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Werner Angress

»All I wanted to be was with my buddies, with whom I had made friends and be with them, be like them. I had to get special permission to jump.
On the morning of D-DayI found myself at the gate of the plane. I was the first person to jump. And I asked, why? The answer was: “Chicken, because you have never jumped before. If you feel the last minute that you don’t want to go, you step a little bit ahead of that and let the rest of the stick go out. You go back to England in that plane.”«


Werner Angress is born in Berlin in 1920. In 1937 his family flees to the Netherlands in 1937 and two years later, the 19-year-old emigrates together with a group of friends to the United States. In 1941 Werner joins the American Army. After two years service with the infantry he is sent to Camp Ritchie in 1943. From there he is sent to England and is assigned to an airborne division.

On D-Day night, although he had never jumped before, Werner is on a plane to France in order to parachute behind the German lines, when his plane is attacked, the shocked pilot takes evasive action and drops Werner miles away from his original destination. For nine days he evades capture behind the German lines, gathering other lost GIs around him. Then the group is betrayed by a French farmer and captured by the Germans. Werner can conceal his true identity and is liberated two weeks later by the advancing American troops. Afterwards he is fighting in France, Benelux and Germany.

On mother’s day in 1945 Werner is reunited with his mother and his two younger brothers in Amsterdam where they survived the war in hiding. His father has been arrested in 1941 and was killed in Auschwitz. In fall 1945 Werner returns to the USA and enrols in a university. He becomes a professor of history, first in Berkeley, then in Stony Brook, New York. Today he lives in Berlin.