,1980 aged 83. His home was hit by a mud and snow avalanche, and buried the site of his lodge under 150 feet (46 m) of volcanic landslide debris.. His remains were never found.

tRUMAN

Some people may think he was foolish not to leave while he still could. But he knew what he wanted and where he was happiest and that was where he and his wife, who died a few years earlier, had made a life for themselves. They had found their bit of paradise for that I admire him because so few find that place they can truly call home.

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