Sol Greenberg, 86,
World War II POW
Sol Greenberg was
a survivor. He managed to live through:
* The 1944
shoot-down of his B-17 Flying Fortress over occupied Belgium.
* Sixteen months
as a Jewish POW in German captivity.
* Two run-ins
with trains while driving across railroad crossings in Austell and
Atlanta, escaping both merely shaken and bruised.
* Four marriages.
86, died Friday, June 25, 2004, of kidney failure at St. Joseph's
Hospital. The graveside service as Sunday. Dressler's Jewish Funeral
Care was in charge of arrangements.
"Sol and I were
captured at about the same time and were assigned to the same barracks
Stalag Luft 1," said Joe Vogel of Bethesda, Md.
"Sol was a
wonderful buddy. He organized the camp's trading post, so prisoners
could swap things they got in Red Cross packages for things they needed.
Sol traded with the camp guards to get things we couldn't get otherwise.
"Once Sol helped
an escape attempt by distracting guards while a fellow POW hid in a cart
of soiled sheets bound for the camp laundry. The officer managed to get
outside the camp but was caught soon afterward, and for that, both he
and Sol did stretches in the camp 'cooler,' " Mr. Vogel said.
"Sol had nerve,"
said Frank Gerrity of Clark Summit, Pa. "He thought about escape
constantly, but you had to have approval from the POWs' escape committee
before you could try, and he never got an OK. When anybody else tried,
though, Sol helped out in some way.
"Near the end of
the war, an order came down the German chain of command to segregate the
Jewish POWs. We worried that meant they were to be executed. Our senior
POW officer, a Col. Hubert Zemke, warned the German camp commandant that
any mistreatment of the Jewish POWs would bring retribution after the
war. Whatever the Germans were planning, that seemed to stop it.
"The 12 of us who
originally shared a room at the camp have had maybe 15 reunions over the
years. We've gathered for several days and swapped horror stories. Now
there are only three of us left."
Russian forces in May 1945, Mr. Greenberg returned to civilian life in
his hometown, Atlanta. For nearly 30 years he was a sales representative
for ZEP Manufacturing, a maker of cleaning and sanitation supplies.
He led morning
and evening minyan, or prayers, at Congregation Shearith Israel. He was
resident of service organizations and raised funds for humanitarian
causes in Israel.
"Uncle Sol was
more than an uncle. He was a continuously strong presence in the family
--- in between his moves, his marriages, his sales trips," said a niece,
Linda Bressler of Atlanta.
"He loved to get
married. His challenge was to stay married. His fourth wife was an
Israeli, and he went there to live with her. Eight years later, after
trying unsuccessfully to learn Hebrew while in his 60s, he came back,"
valued neatness and organization. "For example, Uncle Sol put labels on
all his things, such as pants that were 'slightly tight' and those that
were 'too tight,' " Mrs. Bressler said.
He also was
considered the family curmudgeon.
"Uncle Sol was a
man who could disagree with you, even when he agreed with you. He loved
a good argument, but if he was willing to argue with you, you knew he
really cared about you," said a great-nephew, Matthew Bagen of Portland,
a sister, Clara Feldman of Atlanta; a brother, Irving Greenberg of
Atlanta; and a granddaughter.