Friday, October 24, 2008

The Miracle of A5714

As many of you know, I'm quite fond of Can-You-Top-This stories from history. That being said, I think it would be difficult to top the too strange to be believed but not too strange to be believed story of Robert Max Widerman. Back in 1942, 16-year-old Robert was in a VERY bad situation: he and a dozen other members of his family- all French Jews- were on a train to Buchenwald. He was destined to be the only survivor. Only after the war, when he came home with a blue A5714 tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, did he learn that a few of his 13 siblings had survived. Despite all that he'd suffered, he went back to what he'd done before the war: singing and acting, and managed to achieve considerable success. He learned English, made it to America, and married Eddie Cantor's daughter. And he changed his name to Robert Clary. The irony about Mr. Clary's career that simply beggars the imagination is that his greatest professional success was playing 'Corporal Louie LeBeau'- a prisoner in a German POW camp in the television comedy Hogan's Heroes. Mr. Clary is still with us; he turned 82 last March.

Robert Clary with Bob Crane.

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