LEVIN | My Grandfather Couldn’t Come to Cornell. But I’m Here Now

Howard Levin, my grandfather, was 17 years old when he lied to the Army recruiter about his age. The year was 1942 — the height of the Second World War. Adolf Hitler commanded the fiercest army on Earth with the promise of mechanistically eradicating every single Jew. Crematoria, gas chambers, firing squads, drowning, death marches through the dead of winter, disease and starvation. This was evil on an industrial scale. 

“There were not six million Jews murdered,” said one Holocaust survivor. “There was one murder, six million times.”

My grandfather, a Jew from Brooklyn, knew when he enlisted in the most fatal war in world history that his bravery could play a part in defeating fascism and hatred. An avowed pacifist, Howard trained to be a medic. In the aftermath of D-Day, he was just outside of Normandy, tending to the wounded on the front lines as bullets and bombs whizzed by.