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I Bore Witness Robert Behr

Robert Behr (1922—2018)

Holocaust Survivor & Nazi Interrogator Berlin, Germany

B.A. in Modern European History Miami University, Class of 1967

Robert Behr was born in Berlin, Germany on March 1, 1922 into a middle-class Jewish family. His parents, Alfred and Lilly Behr, divorced when he was young and his mother remarried Dr. Alfred Hamburger. Their lives changed dramatically with the passing of the Nuremberg Race Laws in September 1935, which stripped German Jews of their citizenship and required them to carry identity papers. Alfred Behr was arrested during Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938 and sent to Buchenwald although he was quickly released. Lilly, Robert, and Alfred Hamburger were not so lucky. In 1942, they were arrested and sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, where they worked in deteriorating conditions until May 5, 1945, when the family was liberated by the Soviet Army. In 1947, Robert immigrated to the United States and enlisted in the army. He returned to Berlin to interrogate former Nazis and care for his mother. Robert eventually settled in Dayton, Ohio after leaving the Army in 1952 and joined the United States Air Force civil service as an intelligence officer. He graduated from Miami University in 1967.

Three photos of from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Robert Behr. Left to right: 1. Robert Behr (a German Jewish survivor who later joined the US Army) and another American soldier pose outside the German-American Youth Club. After joining the US Army Robert Behr was tasked to run a German youth club to teach democratic values. 2. A young Robert Behr circa 1926-1929 sits on a log in front of two lion cubs at the Berlin petting zoo. 3. Robert Behr sits next to his mother at a table on an outdoor balcony in Berlin circa 1947-1950.