(Contributed by Gabe Rosenberg ’16)
Two years after he passed away, Werner T. Angress ’49 is having his story told to the world – again.
While Angress found himself as a prominent subject of another Wesleyan alum’s book – The Virginia Plan: William B. Thalhimer and a Rescue From Nazi Germany (The History Press, 2011), Robert Gillette ’59’s history of the successful rescue effort of 21 Jewish adolescents during World War II – he finished translating his own memoir from German to English. Angress died before either account of his life could be released, however, so his children took it upon themselves to publish his story.
Angress’ family, including Nadine Angress ’90, independently released the translated, completed work under his name through Amazon.com as Witness to the Storm: A Jewish Journey from Nazi Berlin to the 82nd Airborne, 1920-1945. The memoir tells of Angress’ life as “a patriotic German-Jewish boy who in his teens was rejected and betrayed by the Nazi regime.” He fled to the United States, where he took refuge as a chicken farmer at Hyde Farms, a haven provided by Virginia department store owner William Thalhimer – and the focus of Gillette’s history.
From there, Angress joined the United States Army, trained as an interrogator, jumped as a paratrooper on D-Day and helped liberate a concentration camp near his hometown. Through the G.I. Bill, he returned home after the war and attended Wesleyan, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and becoming a history professor.
Angress chose to retire to Berlin, “where he spent his last years talking to German schoolchildren about what it was like to grow up Jewish under the Third Reich, and working to promote tolerance and peace.”
Witness to the Storm is available to purchase online at Amazon.com, in both paperback and Kindle editions.