Sylvia Wygoda Gives Fascinating Account Of Father's Nazi Resistance

Saturday, September 9, 2006
Sylvia Wygoda and Lloyd Stanley at the Civitan Club. Click to enlarge.
Sylvia Wygoda and Lloyd Stanley at the Civitan Club. Click to enlarge.
- photo by John Wilson

Sylvia Wygoda, a native of Chattanooga who is the Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, told the Chattanooga Civitan Club she never learned her father's heroic role in fighting the Nazis until after his death.

Ms. Wygoda said her father, Hermann Wygoda, was a Polish Jew who was a Holocaust survivor. He was also a decorated resistance fighter in Italy (leading a division that liberated a town in northern Italy).

She said she and her brother discovered that her father kept a
journal during the war and later translated the journal into English.
The journal has been published
as "In the Shadow of the Swastika."

Ms. Wygoda said her father was born in Germany in 1906 - 20 minutes from where key holocaust figure, Anne Frank, was born in 1929. His own father had died in the German army in World War I, and Hermann's mother moved the family to Warsaw, Poland. There Hermann gained a civil engineering degree and was an officer in the Polish army.

As Hitler came into power, Hermann left his young son, Stan, in the care of a Christian businessman. He later moved him out in the country with a Christian couple.

Ms. Wygoda said her father spoke seven languages fluently, and he pretended to be an ethic German, hiding his Jewish heritage. She said he had many close calls, including once when an old acquaintance spotted him and he had to run for his life.

He eventually heard of the young Partisans in Italy who were fighting the Nazis. He joined their movement and was asked to become their lead. She said during this time he lived in a cave and he helped to liberate the town of Samona with its 100,000 people. He was known then as Commandante Henrico.

Once he was captured and placed in jail, but with the help of other prisoners was able to knock out the guard and escape.

After the war, Gen. Mark Clark pinned the Bronze Star on Hermann Wygoda's chest.

Hermann had an aunt who had moved to Chattanooga, so he decided to settle there. This hero of Nazi resistance first worked in Chattanooga as a ditchdigger.

He made a visit to Sam Raider Plumbing on McCallie Avenue and it was "love at first sight" when he met Sam Raider's daughter, Rae. They were married, and Sylvia, is their daughter.

Hermann Wygoda became a builder and developed subdivisions in Chattanooga. She said he was devoted to education and on one of his projects he donated land for school purposes. He also erected a fence at Brainerd Junior High when she was attending there.

She said his life taught "that it is important to stand up for what is right and to be a good citizen."

Lloyd Stanley, Civitan president, said his family lived next to the Wygodas in Brainerd and he often got rides to school from Hermann Wygoda.

He said Hermann Wygoda "was a fervent patriot. He was a good citizen who loved this country. I thank God for men like Hermann Wygoda."


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