Oral History Interview with Sidney H. Willig

Sidney H. Willig was born in New York City on July 2, 1919 into an Orthodox Jewish family. He attended public school and trained as a soccer player and boxer. He refers to antisemitism in America in the 1920s and 1930s: employment, his rejection from the Navy, and incidents in the Air Force.

As a navigator in the Air Force during World War II, he was shot down over the Netherlands. He describes in detail aid provided to him as an American officer by Dutch families and the Dutch underground. He also shares details about a Dutch Jew who was being hidden by a Dutch family whom he met, from November 1944 to April 1945. He reflects on his decision to continue to wear his dog tags, which displayed the Ten Commandments, until his liberation. He ponders the vast network of Nazi influence, because on his return to New York, the Vichy consular officer in Washington, D.C. requested from him the names of those who had helped him in Holland. Upon his return to New York he continued his college studies at St. John’s and then studied law on the advice of his valued teacher John Dandro. He reflects on the reasons Jews have survived over the centuries.

Date: 05/23/1985
Interviewer: Bonnie Bailes
Interviewee: Sidney H. Willig
Language: English
Subject: Aircraft accidents.
Antisemitism--United States.
B-17 bomber.
Fighter pilots--United States.
Flight navigators, Military.
Jewish soldiers--United States.
Jews--New York (State)--New York.
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Western Front.
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Jewish.
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Veterans--United States.
Men--Personal narratives.
Location: New York City, USA
Permalink: https://hoha.digitalcollections.gratzcollege.edu/item/oral-history-interview-with-sidney-h-willig/