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I Bore Witness Carl H. Lavin

Carl H. Lavin (1924—2014)

Jewish Soldier

B.S. in Business Administration Miami University, Class of 1948


Born in Canton, Ohio, Carl studied at Miami University until May 1943, when he was called into active duty in the U.S. Army. Lavin fought on the front lines of the Battle of the Bulge, where his unit suffered major casualties. Carl was able to maintain a steady correspondence with his family during the war and his letters provide a window into everyday life in the military. In the weeks after the war, General Eisenhower issued an order that any American Jewish soldier could visit a liberated camp to see the devastation of the Holocaust. Although personally invited by his company commander, Carl declined the visit because of the horrifying photographs of liberated camps that were being published in newspapers at the time. He would regret that decision for the rest of his life, but like many soldiers he had already witnessed enough death and suffering. Following the war, Carl returned to Miami in 1946 and became President of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. Carl’s older brother Fred is also an alumnus of Miami University.  Frank Lavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, wrote about his father’s war experiences in his book, Home Front to Battlefront: An Ohio Teenager in World War II (Ohio University Press, 2016).


Three images. The first of the young Lavin brothers with their mother, the middle image is a certificate, the last image is of war time correspondence with text reading,


1. Photograph of Carl Lavin (middle), Fred Lavin and Dorothy Lavin, 1930

2. Membership certificate, Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, Miami University, 1943

3. Letter from Carl Lavin to Mr. and Mrs. Leo Lavin, 1945


Two images. The first of Photograph of Carl Lavin in uniform at Fort Hood and the second a letter from Carl to his parents.


1. Photograph of Carl Lavin in uniform at Fort Hood, 1943

2. Letter from Carl Lavin to Mr. and Mrs. Leo Lavin, undated


Image of a book cover with handwritten letters as a background and the title in red reading, 'Home Front to Battlefront, An Ohio Teenager in World War II'

Home Front to Battlefront
An Ohio Teenager in World War II

By Frank Lavin
Foreword by Henry Kissinger


Carl Lavin’s story is one of ten extraordinary personal journeys of Miami alumni and faculty told in the exhibition, Bearing Witness: The Holocaust and Jewish Experience at Miami University, co-hosted by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections & University Archives and Hillel at Miami University.