Molly Graham: This begins an oral history interview with Arthur Goldschmidt on Monday, May 16, 2016 in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The interviewer is Molly Graham, and I am joined by Joan Moscatelli. Tell me about the things you are pulling out. [Editor's Note: Mr. Goldschmidt is looking through his World War II medals and military memorabilia.]
Arthur Goldschmidt: Okay.
MG: What is this one here?
AG: That's from a four-star general, which is the highest. At the time, he had, I forget whether it was just before or just after he retired, but he was the head of the whole Air Force and he was only fifty-seven. I mentioned to him, I said, "Isn't that young?" He said, "Well." That's about it. He didn't want to comment, but you had to be damn good in order to get that, not only that, but know people.
MG: That is amazing.
MG: What about this one?
AG: Oh, it's just a World War II medal. This is from the borough.
MG: Distinguished Service Medal.
AG: Yeah. There's a coin from a two-star [general]. In fact, I think this guy's name is on it.
MG: Do you want me to pass them down?
Joan Moscatelli: Look at this, Arthur, wow.
AG: Let's see here. Yeah, this is from General Raymond Johns. He used to be the head of the whole Air Force. This one, this is from a two-star, General Bender. One of those, I think it was the first DVD, that had the four people in it, at the end, he was handing out these things to the four of us. Before that, we were discussing things in his office. Let's see here. [Editor's Note: Lieutenant General William J. "Bill" Bender currently serves in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force as Chief, Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer. A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, Raymond E. Johns, Jr. is a retired four-star Air Force general. General Johns commanded the Air Mobility Command and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs.]
JM: These are beautiful.
AG: There's another one that was presented to me.
MG: The Second Field Artillery Brigade.
AG: Right. Here's a coaster for the Battle of the Bulge group. I do a lot of things for the group. They gave me this, and this is when I retired from being secretary. One of the things I always put on the end of the minutes was "Live long and prosper." Do you know where that comes from? [Editor's Note: In the television series Star Trek, Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, says the Vulcan salute, "Live long and prosper."]
MG: Yes. Are you a Trekkie?
AG: Yeah. This was also something that they presented to me, a whole mess of wooden coasters.
MG: Those are beautiful. You do not have to pull them out if you do not want to.
AG: All right, okay.
JM: That's from the Battle of the Bulge group.
JM: Oh, those are nice, Art. I never saw those. Those are nice.
AG: Well, not too many people got them.
JM: I've seen this, but I've never seen those. Beautiful, Art.
MG: They are nice. I wouldn't even put a glass on them.
JM: No, I wouldn't either, beautiful, Art.
AG: Okay, and this is from one of the Air Force groups, 621st Contingency Response Wing, which is [CRG, 621st Contingency Response Group]. I forget but they were a group that would actually train people before going overseas. There's another one. This is from the police over here in Mount Laurel. I got that because I was talking to people, non-veterans, but they asked me to talk to them. (Billy?) was the other one that spoke, so we both got this from the police. Then, I forget what the hell this is, but it's another coin of a different shape.
JM: Well, Art, you've got so many of these. Wow, look at these, racking these things up.
MG: Yes, quite the collection.
JM: Yeah, wow.
AG: This is from a Vietnam group that went over.
MG: What is that?
AG: It's Friends of Luxembourg. I went over. [Editor's Note: The group is called the U.S. Veterans Friends, Luxembourg.]
MG: That is beautiful.
AG: Yeah, Lloyd [Orth] was there, just the two of us.
AG: That was close to ten years ago now.
JM: Wow, beautiful.
AG: They treated us absolutely royally, and they had tours every day. We were there for ten days. We had to pay our own transportation going over, but I made arrangements many months in advance, so got one heck of a discount. Then, at the hotel we were staying at, it wasn't free, but we got an appreciable discount there. Then, we went on tours every day, and next to the last day was the, Luxembourg was the [Grand] Duchy of Luxembourg, so this was the grand duke and it was his birthday. One of the things that we did was go in the [Notre-Dame] Cathedral there. I've got a slideshow of something like 120 slides there. I didn't bring it with me. We'd get started somewhere between eight and eight-thirty and a lot of times not get back until ten-thirty and visit a number of places. Every place we went, the food was tremendous, and I have pictures of all of that. In the cathedral, on his birthday, I purposely took pictures of the women's hats because I thought they'd be interesting. These were people of his court. One of the places we went to was a school, and the students were absolutely fantastic with us. Just about every place we went there was liquor. You know I don't drink. The kinds of things they went through, they were so happy to see us, because Luxembourg had been under Nazi domination for, I think it was something like five years, so they were darn [glad] to see us. In one of the trips, we actually went to a railroad station, which is a place where they actually took the Jews to concentration camps. There were a lot of different things, very interesting. There was also one place where they wanted me to join in some kind of cemetery because I was Jewish. [Editor's Note: Luxembourg was invaded and conquered by Germany on May 10, 1940. Allied forces liberated Luxembourg in February 1945.]
Then, these things are just the big things of stuff that's on my hat. I didn't bring the Good Conduct Medal. This is a Silver Star, and I think this information is to why and this also came with it. When I was being given the Silver Star, it was in a parade field with a few thousand soldiers there. There was a stage. It was outdoors. On that very day, just that one day, a brigadier general was supposed to salute me, but I wasn't pushing it. [laughter]
JM: He did though. [laughter]
AG: There's always another day. No, actually, it didn't occur, really, but that was what was supposed to happen.
MG: Art, can I have you read this or sort of sum it up?
AG: Yes, sure, okay.
MG: It says why you were awarded the Silver Star. [Editor's Note: The Silver Star is the third highest medal after the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross that can be awarded to an American serviceperson.]
AG: "The Silver Star was awarded to me for action in the [Battle of the] Bulge in January 1945. I was in the infantry and my division was rushed to the town of Bonnerue, which in French, as many of you probably know, means 'good road.' The Bulge was Germany's last try to break through the American lines, and it was crucial to stop them. Bonnerue was a critical town. Another fellow and myself were assigned to a bazooka, which looks very much like a pipe, but is a shoulder-fired rocket launcher. Three Tiger Royal tanks with 88 mm cannons attacked. One of the tanks boresighted us." Do you know what boresighting is? Look down the barrel, line up, shove a round in and then fire. Do you know what 88 mm is? [The shell has a] three-and-a-half-inch diameter. Nothing would be left of you. [Editor's Note: Nicknamed the King Tiger or Royal Tiger, the German Tiger II tank was a heavily armored tank with an 88 mm cannon.] "One of the tanks boresighted its cannon on me and would have fired if it were not for a buddy who fired on this tank with a grease gun." Now, a grease gun you probably don't know. It looks like a gun that was used many years ago to lubricate bearings in cars. Now, they're all permanently lubricated. It was the [M-3] .45 caliber submachine gun that was stamped out, and they used the same ammunition as a .45 semi-automatic, the pistol, and also the Thompson submachine gun. Then I say here, "A grease gun, as it was called because it looked very much like one, but really, in reality, was a .45 caliber submachine gun. The noise of the bullets hitting the tank scared the occupants, who then surrendered" without firing obviously. "Another tank was attacking, and we fired the bazooka at the tank, hitting its tread and thus immobilizing them. These occupants also surrendered. The third tank ran away," and that was the last Battle of the Bulge.
This is one more time that I could've been killed. I was usually the firer in this [bazooka], my buddy the loader. This time, he grabbed the bazooka first, and he was ready to fire. The breech, the rear of it, was just a few feet away from a brick wall, and the blast would've come back and burnt the hell out of both of us, so I called to him not to fire. Fortunately, he didn't. Then, we moved to the second tank and got a lucky hit on the track, so they couldn't move. A bazooka wasn't worth a damn. The sights were four squares and you just aim and completely inaccurate. It was a lucky hit. The third tank ran away. "This action was attributed to playing a major role in stopping the breakthrough in the Bulge. My partner on the bazooka and I were awarded Silver Star medals and both received battlefield promotions to sergeant." That's the Silver Star, and the only thing silver about it is the center part of the star. [Editor's Note: On December 16, 1944, Germany launched a surprise offensive in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium with the goal of reaching the port city of Antwerp and splitting Allied forces in northwestern Europe. The battle became known as the Battle of the Bulge for the salient or bulge that the German advance created in the American lines. Reinforcements, including Mr. Goldschmidt's unit, the 347th Infantry Regiment of the 87th Infantry Division, were rushed to Belgium. On New Year's Day of 1945, the 347th Regiment entered combat deep in the salient near Bastogne. The regiment faced bitter German opposition along the Houffalize-St. Hubert Highway and in the area of the Haies de Tillet Woods. Fighting in the Ardennes lasted until January 25. The Germans suffered 100,000 casualties out of half a million men committed and lost nearly all their tanks and aircraft. American forces lost 19,000 killed, 47,500 wounded and 23,000 missing in action, making it the costliest battle of the war for the United States.]
JM: Wow, that's the silver. Look at that, wow. I've got to get a picture of that.
AG: You see what else I have here.
JM: That's beautiful, Art.
AG: This is the Bronze Star, and that came later. I don't remember what it was for anymore. That's the Bronze Star. These are original medals. This is probably the Purple Heart, yeah, there's a Purple Heart.
MG: Keep this with the Silver Star.
AG: Yeah. This was from the cathedral that I mentioned. This is just qualifying on an air-cooled .30 caliber machine gun. [Editor's Note: Mr. Goldschmidt is referring to the M1919 Browning machine gun.]
MG: Did you get this during training?
AG: Yeah, it must have been.
JM: Holy smoke, Arthur, wow.
AG: This is from Luxembourg.
JM: This is the Bronze Star, right, Art? This is the Bronze.
MG: Remind me what this one is.
AG: Oh, that was the group that invited us over was in Luxembourg, but they didn't give them out to very many people. It was because of my history and Silver Star and so forth. When you open that up, I think there's more about the ceremony in the cathedral.
JM: Look at this, holy smoke, Arthur.
MG: Pretty impressive.
JM: Pretty impressive, kiddo, wow.
AG: Well, the point is that, with the bazooka, for instance, if somebody says they're not scared, I think either they're a fool or a liar, quite frankly. As far as adrenaline is concerned, and this was right after I was being boresighted on, I don't know how I got away. I may have froze. I don't know. I had on the field jacket. It was wool lined. Under that was a wool sweater. Under that was a woolen shirt, and I had it all open and was sweating profusely. That's the effect of adrenaline. I was scared, sure, but you have a job to do and you do it. It's one of those things. Just as my battlefield fatigue is showing up here.
MG: That is okay. We understand.
AG: When I first got out, if I went to a cowboy movie, which I still enjoy, no problem. If there's shooting with a war movie, I come out shaking. I never knew why. There was one time we were practicing before going over to dig a foxhole from the prone position, lying down, and I always figured it was going to be a waste of time. Under machine gun fire over there, I did have to dig in, went down about a foot, started hitting water and kept on digging, because the Germans were up on a hill also, so we had to get down low.
MG: Well, let's try and go chronologically as possible.
AG: Oh, okay.
MG: Maybe we will back up, because we talked a little bit about training last time. I want to go over it one more time, and then we can move forward.
AG: As far as training is concerned, I had maybe about six months of training. I forget exactly.
MG: You did basic and advanced.
AG: No, just basic training. Before going in, I took a test called the Army Specialized Training Program, ASTP. Navy had the same thing, only with an N. Well, after twelve weeks of the thirteen weeks, the Army cancels the program. The Navy continued. When I went in, I was the only one who was offered a chance to go into the Navy, but I was afraid of drowning so I turned it down. My first job was giving out shoes. I had about ten seconds of training on that, [laughter] how to fit shoes. Now, if I had finished the thirteen weeks, because the Army didn't allow it, as I said, they canceled it after twelve weeks, then I would have gone to school, one of which was electrical engineering. It was an accelerated course of two years. It was an accredited course, the same as a normal four-year course in college. There were people there who gave up non-commissioned ratings for it, even from sergeant down to private, in order to get into the program. Many of them were killed. [Editor's Note: Beginning in 1942, the U.S. Army began the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), in which applicants who met stringent requirements would complete basic training and then be sent to a college or university to complete a bachelor's degree and earn a commission in eighteen months. The Navy offered the comparable V-12 Program, in which participants would earn a commission as an officer. In early 1944, with the invasion of Europe impending, the Army announced that over 100,000 ASTP students would become soldiers in combat units.]
When we first went over, we had a 37 mm gun, and it was an anti-tank gun. When we got over there, they gave us 57s [57 mm artillery], and they said they weren't worth anything against the Tiger. That 88 mm was such a great gun that it started out by being an anti-aircraft gun, and it was so good that they used it for long and close up shooting as well. It's just a universal gun.
People have asked me, this is skipping forward a little bit, but whether the Band of Brothers was accurate. [Editor's Note: Based on the 1992 book by Stephen E. Ambrose, Band of Brothers (2001) is an HBO miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Band of Brothers traces the story of Easy Company of the 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, during World War II. Mr. Goldschmidt refers to Band of Brothers when discussing the Battle of the Bulge because there are two episodes about the experiences of Easy Company during the battle.] I said, "There's two things that they can't show you and one that they won't show you." They won't show you all the gore that you see along the road, animals and people bloated from staying there a long time. Also, they can't show you smell and feeling. We passed a number of our tanks that were actually knocked out by the 88s, and you could smell the burning flesh inside. Now, this wouldn't have happened with the German tanks because they were all diesel fired. Ours were gasoline fired. The gasoline would just explode and burn.
The other thing is that there was one time when I was picked for a day in order to go to pick dead people up, dead soldiers, and put them in a truck for burial. There was one that was, I usually break up over here, so pardon me, a fellow was in a foxhole and a shell landed in with him. There wasn't anything left. I needed a shovel to pick him up. That's the feeling that you can't put in a movie, as well as a lot of other things. There were many times when I had only one meal a day, and that was take a bite, put it in your field jacket and take another bite when you get a chance. Getting back to when we first went over, we landed at Le Havre a week after the Normandy invasion. [Editor's Note: The Allied invasion of the Normandy region of German-occupied France, known as D-Day, occurred on June 6, 1944. Mr. Goldschmidt's unit, the 347th Infantry Regiment, crossed the English Channel from England to Le Havre, France on November 26-27, 1944.]
MG: Well, before we get there.
MG: I thought you had done some training at Fort Jackson.
AG: Yes. Well, there was some further training there.
MG: Can you describe that training?
AG: I don't remember a heck of a lot about it, except that we were staying in barracks and the slats on the side of the barrack had slits in them, so the cold wind would blow in. In order to keep our clothes warm, we'd put them under the mattress in order to keep them warm, so they wouldn't be frozen when we put them on. The first place we went was to, it was England. Well, first of all, I went over on the Queen Elizabeth. [Editor's Note: The HMS Queen Elizabeth was a troopship during World War II.]
MG: Out of Camp Kilmer? [Editor's Note: The U.S. Army used Camp Kilmer in Piscataway, New Jersey as an embarkation base to process soldiers being sent to serve in Europe during World War II.]
AG: Yes. We didn't go in convoy, because we were too fast for the convoy. Every few minutes, we would, I forget, maybe five minutes or so, we would change course, and I started to get kind of woozy from that. Besides that, the British gave us their food, which was very greasy, and they took ours, which was good food.
MG: What do you mean? There were both British troops and American troops onboard.
AG: No, well, it was British that were operating the ship, not troops. It was all American troops. It was a funny feeling when you were going up or down on the stairs because the ship was rocking forward and back. I forget what they call that. Yawing is when they go side to side, twisting like that. If you were going up and the stairs were going down, it would be a big step to get up there. Going down the other way, it would be hard to stand up because of that. When we got to Le Havre, we had to wait a day in order for them to clean the harbor because it was crowded from wrecked equipment. The first encounter with the enemy was in France. It was from the French that we were attacked. They killed drivers and stole the vehicles. France was actually turned over to the Germans. They didn't have to fight for it because of the Vichy government. We had to fight for everything we got. They didn't like us more than they liked the Germans. I know in one of those videos, the guy, his name was Lloyd Orth. He was that ambulance driver and he remembers a lot of good stuff going through towns and so forth. That guy was drunk pretty much all the time. Anyway, his experiences were a lot different than mine. When we went through towns, it was just to go through. Sure, we got people cheering us and so forth, but one of the things that was interesting is that there were only older women and men. The men, they'd take away for use in their armies, and the women had probably gone to camps where they would become pregnant in order to reproduce children. What else? [Editor's Note: After the German invasion and defeat of France in the spring of 1940, German forces occupied the northern half of France. A nominally free zone existed in the southern half of France under the leadership of Marshal Philippe Petain until the Germans occupied the entire nation after November 1942. Based in the spa town of Vichy, Petain created a new state that became known as the Vichy government. Charles de Gaulle led the Free French movement that was allied with Great Britain and the United States during the war.]
MG: I wanted to ask you how long it took you to get over to France from America.
AG: I think it was about three [five] days. I don't remember exactly.
MG: Tell us a little more about the other men on the ship. Were there a lot of guys from the area? What would you do to pass the time?
AG: Well, we were from all over. When we finally got off the ship, we got on to landing craft and we had no training in what I'm about to say, but they had something called a Jacob's ladder, which was a rope for [disembarking from the troopship onto the landing craft]. One of the things that was a problem was getting into a bouncing smaller ship, and if you didn't time it right, you'd end up in the water. Fortunately, nothing happened with me. I don't know anybody who missed that way.
MG: It was around December when you arrived, so it would have been chilly.
MG: Do you remember the dates when you arrived?
AG: I think it was October, I'm not sure. [Editor's Note: Mr. Goldschmidt arrived in Le Havre, France on November 26-27, 1944 and had moved with his unit to Metz, France by December 6.]
MG: Had you already been assigned to the 87th at this point?
AG: Yes, after basic training I was.
MG: What did you know about the history of the 87th? They were involved in World War I and have a long history.
AG: I didn't really know anything about them at the time. I started to say earlier that we took a test as far as that ASTP is concerned, and so the 87th Infantry Division, you know, [nicknamed the] "Golden Acorn," was also known as the "Baby Division" because we were so young. As far as Army IQ is concerned, and it wasn't the same as civilian IQ, the average I think was somewhere around 125, where all it took for Officer Candidate School was 115. I had 135 myself, and there was another fellow that had 156 out of a possible 160, but he couldn't figure out how to tighten a rope on a tent. It was all book learning. I think that the test they give here doesn't cover stuff like that. Anyway, the first battle that we went into was in France.
By the way, it was so cold that one of those DVDs indicates that it was coldest [winter] on record, and it was mighty cold. Down in France, it was mud rather than ice or snow. They attributed that to all of the artillery going off that it shook the clouds and caused all that rain. We [were] pulling the 57 mm gun by a two-and-a-half ton truck. The truck got bogged down in mud, so we had to get out and try to push it. The mud was so deep we sunk down just a little above the ankle, maybe five inches or so, and you'd try to put your foot up. It didn't work out too well because there was a lot of suction. The frontlines were the last to get any new equipment. The people all the way in back were the ones that got the equipment first, and by the time it got up to the frontline, there was nothing left. We still wore leggings instead of higher boots. Now, the leggings are a canvas that would go over the top of the boot that we were wearing, which was about this high, I think somewhere around a foot high. It was laced together. Down in France, we were told that the Germans had us surrounded on three sides and were closing in on the fourth. Our general, I think his name was Tupper, if I remember correctly, but the order was to hold. You can imagine how we felt at that point, but the next day we were relieved by another outfit and they felt that it was too dangerous to hold and they pulled back. The Germans got that land anyway. [Editor's Note: Colonel Sevier R. Tupper commanded the 347th Infantry Regiment of the 87th Division.]
MG: This was around the Maginot Line. [Editor's Note: France built a series of defensive fortifications along its border with Germany called the Maginot Line. In the fall and early winter of 1944, George S. Patton's Third U.S. Army spearheaded an offensive aimed at pushing German forces out of France and ultimately invading Germany. A part of the Third Army, the 87th Infantry Division saw frontline action in Metz, France on the Maginot Line in early December 1944 and in the Saar region in mid-December. When Germany launched its surprise offensive in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium on December 16, American forces were redirected to hold the lines in Belgium. By January 1, 1945, Mr. Goldschmidt's unit was among the reinforcements fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.]
AG: No. The Maginot Line was between France and Germany but further north. From there, once the Battle of the Bulge started, everybody was shoved up there. I was in Patton's Third Army, and on the way up, being in the back of a two-and-a-half-ton truck for eight-and-a-half hours, we got out to take a break and I was jumping up and down for twenty minutes before I had any feeling in my toes. Fortunately, I didn't get any frostbite there, but these two fingers turn yellow when it gets cold even now, but I was very lucky there. Once we got to the Battle of the Bulge, it was the day before Christmas [the New Year]. It was only the second time in many months that we saw a hot kitchen, and we got a real good meal there. Then, the day after Christmas [the New Year], into the Bulge fighting. Down south, [in Metz, France], the first time that we saw action was, there was a classic way that we were taught, that the first shot is in back of you because it's zeroing in. The second one was in front, and the third one was usually in there. Fortunately, this was a classic way, and the lieutenant said, "Let's get the f out of here." There were guys that took cover under trees, they were all killed. We were taught wrong to take cover under trees, because when you do, the shell hits the tree, explodes, and all the shrapnel comes down so you don't get away from it, where if you were on the ground, the shell would dig in a little bit when it exploded so the shrapnel would tend to go up at an angle, so you had a good chance of getting away from it. This guy said, "Let's get out of here." Fortunately, we missed that, but that was our first battle.
MG: Is that when they say the acorn became golden?
AG: No, I don't remember why they call it golden, but when the division was first started it was by a forest, I think, somewhere in the Middle West. I think the information is probably in that paperwork there. Anyway, they called it the acorn, and I don't know how it got to be golden. I don't remember. [Editor's Note: The 87th Infantry Division owes its acorn insignia and nickname to the oak trees of Arkansas, where the division was based during World War I.]
MG: I thought it was initial combat that gave the division its nickname.
AG: Not that I'm aware. As far as I know, it's always been that way, but the division was formed far earlier than when I got in.
MG: You talked about the mud. Can you talk a little more about the conditions? It must have been freezing cold.
AG: It was. In fact, some people said that it was the coldest in fifty years, some said seventy five and some said a hundred. One of those DVDs said it was the coldest on record, so you can imagine how cold it was. A lot of our group was freezing to death, because we didn't have proper clothing and I think it was General Bradley in the spring of '44 didn't figure that the war was going to last until winter of '44, and so we never got warm clothing. One thing that I did was write to my folks and they sent me fur-lined gloves and I kept them nice by putting the woolen gloves over that that we were issued. When I was wounded, there was a medic that actually took them from me while I was unconscious, but I didn't need them anymore and he could use them, so I didn't mind that. A lot of things happened in the Bulge. [Editor's Note: Omar Bradley was a U.S. Army general and field commander in Europe during World War II.]
MG: Well, before we get too into it.
AG: Yes, okay.
MG: You talked about having a hot meal on Christmas.
MG: Was there any way your unit celebrated the New Year?
AG: No, we were in combat by that time. In fact, the Battle of the Bulge ended just about three weeks after New Year's, and it lasted for something like five or six weeks. It wasn't very long, but it was very active. A lot of people don't realize why it was called the Battle of the Bulge. It's because our frontlines were stretched out about ten miles, and they hit us in the middle, forming the Bulge. The reason for that was that they were virtually out of fuel, and we had a fuel dump, fuel supply, in Antwerp, Belgium, and that's what they were after. A lot of guys, including myself, still feel that if the Germans had broken through we'd be speaking German today, and I'd probably be dead because of my religion. Any more questions?
MG: Well, I was going to ask, as we go along and you are talking about how the troops advance, if you could talk about the different cities you would go through.
AG: Okay, I don't remember most of them. Metz was the first time we went into combat in northern France. We bypassed Paris because both sides agreed not to fight in Paris, not to destroy that city.
When we first went over, we were in a town called Knutsford, England, and it was in the western side of England. One of the first things that I did was go to a bakery in order to get some bread. The people there spoke in Cockney accent and a very deep one. I asked him how much it was, and he said, "Two pence, a penny" in a strong accent. I didn't know what he was talking about. I stuck out a lot of coins, and he took what he wanted. I'm sure he didn't cheat me, but that was quite an experience.
Also, they wanted volunteers. Now, in the Army, you don't volunteer for anything, but it seemed very, I don't know, I just got an idea that volunteering would be a good thing to do then. It turns out that if you volunteered, you drilled with the company one day, the next day you were on KP [kitchen patrol], and the third day, you'd get a day off. That would continue, I think we were there something like maybe three or four weeks, something like that, and it was because of that I was able to get a day pass to go to London. I was there in the middle of what they call doodlebug raids, and they were gasoline fired jets [rockets] that they'd shoot off from Germany and time it such that the fuel would run out over England but they couldn't be any more accurate than that. With the first one, I ran for cover. I was in an underground railroad station, and nobody else was. I soon found out that you could tell where they were going to land because with artillery you can hear them going up and coming down. With mortar, you can hear them going up, but you can't hear them coming down. That's what these jets sounded like. You could tell basically where they were going to land by no sound. When other people started heading into the subway station, then I did also. There were whole blocks that were knocked out by these blockbuster bombs. They did a lot of damage there. What the British Air Force were doing, I think it was Spitfires. What they'd do is get next to these flying bombs that were coming in and tip the wing, so steer it in a different direction, so it wouldn't get over to England. [Editor's Note: The German V-1 was a flying bomb, nicknamed the buzz bomb or doodlebug, launched from ground launchers or from the air and aimed mainly at London. Of the 10,000 V-1s launched against England between 1943 and 1945, 3,957 were shot down and 2,419 reached London. In September 1944, the Germans launched the first V-2 bombardment rocket from the Netherlands, which crashed in northwest London, killing three and injuring seventeen. From September 1944 until March 1945, 1,054 rockets hit England, and of that total, 517 crashed in London, killing over 2,700 Londoners. The Spitfire was a fighter plane used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. ("V-weapons," The Oxford Companion to World War II, pgs. 978-979)]
The Germans planned for a long time for this war, and one of the things that they did was for the barrels of railroad guns, which were very large guns, they'd use those as chimneys in factories to cover them. Once the war broke out, then the factories disappear and those barrels became part of the railroad gun. There's a lot of things they planned on. Now, I didn't think of this until my son pointed it out, and that was that we were actually the cause of the rise of Hitler. The reason so is that the reparations [after World War I] were really great, so the Germans had tremendous inflation. In fact, there's a story that it took something like a bushel of money in order to buy a loaf of bread. It was that bad. The Allies caused this by all these rough reparations. It was just ready for somebody like Hitler to come in. A lot of people think that it was only six million Jews that were killed in the concentration camps, but it was something like two million Christians and many, many, I don't even remember how many people that had some kind of handicap. Even if it was a little limp or something like that, they were not Aryan, and so they had to be destroyed.
MG: I wanted to ask your relationship with your bazooka partner. Was it important that you work well together?
AG: Yes, sure.
MG: What was your relationship like?
AG: It was good. It had to be good. When we got out, well, first of all, a lot of us didn't know what we wanted to do when we got out. I knew. Oh, I went through an anti-personnel minefield and didn't know that it was a minefield until I got through it.
MG: When and where was that?
AG: That was in the Bulge area.
MG: In Belgium or Luxembourg?
AG: It was probably Belgium. There's a lot of things that I'm not clear about anymore. It was a long time ago. Anyway, these were Bouncing Bettys. Where if you trigger them, they'd jump up in the air, and they were buried, that it would jump up in the air about five or six feet and steel balls would come crashing down. The only way you could get away from it was to hit the ground real fast and hope that the balls went over you. There was a [friend] of mine. He was in the same platoon but he got wounded before we got to the Battle of the Bulge area. A shot went off and actually took out a piece of his skull and brain, but he turned out to be a very top-notch doctor teaching other doctors. He was actually married to, his wife was governor of New Hampshire, under the Reagan Administration. I hope to see him next time I go up to New Hampshire. I have met with him a few times and we used to meet at the VA [Veterans Administration] hospital in, I forget the name of the town, White River Junction. Can you excuse me a minute? I have to run. [Editor's Note: Mr. Goldschmidt is referring to Albert Roy, who went on to become an optometrist. His wife Vesta M. Roy served as the acting governor of New Hampshire from December 29, 1982 to January 6, 1983 after Governor Hugh J. Gallen died in office. The jumping anti-personnel German S-Mine (Springenmine) was buried with only the prongs of the trigger mechanism visible. When stepped on, a shrapnel-filled canister was blown upwards from the mine's casing to chest height, where it exploded.]
AG: That soda wanted to come out.
MG: Yes, we had lots to drink.
AG: It was a lot of bunkers and a concrete wall that was built.
MG: The Maginot Line.
AG: Yes, Maginot, but also the Siegfried Line.
MG: Yes, that was the next thing I was going to ask you about from the notes I have.
MG: There is something, "Cracking the Siegfried Line." What did that mean? [Editor's Note: The interviewer is referring to An Historical and Pictorial History of the 87th Infantry Division During World War II, 1942-1945, which traces the history of the division and each of its regiments during the Second World War. On January 31, 1945, units of the 347th Infantry Regiment began to advance in Belgium on the Siegfried Line. The Siegfried Line was a series of defensive fortifications built by Germany along its borders with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.]
AG: Well, cracking was to break through.
MG: Was your division involved in that? What did that entail?
AG: I don't remember being involved with that.
MG: It was towards the end of the Bulge.
AG: I was wounded on the 29th.
MG: Here it says, "Division was withdrawn from Luxembourg and sent back into Belgium on January 27th to have the honor of chasing the German invaders completely out of Belgium and of cracking the Siegfried Line."
AG: That must have been after the Bulge, because the Bulge ended on the 25th.
AG: In fact, the war actually didn't end about until July, this is in Europe, I think it was somewhere around June or July, somewhere around there.
MG: V-E Day was in May. [Editor's Note: On May 8, 1945, German forces surrendered to Allied forces, marking the end of World War II in Europe. The day is celebrated as Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day.]
AG: In May, okay, and I think Roosevelt had already died at that time, a little bit before. [Editor's Note: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in office on April 12, 1945.]
MG: Yes, he died in April.
MG: Do you remember hearing about his death?
AG: Yes, I was in a hospital at the time.
AG: Because I got to the hospital on the 29th [of January 1945], and that was a field hospital.
MG: Now, this might sound like a silly question, but how did you know the Bulge was over on the 25th?
AG: Oh, because we're in trucks heading into Germany, yes.
MG: You knew the battle was over. You had broken through.
AG: Yes, right, yes. Not that we had broken through, we had kept the Germans from breaking through. One thing, and there were, and I can repeat this later if you'd like, there were, part of the reason the Germans lost the war is that they really ran out of equipment. For instance, we captured a number of Germans because they couldn't fire. They ran out of small arms ammunition. In fact, there was one time when we were taught to conserve small arms ammunition because it wasn't coming over. One of the letters that I sent home [had to do with shortages]. There were a lot of strikes going on here. I can't justify them, but I can understand it. A phrase that I used in that letter was, "They're striking our lives away." He sent it to a newspaper, and they printed an article quoting that. The people here were striking. If the wages weren't decent, I could understand it, but on the other hand, we needed the equipment.
JM: Yes, I guess I'm going to ask a question. This is all new to me, so the workers here were striking for higher wages. They were building the aircraft.
AG: I'm assuming this.
JM: See, I don't know. I never heard of this. I didn't know this.
AG: Yeah, I'm assuming, but they were striking, yes. That's why [I used] that phrase, "Striking our lives away," because we needed the equipment.
MG: Where were you when you were wounded?
AG: It was four days after the Bulge ended. I was hesitating getting on the third truck in the convoy, and I found out later why the truck blew up. We hit a landmine. After I came to, the medic told me that there wasn't anything left of the truck, and there were nineteen in the truck. Only three lived.
MG: In the third truck?
AG: In the third truck, yes. I was hesitating, and finally they wouldn't let me stall any longer. If I had gotten on one sooner, I wouldn't be talking now.
MG: You were in the second truck instead.
AG: No, I think I was in the third, but I wound up waiting to get on the next one, because there'd be more room. I think that's what the reason was in my mind. I couldn't swear to it.
MG: Where were you headed?
AG: Toward Germany. I never quite got there because I was wounded. Where was it? The city starts with a B.
AG: Bastogne, yes. Is that it?
MG: That is what I have in your notes.
AG: Oh, okay. I think we must have been blown out, and I probably landed bent over quite a bit because I had a squashing in my spine. [Vertebrae] L1 and L2 were squeezed together and have actually healed that way, so I have no motion from that. Also, you know these little tabs on the vertebrate. They're called the transverse processes. I had three of those sheared. In the field hospital, they took an x-ray of me and couldn't find anything. If I didn't move, there was no pain, but the least little movement, then tremendous pain. Finally, they x-rayed me again and found out that I really did have a problem.
MG: You were in a full body cast.
MG: For how long?
AG: Three months. Before coming back to the States, we came back on what was known as Liberty ships. They had a nasty habit of just breaking in half in rough weather. The only clothing I had was pajamas, slippers and I think it was a bathrobe. I'm not sure. I got other clothing when I got back here. [Editor's Note: Liberty ships were mass-produced merchant ships used by the United States to transport freight, troops and fuel during World War II. There was a high percentage of defects in Liberty ships, with one in thirty suffering major fractures. ("Liberty ships," The Oxford Companion to World War II, pg. 540)]
MG: Being in a body cast and recovering.
AG: Oh, yes. Before coming back, the cast was coming down to here, and I couldn't sit up. They had to relieve it over here where my legs bent, so I could sit up. The cast came up all the way to here. That's why they call it a body cast. Now, once they cut the cast off, I had trouble standing up because the cast was giving me support. I had that on for three months, and I got a lot of time off free, that didn't count, furlough that didn't count, which was nice. I was driving around in my father's car with a cast on. I could drive fine. [laughter] I had that on for three months and then a brace for three months. Guys used to go out bowling. The worst bowler set up the pins; they didn't have any automatic pin setters. I was the worst bowler. When I came back, the brace was broken. The rivets had sheared. The doctor asked me what happened. Of course, I didn't know anything. [laughter] It was from bending over that they sheared. I wasn't going to tell him that because he'd probably say, "You stupid fool, what the hell were you doing there?" Then, there was just three months lying around to make sure I was okay. It was nine months I was in the hospital. When I get out, I was already under VA control. Initially, I was getting temporary hundred percent, and then after seven years, they gradually cut me down to twenty percent. I didn't know anything about appealing at all, and it wasn't until much later that I did go through a lot of appeals. I've been a hundred percent for many years now. One thing about the VA though, if they rate you on something and it doesn't come through for many months, you get paid all the way back to when they first approved. I forget how much I got, but it was many thousands of dollars, something like thirty thousand or so. I mentioned that between Social Security and my VA pension, oh, by the way, if you were married you get even more, married and also more for children.
MG: You were talking about the benefits.
AG: Oh, yes, so right now between Social Security and the VA pension, I'm getting a little under fifty thousand a year. You know (LA?)? This is a member of our group. He gets something like three different pensions. He's retired from the Army and I think he was in for something like twenty-two, twenty-three years. The guy's hearing almost doesn't exist. He was in the Vietnam War.
MG: Well, I want to ask you about recovering from an injury. What did you do to pass the time during those nine months?
AG: Oh, well, a lot of it I was home because first I was in Massachusetts General coming back and then they took me over to Utica, New York in, I think it was, Rhoads General Hospital. What did I say first? I was in Massachusetts General, okay, yes. What they'd do is have a train come up after taps, which is the end of the day, and that would be a direct stop to Grand Central Station, New York City. My father would meet me there, the guy lived in New York City obviously, and take me back. Then, in the evening on Sunday, we'd go back and sleep on the train going back and get there by reveille, so we didn't miss any time there. I could never forget this, but with the train making that much noise, all I remember is [making the sound of a train]. When I was finally discharged, the train was so crowded, I think I told you about this already.
AG: Okay, so this is repeating.
MG: What did you do to pass the time when you were in a body cast?
AG: I was in a hospital, I think it was Rhoads General. That was most of the time. I was going home every weekend, and then for the last three months, I wasn't at the hospital at all. I was home. It didn't count, which was nice. Also, the fact that I was wounded and get all this money now is nice because I don't pay any real estate taxes either and that's a few thousand a year.
MG: Were you eventually processed out and discharged?
MG: Where did that take place?
AG: I don't remember, but one thing I can show you because I keep this with me. They offered the service to people and they never took me up on it.
MG: What is this?
AG: My discharge from both sides. That stamp on the front is that my mother had it registered with New York City, I think it was.
MG: Yes, this was stamped in January 1946.
AG: I got out, I think it was, in October of '45. I think that was it.
MG: I think you are right.
AG: It says on the back here that fact that I was promoted to sergeant and so forth.
MG: Yes, let's see.
AG: Then the original one was twice the size, twice in height and twice in width. This is a quarter of a[n] eight-and-a-half-by-eleven sheet, so I made that size.
MG: It is wallet-size that way.
AG: Yeah, that's right.
MG: Do you remember when V-J Day was declared?
AG: Yeah, V-J Day, that was when Japan surrendered. I think it was the end of August, middle of August, somewhere around there. Yeah, I remember it, and I also remember when the Enola Gay actually bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima. While lot of people were killed and there was a lot of aftermath after that because even today I think that there's some problems with kids being born deformed, I think not only did it save American lives but it also saved a lot of Japanese lives. After the first one, they didn't surrender, but after the second one they did. I was at the air show at McGuire Air Force Base on Saturday and it was announced that the Enola Gay was actually a B-25. It was not; it was a B-29. A [B-]25 wouldn't be big enough to carry those bombs. [Editor's Note: The B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. On August 9, 1945, the B-29 Bockscar dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. V-J Day, or Victory over Japan Day, is August 15, 1945, the day that Japan unconditionally surrendered to the United States to bring World War II to an end. On September 2, 1945, the formal surrender was signed onboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.]
AG: I actually had a ride in a B-24 [at] the Air Victory Museum. There was a couple that came up there with a B-17 and a B-25 out of Florida, and a friend of mine was actually holding a spot for me on the 24. As soon as I got on there, it started to move and I was sitting in back. I didn't have my seatbelt on. [There was a] big hole right in front of me, and I was hanging on for life there because if I had fallen it would have been right down.
AG: So, I finally got the belt closed, but I was fighting with it.
JM: Can I just ask one question?
MG: Of course.
JM: I am curious, as far as soldiers from other countries, like the Brits, were you fighting side by side with British or anybody else? Do you remember?
AG: No, it was Americans.
JM: All Americans.
JM: You weren't involved with any other countries.
AG: No, but I did see some of the Free French one time, and there was one kid there. He was twelve years old and fighting. These were volunteers. They helped us quite a bit. I don't remember actually being helped there, but I remember talking to some of those. It was just for a short time that we met. This is something just aside from the war. After I retired from RCA, I got a job. I got a job as a top-level machinist. I learned that in high school. That high school was fantastic. This guy in Germany, he was a German Jew and he was in Poland and he had a Polish accent, not a Jewish accent, so the Germans didn't think of him as a Jew. He got among them and it's amazing how many they killed. I have a book that he wrote and I helped type that out, but I was working with him as a machinist. At the time, I haven't tried it for a long time, but I could actually file something [to a thousandth of an inch]. A lot of people think filing is easy, but not if it's going to be accurate with being flat and accurate as far as dimension is concerned to a thousandth of an inch. I still have a machine shop in my basement [and] make a lot of things there. Anyway, that's well after I got out. That was after I retired from RCA.
MG: When did you become aware of what had happened with the Holocaust? Was it while you were still in the Army?
AG: Yeah, I was still in the Army. I actually had a cousin of my father's. This was after the war ended, and I went back here. He was the head of a musician's group in Britain, the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation]. My father wanted me to meet him on my trips to London, but I don't think he was interested in me being there at all because he took me to lunch and goodbye. That was basically it.
MG: He was a Holocaust survivor.
AG: No, he wasn't, but there was a cousin of my father's that he and his wife were scheduled to go to a concentration camp. They already had their visas, so she was able to get here but he was killed in a concentration camp. This is family, remote somewhat, but still family. There was also a fellow who was in a concentration camp. I met him at RCA, because he was one of the top engineers. He ended up with Alzheimer's [disease], and one of his sons asked me to help take care of him. We'd go out to the Chinese food and so forth. He was telling me some of the forced marches he was on going from camp to camp, and the only reason he survived was that the adults were giving him little pieces of their bread. He weighed, I think it was something like, eighty pounds when he was liberated, and he was in the hospital for, I don't know whether, three or six months, something like that before they felt he was strong enough to come here. The guy was very smart. All of his family was killed except for him. I learned about what happened over there from this guy. Finally, Alzheimer's took him, and he started swearing and all this sort of stuff as things go.
JM: What do you remember about the German soldier as far as uniforms?
AG: Well, they certainly were a lot better equipped than we were.
JM: I heard they had mostly all wool uniforms in the wintertime.
AG: They had good clothing for the weather, that's right. We did not. That's why a lot of our guys froze to death.
JM: I went to a reenactment back home about two years ago, Art. It was in July, and they had the Germans. We were at the bar with the Germans, the Americans, they were all reenactors, so we got pictures of them. It's so cool. We asked them, "How do you guys do this?" [wearing a] wool uniform in the middle of July. It was really hot." He said, "To be honest with you, out of respect, we make this as authentic as we can." They did. The cars, the German cars, the uniforms. They blew up a pretend bridge, the smoke. I was intrigued by this. Then, we went in the base camp and saw both sides, a little hospital set up for the Americans and the Germans.
JM: He said that they had the better quality uniforms. I was sad to hear that.
AG: Oh, yeah. That was one of our problems. General Bradley made an assumption that was wrong.
JM: You mentioned a general. Do you remember when we met Ike, he said he served under Patton?
AG: No, no. Ike was Eisenhower.
JM: Oh, it's Eisenhower. No, Ike the gentleman we met at the Battle of the Bulge, that Ike. [Editor's Note: General Dwight D. Eisenhower, nicknamed Ike, served as the supreme Allied commander in Europe during World War II. Eisenhower served as the U.S. president from 1953 to 1961.]
AG: Oh, I don't remember.
JM: Yeah, he served under Patton. You mentioned Bradley.
JM: What general would you say was the one you served under, one up the food chain?
AG: I think his name was Tupper [Culin].
JM: Tupper, okay.
AG: Yeah, he was a one star, a brigadier, and the job called for two stars. He was bucking for that second star. [Editor's Note: Brigadier General and then Major General Frank Culin served as the commander of the 87th Infantry Division from April 1944 until the end of the war. Colonel Sevier R. Tupper commanded the 347th Infantry Regiment.] That's why he wanted us to hold when we were surrounded on three sides. We were supposed to have a .50 caliber machine gun on the truck. All we could get was a .30. They sent me back, I don't remember why, to division headquarters, and there, on both sides of the barber tent, was a .50. We couldn't get them. There's a lot of things that rear echelon got that we could not get, clothing and so forth. That's not the way it should be. The frontline should get the stuff first. [Editor's Note: Mr. Goldschmidt is referring to 37 mm artillery and 57 mm artillery.]
JM: Yeah, that kind of surprised me to hear that, too. I was confused with that.
AG: Yeah, and that's not the way it should've been.
MG: Before we talk about coming home and transitioning to civilian life, were there any other stories or things you want to tell us about your time overseas, anything we skipped?
AG: Did I tell you about sending a letter over to my folks? From the hospital, after I got to the hospital in England, I sent a letter home to my folks. It got there a day before the telegram from the War Department. They got it just the day before, as I said. It said that I had a CF wound, which in my mind I would interpret as being a compound fracture. Well, you don't live with a compound fracture because a compound fracture is where the bone sticks out past the skin and this probably would've broken the spinal cord. It was actually a compression fracture, which was bad enough. About two-and-a-half years ago, well, the pain had gone away for a long time because I used to have very severe pain, I was hit by a car, hit in the back, and was knocked down. Since then, the pain has come back, so I still have a lot of pain now. I've gone through acupuncture and a lot of other things, and it didn't help.
MG: What did you say in that letter home?
AG: Oh, just that I was fine. I told my mother I was okay.
AG: That was basically it.
MG: Had you been sending and receiving letters home previously?
AG: Yes, but it takes a long time. We didn't have any Internet. We didn't have any cell phones. It was a long time before you got a letter, and you couldn't necessarily send it when you wanted to. From the field, how can you send anything? You'd see movies about Bob Hope and so forth coming around to entertain. I never saw any of that. That was for people in the back. [Editor's Note: For almost fifty years, from World War II until the Persian Gulf War, entertainer Bob Hope performed shows for the United Service Organizations or USO, an organization that provides morale and recreation services for the U.S. military.]
MG: Did you ever get any relief or break or day pass somewhere?
AG: Well, I got a day pass to England.
MG: That was early on.
AG: To Luxembourg.
MG: Oh, okay.
MG: What did you do on that?
AG: Well, it was a day pass also when I was in England, about the doodlebugs.
AG: After the Bulge ended, my partner on bazooka, I and another fellow from division got a one-day pass into Luxembourg City.
MG: We can take a break.
MG: We were talking about your day in Luxembourg.
AG: Yes. We had been living in foxholes for about six weeks. The first thing we did was head for a public bath. I don't know how we got clean clothes, but we did. We had to carry our weapons with us. I went to a movie, people looking at us because we had guns with us. Then, we went to an ice cream parlor. Then, the day was over, and we went back. Yeah, I don't know how bad I must have smelled or something, but we did a lot of living in foxholes.
MG: Tell us what that is like to be in a foxhole for six weeks.
AG: Not real great. I don't know, but you learn to live with it. There were times where I was standing guard in a wooded area, and after about twenty minutes, because you're trying to concentrate because your life and the lives of your buddies depend upon it, the trees would start moving. That's what it felt like. In Bonnerue, which is the last place of battle, I was stationed as a guard in a barn. When the cows moved, it seemed like somebody creeping up behind you. That's also feeling that they can't put in a movie. [There are] a lot of things they can't put in a movie or don't want to because people would get upset, you know, seeing some of the gore that was there.
MG: When you were in the hospital in Massachusetts and then New York, would your family come visit you there?
AG: No, it was quite a distance, but I did get home on weekends.
MG: What was it like to finally see them after such a long time and having been through so much?
AG: Well, it was really great naturally. Did I tell you about the day I was discharged?
MG: Tell us again.
AG: The train was so crowded that I went to the club car and walking past the cop.
MG: Oh, right, with the Southern Comfort.
AG: Yeah, right, yeah, right. It was the only time that I was so drunk that I couldn't walk a straight line, and I remember trying to concentrate. [laughter] The cop didn't say anything. I had on my uniform with the Ruptured Duck. You know what that is, the Ruptured Duck? I don't know why they call it that, but there's a picture of it here. [Editor's Note: The Honorable Service Lapel Button was awarded to honorably discharged military servicemen. The servicemen then wore it on their uniforms when they were travelling home. It was nicknamed the Ruptured Duck.]
MG: Say for the record what that means.
AG: Well, it was a discharge emblem. You got it when you were actually discharged. One of the things that really bothered me is I think I was only out for a day, I still had my uniform, and I wanted to go to the bowling alley in the Bronx, New York. They wouldn't let me bowl because drinking wasn't allowed, and they figured I was underage, bologna. I was already nineteen in combat. Anyway, they didn't let me bowl, and I was really pissed. I told them I didn't want to have liquor. I just wanted to bowl. They wouldn't let me. You know how I felt. There were times when I was treated here in uniform where they didn't have any soda at the roadside stand, but they did for other people. They didn't have any cold [drinks for me]. [They gave it to] other people, but didn't have any for me.
MG: I am not sure what you mean.
JM: I am missing this.
AG: They apparently didn't like military people.
MG: Who didn't?
JM: After World War II? See, I have a hard time understanding this.
MG: I thought after World War II there was a wonderful welcome home.
AG: Well, generally, but this was in the South, and it was different in the South.
MG: Okay, what were you doing in the South?
AG: Don't remember. I know that when I was at I think it was Fort Jackson that if you came back drunk, you'd get a shot of penicillin.
JM: Venereal disease.
AG: Venereal disease, yes. The place was really loaded with prostitutes, and eventually they just wouldn't let you go there anymore on a pass.
JM: Say all of us went to the roadside stand. You're in uniform, and Molly and I are not. They would serve us the cold soda, but you they would not serve.
AG: That's right.
JM: That really does surprise me, yeah, it does.
AG: That's right. A number of years later, remember the American Youth Hostels. Have you heard of them?
AG: It's a group, and I joined them up in New York City, that was involved with folk singing, going on trips, bicycle, skiing, things of this nature, where they'd hire a bus and we'd leave somewhere around five-thirty on Friday, get up there the next morning to the ski slopes. In fact, it was just a little before this that I met my wife. We had a common friend, and unfortunately, he died of pancreatic cancer a few years ago. This is after he had been operated on, and it came back, which very often happens with pancreatic cancers. It's a very bad one. My wife, I hadn't known her at that time. This friend knew her and wanted to get her out of the house. She had just broken an ankle skiing, which can happen if you don't do things properly. We carried her in a cross-armed carry, you know, like this, down in Downtown Manhattan in the Bowery area. We went to a little restaurant where you sit on stools on the counter. We both got, what do they call it, something tartare? [Editor's Note: Hosteling International USA, or American Youth Hostels, is an organization that provides inexpensive accommodations for travelers around the world.]
MG: Steak tartare?
AG: Steak tartare, yes. We found we both liked it. That was the end of it for a while. Then, I get a call from her. She was leading a trip to Jones Beach, and I was the only one that she knew that had a car. [laughter] That's why she called. [laughter]
JM: That's funny.
AG: We went on the trip. It was a nasty day. It wasn't raining, but it was very windy, cloudy. Nobody showed up except the two of us. We walked along the beach, and we enjoyed the look of hermit crabs making the trail and things of this nature. We found out we both liked outdoor activity and so forth. She used to lead walking trips for the American Youth Hostels. There was one time when we went on a skiing trip through the youth hostels. I used to lead bicycle trips, and I would be in the back to repair the bikes as they went bad. My other buddy that died of pancreatic cancer, he was the leader in front. I'd pick up the strays and repair the bikes and get back on. I was always good with my hands.
MG: What was your wife's name and when did you meet her?
AG: I met her when we picked her up with the cross-armed carry.
MG: Do you remember what year that was?
AG: I think it was around 1955, somewhere around there. I don't remember exactly.
JM: Well, Art, you have had a lot of stuff jammed in your little head today.
MG: Yes, we covered a lot.
JM: You've covered a lot of stuff and pulling out the past, and it's amazing that you remember.
AG: Yes, I used to call her (Bern?) for short. One of the things that she said was, "Oh, you ought to open up a restaurant," because I'm called Art and call it (Art Bern's?) Restaurant. [laughter]
JM: Oh, I like that. Now, that's cute. That is cute. I like that.
MG: Good idea.
AG: She was a fine lady. She had master's [degree] in anthropology. For her thesis, she went up to an Indian reservation in Newfoundland, and one of the Indians wanted to marry her.
MG: What year did you end up getting married?
AG: [In 1958], I think I was thirty-three at the time, and I'm ninety now.
MG: I am terrible at math. Fifty-seven years ago?
AG: Yeah, I guess that's it, yeah. She was born in August [on the] 21st, I think it was, of 1926.
MG: When you got back from the war, did you go right into school and work?
AG: I tried to get into school, but everybody was getting out [of the military] and you couldn't get there. In fact, I sent to, I'm trying to think of the university, I think it's in northern New York. I asked for application but instead of sending an application, they said, "We're tied up already for two years."
MG: I think that was Rensselaer Polytech. [Editor's Note: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is located in Troy, New York.]
AG: That's right, it was, yes.
AG: Yes. I started college while I was still working full-time. I think you have that down already.
MG: First for the Radio Receptor Company?
MG: Then you went to Freed Electronic and Controls.
AG: Right, and then RCA.
MG: How long did you work at RCA for?
AG: Twenty-five and three-quarter years and then retired.
MG: Why not twenty-six years?
AG: I'm sorry, it was twenty-six, I guess, twenty-six and a half, something like that, yes.
MG: Tell me about your work there. What were your roles and responsibilities, and how did your job change over time?
AG: Oh, well, I was electronic engineer and finally got up to [be the highest ranking engineer]. The lowest class was, it went by letter, it was a C-engineer, then I got up to be a AA, which was the highest. Then, I was put on a layoff list, and my wife at the time was in the hospital from breast cancer. At the time, they used to remove all the muscle, and it was the left side. What I did was to set up a pulley system going from the living room into the kitchen. If she ever went past there, she'd use that. The doctor told her, the surgeon, said that she'll probably never have use of the arm, but she got full use of it.
AG: When people tell me something, I find it hard to believe because my mind is such that it immediately goes to work, and I can usually figure out a way to do it. I mean, that's the way I am, just like I can react fast before thinking about it and not realize what the situation is initially.
MG: You must have seen technology change so much in your job at RCA.
AG: Oh, yes, yes. In fact, the transistor was invented, I think, in 1947, '8, something like that, by Bell Labs. I started working with transistors and then got into integrated circuits. I was a design engineer. I used to be picked on to review other people's designs, other engineers' designs. They called it a Design Review Committee. Also, my manager, my leader, when somebody came in for a[n] interview, he wanted me and himself to interview this person and then we'd check afterwards and we'd both agreed fully whether to hire or not to.
MG: In the notes you gave me, you said you had a manager you thought was an anti-Semite.
MG: Was that the same guy?
AG: No, not at all.
MG: Were you being discriminated against by this other manager?
AG: Yeah. For one thing, he had a, this was in RCA in Camden, I was on loan there from Morristown. We were at a meeting one time, and he was friends with the vice president that was in the meeting. He was yelling at me in the meeting for something I had absolutely nothing to do with. I was so pissed off that I didn't go to work the next day. When I did go to work, they saw me in the hall and called me into a conference room. I told him, "I had nothing to do with what you're saying," and I said, "This is not the first time you've done stuff like this." He said, "I'm apologizing for this time, not for the other times." There was one other Jew in my group and also a black fellow, and we all felt that he was down on all of us. He was the kind of guy that he would try and get on an invention write up, even though he has nothing to do with it. There was another fellow. He was in the transmitter group rather than servomechanisms. As far as servomechanisms is concerned, I designed a servo, which was to control the gun on a ship, actually, a launcher, so that it would stay steady, even though the ship was rolling, yawing and so forth. The technician's union had a ruling where an engineer couldn't work by himself. There was a tech that was supposed to come in, and he didn't show up. I went and worked myself. The next day he files a grievance. The manager was all set to give in. He knew that we had both planned to come in. I said, "What if he goes home, sees a movie that he likes and stays home and watches it and decides to come in the next day, file a grievance, and if he wins, he gets paid for it." Well, at that point, the manager took my side. The union backed down. I wouldn't let anything get by me. I still don't. [laughter] I don't know whether it's a fault or what.
MG: Well, I want to hear more about your married and family life.
AG: Well, my wife and I were fairly compatible, and we certainly loved our children very, very much. Whenever I suggested giving something to them like money for instance, she said, "You don't have to ask me, just do it," but I said, "I still want you to know it." When shopping for furniture, she would insist that I come along and make sure that we both liked the same stuff. She was that kind of person.
MG: When were your children born and what are their names?
AG: My daughter was born in 1959, (Nina?). Her last name is (Gerhold?) now, so (Nina?) Goldschmidt to (Nina Gerhold?), you don't change initials. [laughter] She's a pretty smart lady. My son also is smart, but that guy, he couldn't be any further right politically.
MG: When was he born?
AG: He was two years younger, so he was born in '62, July 7th. One interesting thing is there were five patents with my name on them. The first one that was issued, now you never know when they're going to be issued, but the first one that was issued was issued on my daughter's birthday. Then, the next one I was hoping would issue on my son's birthday, but it was issued on a Friday and his birthday was on a Sunday just a couple days later.
MG: Close enough.
AG: Close enough, right.
MG: What were the patents for?
AG: Electronic things. In fact, if you Google for some of these, you'd probably find them, and it could be under Arthur Goldschmidt, Arthur M. Goldschmidt, A.M. Goldschmidt, A. Goldschmidt, anyway you can figure.
MG: What other memories do you have of raising your children and living in New Jersey?
AG: Well, one thing, a lot of kids are afraid of lightning. Well, what I did was we'd have the door open and the storm door there. When we'd see the flash, we started counting seconds because light travels at 186,000 miles a second, which is pretty much instantaneous. In fact, electricity through wire travels almost that fast, not quite. We'd count the seconds and figure out how far away it was. There was no harm done, so they weren't afraid of lightning. My grandmother was deathly afraid of lightning. She came over here with, I think, a sister when she was something like sixteen years old, just the two of them and came to Ellis Island, as a lot of these things are. A lot of names get changed there. Here's something I didn't tell you about my experience. My father was born in Germany. His parents were over here, naturalized, and then they went back there for a few years, so he was born there. In the military, they ask you where your father was born. I started to say, "Well, he was born in Germany under these conditions." I finally said, the hell with it, "He was born here." They never questioned it.
JM: Was your wife's family from Germany as well?
AG: No, her mother was from Hungary and possibly her father was also. I'm not sure. In fact, her father was a telegraph operator for Western Union, and this was with a key. Do you know what I mean? He took me to Grand Central to the big place where they had fights.
JM: Madison Square Garden?
AG: Yeah, I guess it was, yeah. What did you say?
JM: Madison Square Garden?
AG: Madison Square Garden, that's it, yes, with ringside seats. A message comes in while he's talking to somebody. He keeps talking for quite a while, and finally he goes back and taps out an answer. I said, "Well, how do you remember?" He said, "Well, at first you start off remembering just letters and then it's words and then it's sentences and then it's whole paragraphs." [Editor's Note: Western Union used Morse code to transmit telegraphs. The code assigned a set of dots, short marks, and dashes, long marks, to letters and numbers based on the frequency of use. Telegraph operators were able to understand the code by listening to the clicking sound of the receiver, before the code was translated into English. In 1929, 200 million telegraphs were sent worldwide. On January 27, 2006, Western Union sent its last telegraph.]
AG: I'd heard of people that could do this. I got so I used to know code, and I was a ham [amateur radio operator] for quite a while. I could get words but not sentences. I couldn't go that far.
MG: Did you share with your family about your military experiences of what you went through in the war?
AG: I don't remember ever doing that, and this is pretty common about guys that get out.
MG: I was curious when you started to feel the effects of your PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and how you started to deal with that.
AG: Well, I didn't realize it for a long time, and then there was another fellow, Joanie knows him, Lloyd Orth.
JM: I've never met him.
AG: Oh, you never met him? Okay, that was before your time.
JM: Yeah, right.
AG: He was this ambulance driver, and you heard his stories certainly.
MG: I haven't.
AG: Well, not here but in the DVDs.
MG: Oh, right.
AG: He was in the first one and the second, not the third. He was dead by the third one. In fact, he's the one I went over to Luxembourg with. The guy was drunk all the time, and I didn't like the way he talked to women, dirty words and stuff like that. I sort of shriveled when he talked to them because I was with him. There was one time, there was a steep slope from the hotel going down to the road and I just almost let that wheelchair go by. He probably would've been killed in the road, but I just couldn't do it. [laughter] We shared a room over there because it's cheaper that way, and I'd help him a lot of different ways. For instance, there was one time when he was stuck in the toilet with the door locked. He couldn't get up. I think he had messed his pants, and he fell. What I had to do was crawl under on my back, you know, the way I learned in the military.
JM: Oh, my gosh.
AG: Under the door in order to get to him. I used to open the door for him when we're leaving the room. This one time I wanted to see what would happen. I didn't open the door for him. We just waited there. I said, "Why didn't you open the door?" He said, "Well, I don't have as much education as you do." He was prejudice right there. [laughter]
JM: Oh, my.
MG: What was the purpose of this trip to Luxembourg?
AG: We were invited over there by these people here. It's mentioned on there.
MG: When did you start getting involved in these veteran groups? Say which ones you are involved with.
AG: Well, at first I was going to different assisted living places, and we talked to the veterans there about things. I knew a lot about what the VA could do for you. We'd both talk to the veterans there. Then, a number of years ago, I don't know how long you've been with the group, Joanie, do you remember?
JM: Probably 2011, probably almost five years I think.
AG: Okay, then it was about a year earlier for me, and he invited me to come to this meeting. This is a group of Vietnam people. I like helping veterans and I thought I was going to go there to help people, and it turns out that I got all the help. You know with PTSD or combat fatigue or whatever you call it, it's the same thing, that you never lose it. You just learn somewhat how to live with it.
MG: What have you found that helps?
AG: Well, one thing that helps and this is going back quite a number of years, I had an aunt that was fifty-two and she died of a heart attack and the doctor told me that if she hadn't panicked she probably would've gotten through it. I figured from that time I was going to teach myself not to panic, and I can do that now.
MG: I asked about dealing with PTSD and what helps.
AG: Well, this group has helped quite a bit, and this is why I'm saying that they may not want you to come in and talk to them.
AG: Because generally we don't have any outsiders in there, and it's no insult there.
MG: I understand completely.
AG: Because we open up completely, and we're liable to start crying there, things of this nature.
MG: That's fine.
AG: Because these guys have serious PTSD and also Agent Orange. According to statistics, sixty percent die between the age of sixty-eight and seventy-two. Well, you know Billy, he's had something like three heart surgeries and he's got, what do you call that? [Editor's Note: The chemical defoliant Agent Orange, which the United States government used in Vietnam to clear jungles, causes a number of serious health problems in humans, including cancer.]
AG: No, no, the leg.
JM: Oh, gout.
AG: Gout, yes, right. Ben Franklin also had very serious gout. Anyway, he got me involved in the group.
MG: Joan, do you have any questions that you think I forgot to ask?
JM: No, I think you did a great job. One thing I would like to ask you, as far as the Tuskegee Airmen. [Editor's Note: The Tuskegee airman were African American Army Air Corps pilots during World War II.]
JM: Can you tell me as far as at that time, you had African Americans, you had Native American-Indian, you had a little bit of everybody. Was that an issue, or did everybody have a mission?
AG: No, black was a definite issue. In fact, there was a woman that I knew in the North Bronx that was very, very dark. She went to school with Madame Chiang Kai-shek in the Middle West, you know, to college there, to university. She couldn't get any job other than taking care of kids as a nanny. She had three brothers that were so light that they passed for white. They were in the Navy, where in the Navy, blacks only could be just servant types. [Editor's Note: Soong Mei-Ling, wife of Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, graduated from Wellesley College in 1917.]
JM: What about in the war overseas?
JM: Say you were in Belgium, on the battlefield, was that even an issue?
AG: Black? No, well, it wasn't for me certainly. The attitude was that as soon as the fighting started, the blacks would run, which is bologna. No, but that was the attitude [of] a lot of people. Discrimination. The Tuskegee airmen had a lot of discrimination. Did you see the story about that? There was a lot of that where they were great fighters. After a while, they were able to because the white fighter pilots weren't available, that they actually used these guys.
AG: They found out that with the whites, as soon as the Germans attacked, they'd go off after the Germans and leave the bombers unprotected. These airman, they never lost a bomber, but they did lose some of their own planes. [Editor's Note: Mr. Goldschmidt is referring to fighter planes escorting formations of bombers.]
JM: A lot of the planes were just kind of put together. They were not the safest things to be flying. I always thought we had the best of the best equipment, and that was not so.
AG: Well, for a long time, they had to wait for modern planes, yes. Have you seen the movie?
AG: Okay, because I have a copy of the disc at home, illegal, but I have it. [laughter]
MG: Speaking of planes, you mentioned at lunch that you flew for a little while.
AG: Yeah, I had about two hundred hours before I stopped.
MG: When did you do that?
AG: Before going to Kwajalein. [Editor's Note: Kwajalein is an atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.]
MG: During training?
AG: No, this is not military. This is civilian.
AG: I was working for RCA, and they sent me down to the Marshall Islands to a place called Kwajalein Atoll. An atoll is a sunken volcano. That's where I got the forty-five-dollar ticket for riding a bicycle. [laughter]
MG: Getting flight hours.
AG: Oh, I always wanted to fly. I used to work for RCA as you know, and at lunchtime, there was an airport that was just about half, three-quarters of a mile away. It's been gone for a long time now. I was living in New York City. There was no chance. I decided once I got to RCA that I'd go up for a flight, and if I didn't get sick, I'm taking lessons. That's just what happened. I took lessons. I was joined with three people in a plane. It was called a [Best Off] Skyranger, I think. That thing looked like a Stinson. I don't know if you know what a Stinson looks like, but it was very heavy, very large, underpowered. It just had an eighty-five-horse [power] engine. It should've had something like a hundred or 105. It was really a ground lover. I took lessons there, and it was common to actually solo something like ten, twelve hours, something like that. I soloed in eight. I remember the instructor used to say on landing, "Okay, now, once you touch down, hold it back. Hold it back," because it was a stick rather than a yoke. One time, he gets out and says, "Okay, go ahead." Then, coming back, coming on my own, I kept repeating those words to myself. I used to love doing a number of things, for one thing, hit your own slipstream. That's when you go around and you can tell that you're at exactly the same altitude, because it's very easy to go up or down slightly with a 360-degree turn and this is a sharp turn, where you're banking quite a bit.
AG: Yes, the plane would shake. It's not the best for the plane, but you know you're in a slipstream. Also, I liked to do what's called hammerhead stalls, where you'd go up until you were almost stalling and then come down the same way. Also, another thing that I liked to do is called slipping, where you'd purposely come in high when you're landing. Here's the runway, you'd come in like this tilted and just before you touch down you kick it straight and you land. You lose a lot of altitude that way, because you don't have much lift.
MG: Is there anything else you want to add to the record?
JM: Tell her your motorcycle experience, your motorcycle experience, Art.
AG: RCA was hesitating to let me take my motorcycle out, because they were concerned about my getting hurt. This was going to White Sands Missile Range [in New Mexico] just north of El Paso. Oh, by the way, I don't know if it still is, but the range there was listed in Jane's Fighting Ships. It was the largest in the world. The two buildings [are] about a mile, a mile and a quarter apart from the stern and the bow, but it was listed in Jane's Fighting Ships. [Editor's Note: First
published in 1898, Jane's Fighting Ships is an annual reference publication of the world's warships.] I was there to take care of some equipment. There was a brigadier general that comes there one time and balls me out for things not working properly. I had absolutely nothing to do with it because my equipment was working. In fact, this was for the Navy there. I used to fire a missile from the ground. Well, I forget the name of the aircraft company I was actually building this missile for. It was a surface-to-air missile, called a SAM, S-A-M. While they were trying to get the missile going, I was firing off my own missiles. I had a camera on that would take one shot and I could send off from the ground. These Navy guys were telling these people from, I think it was McDonnell Douglas, and said, "If I can get them off, how come you can't?" Then, there was a brigadier general that came. I was being balled out for doing something, which wasn't the fault of my equipment. My manager was right there, not opening his mouth one little bit. I should've told him to go fuck himself and quit right there. [laughter] He was that kind of guy. That's something I had to go through.
MG: What about the motorcycle?
AG: I had my motorcycle down there because I told them, "If I can't take my motorcycle, I'm not going." They insisted I take a car as well. I had to purge the bike, which means getting the fuel and fumes out and also all the oil out. It had to be crated. They used to fly in from Philadelphia to, what was that city I mentioned in Texas?
MG: El Paso.
AG: El Paso, yes. The twin cities in Texas, what's the name again?
MG: El Paso?
AG: No, no.
MG: San Antonio or Houston?
AG: That's right, yes. Yeah, they're on each side of a river. That's as far as you could take it because of the size of the plane. They weren't flying 747s anymore into Texas. It was a 727, and the crate was too big for that. There was a freak snowstorm, after I got the oil and fuel back so I could ride. It was a freak snowstorm, and this was in, I think it was, January. I forget which year, somewhere in the early '70s. I found out about the storm, and each town I got to, I kept checking to see where it was. After I got there, when I found out it was just in the next town, I stayed overnight. I started out, the next morning, I had to wait until something like ten o'clock, so I could ensure that there was no snow on the ground anymore, on the roads. I was supposed to be there at eight o'clock the next morning, and I still had five hundred miles to go. I had a tremendous bike though. It was a BMW, two cylinders, horizontally opposed, so there was no vibration at all. You could lean it down to where it still wouldn't touch the ground and it still wouldn't slide out.
MG: How many cc's [cubic centimeters]?
AG: 750. My daughter was riding a 350 [cc] Honda at twelve years old.
MG: That is amazing. [laughter]
AG: Yeah, she was riding it in the RCA parking lot on the weekend. No, she couldn't take it out on the road obviously.
AG: No, she was pretty good.
AG: When the road finally cleared up, I had so far to go. I opened it up. I think I was doing something like eighty-five or so, and in one underpass, no snow. The bike went into what is known as a, I forget, where the steering wheel, where the head was, would actually change and build increasingly like that. You couldn't stay on anymore, and I was thrown. The helmet came off because the strap broke. The helmets weren't terribly good in those days. I was tumbling over quite a bit. The bike was broken to some extent. The fairing is the part that goes in front. Are you familiar with that?
AG: To break the wind.
MG: Okay, yes.
AG: The one I had, the headlight would actually turn with that so you could see if you're going around a turn, where most of them, the light still stays the way it was before.
MG: You were thrown.
AG: I was thrown. If it wasn't for truckers, I don't know if I'd ever get on the bike again, but I had no choice.
AG: They helped me back on, and I went to the nearest gas station and got a couple of thick bars that were about five-sixteenths of an inch and made a (split?) for the fairing. I used clamps that hold on hoses for a car. That's what I used to hold the bars on. When I got to White Sands, I got friendly with the machinist there, and he welded the aluminum for me, Heliarcing. Also, I had learned how to use machines in high school and talking to him I told him I would like to make a model cannon. He let me use his lathe and even got me a piece of brass. It was about this long and about this diameter. I still have that cannon today. If you're in the area, I'll bring it and show it to you.
MG: Sounds good.
AG: I made it to fire a quarter-inch ball using black powder. Now, why that? Because in the desert, they had fragments from practice aerial grenades that the planes would drop because these things didn't explode, but on impact, the plastic that was holding them broke. I'd dig out the quarter-inch ball and use that. That's what I used to determine what the barrel should be like. I also made a ramrod for it as well as a scoop, one on each end. I made the cannon, and what I did was go to a library and get out a picture. I think it was a late 1700s ship's cannon. I enlarged that in proportion to the piece of brass that I had. Then, I figured out how much black powder I should use, and I fired it with three times that, testing it just to make sure that the barrel would take it. A quarter-inch steel [ball] would make a sizable dent in about fifty feet. It wasn't considered as a firearm because in order to legally have a firearm it has to be able to use commercial ammunition, and obviously, this couldn't. I still have those balls at home. I misplaced the ramrod. I'll have to make a new one. The rod itself was made out of brass welding wire. It was something like a sixteenth of an inch diameter.
MG: That is amazing.
AG: I still have a[n] oxyacetylene torch, and I went to school for a term to learn how to use that and also how to repair dented cars and so forth.
MG: That is amazing. Well, we are probably going to get kicked out of here soon. We should stop it here.
AG: All right.
MG: I want to thank you again for spending so much time with me.
AG: My pleasure, believe me.
MG: I think I will listen back to these tapes, and I will send them to you for you to listen back to them too.
AG: All right.
MG: If we have other things to talk about, we will make another appointment.
AG: All right, okay.
MG: Thank you so much, both of you, for all the time you spent with me.
JM: Thank you.
JM: I'm going to see if I can get a picture.
AG: If you do get back here, I'll show you that cannon.
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Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 5/16/17