Born in Vienna in 1920, Robert Brand was arrested on the street along with his brother, Teddy, following the Kristallnacht pogrom and imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp. After a few months he was released, thanks to his friends' intervention. In early 1939, Robert and Teddy were able to leave Austria and arrive in Argentina, where they waited until their parents managed, against all odds, to join them.
In 1941, the family received immigration papers for the United States. Three years after arriving, Brand enlisted and was sent to Europe. Though there were two other American-born Jewish soldiers in his unit, he did not share his past experiences as a Viennese Jew under Nazi rule even with them.
For most of his service, Brand served as a signal operator, but as a fluent German speaker he served as a translator for captured German POWs. As the troops advanced, Brand's unit took over a German house, where the soldiers found German uniforms and other military equipment, including a German dagger that Brand kept as a symbol of the defeat of the persecutors of his people.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by Robert Brand, New York, NY, USA