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U.S. POW to Nazis: I Am a Jew

Highland Park World War II veteran Nathan Firestone showed defiance when questioned by German captors after he was shot down over Austria.

Listen to Highland Park World War II veteran Nathan Firestone tell why he told his Nazi captors, "I am a Jew."
Listen to Highland Park World War II veteran Nathan Firestone tell why he told his Nazi captors, "I am a Jew."


Courage comes in many forms and shapes. For Highland Park World War II veteran Nathan Firestone he was tested when he became a German prisoner of war.

Firestone’s story was retold while honoring him as a “Hero Among Us” as part of Highland Park’s Veterans Day observance today that drew a standing room only crowd of more than 200 people at the Highland Park Public Library.

After flying 27 successful missions over Europe as an officer and navigator of a bomber squadron, his plane went down over Austria; he was captured by the Nazis, interrogated by them and ultimately escaped.

He was asked why he bombed Austria by his captors. “Ich bin Juden (I am a Jew),” he replied. Watch the Patch video and see why he said that.

The story was related by Highland Park VFW Adjutant Peter Quilici. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) paused in his remarks to thank Firestone who was quick to give credit to his comrades in the Army Air Force.

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David Greenberg November 12, 2013 at 09:47 AM
Thank you for your service Mr. Firestone - it's because of people with mettle like yours that we're able to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
Inge Wagner November 12, 2013 at 01:13 PM
So what?
The Q November 12, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Mr Firestone.....the world thanks you for your service!
Benny G. November 12, 2013 at 04:34 PM
One day, sadly enough, there will be no more of these courageous people that not only witnessed Nazi atrocities but survived them to tell us about it. I, for one, will never ever forget...Thank you Mr. Firestone and God Bless You and yours.
Bob November 12, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Inge Wagner. A very Germanic name. There were probably many Nazis with the same name so I can understand the response by this person who probably takes pride in having the same name as a Nazi.
Bob November 12, 2013 at 05:43 PM
As a Jew who fought in Vietnam, I regret that I was born to late to fight in World War II. I envy Nathan Firestone in that he got to kill Nazis whereas I got to kill people that had done me no harm.
Bob B November 12, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Inge - so what? Boy are you intelligent, or what? NOT!
David Greenberg November 12, 2013 at 08:35 PM
So what? His story is one that we must NEVER FORGET. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/7/halbrook-the-key-to-this-german-pogrom-is-confisca/
Marvin Harrison November 12, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Many Jewish POWs threw away their dog tags (that identified them as Hebrew) to avoid being shot "trying to escape". I am glad he made it.
Eric Linse November 13, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Thank God the Nazis didn't shoot him and throw his body in a ditch
Bernard Johnson November 13, 2013 at 12:58 AM
No doubt that the 'W' in 'Wagner' is pronounced as a 'V' {at least in Inge's black heart}. The US and Allies made a slight miscalculation when we decided to drop two A-bombs on Japan, we should have made a few dozen more and drop'd 'em on every major German city [or, at the very least, fire-bombed 'em all - like Dresden]. Alternatively, we could have simply let the Russians occupy all of Germany [they'd have put the Germans to use, e.g, in Siberia]. The profoundly vast majority of Germans supported the Nazi-regime, e.g., the Nuremburg Laws and all of those concentration camps - with their ovens and gas chambers, being filled by trains of car-load after car-load of people day after day, month after month, year after year couldn't have gone un-noticed. Of course, Krupp, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and numerous other companies in Germany benefited by slave labor and those slaves were [before being worked [to death] in full view of so called 'ordinary' Germans. However, Truman hadn't the lower intestinal fortitude to destroy Germany sufficiently, just as he wouldn't let McArthur take on the Chinese in Korea [and see where that's gotten us]. Just as in Germany, America doesn't know how to finish its wars: Spanish American [Cuba], WW 1 - which laid the foundations for WW 2, Vietnam [hamstrung from the get-go], the Gulf War [letting Sadam keep his helicopter gun-ships, which he then turned on the Kurds whom we'd provoked into rising up against him], Lebanon [one Marine barracks was blown up and we left], etc, etc. German is a language that shouldn't have been allowed to be spoken or written after WW 2 and the Germans should have been scattered to the far corners of the planet. Otherwise, it's because of men like Firestone that the wicked can still utter 'so what' without being dragged from their homes and beaten to death. Thanks - Nate.
Emil Frishe November 13, 2013 at 01:31 AM
I thank you and all the Heros like you who rescued my grandparents from Dachau. Later, after they emigrated to the U.S., no man in uniform ever paid for a meal in his restaurant.
Cindy Halpern November 13, 2013 at 09:08 AM
My late mother survived the Holocaust and my late father liberated Dachau. So I had parents who were both a victim and a liberator. By the way, they met in the United States. I know romantics out there have suggested he liberated her, but that wasn't the case here. They both believed in social justice and they both did everything to peactice what they preached.
Linda November 13, 2013 at 02:08 PM
First of all I would like to give thumbs up for Nathan Firestone. Thank God he got out alive as well as some of the "ordinary" Germans. If you take away the German language, don't forget the Jews spoke German also. Bernard you are a jerk and so is Inge for her comment.
Bob Steward November 13, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Replace germans with jews and Bernard Johnson would be an excellent Nazi. He actually is an excellent Nazi, without any changes.
Stu Pidasso November 13, 2013 at 07:32 PM
What does Inge Wagner mean in English? Douche....
Gail Neuman November 13, 2013 at 08:07 PM
My dad was a B-17 bomber pilot over Germany and once was shot down over enemy territory. If he had told the Germans he was a Jew they would have killed him.
Grumpy Old Man November 15, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Thank you Norman Firestone. For your service and for your Honoring our faith. What is so appalling, although I guess I shouldn't be, is that 15 people recommended the So What comment. There was a post several months ago in the Skokie Patch concerning a holocaust survivor and the nazi worms came out of the woodwork - challenging whether she was telling the truth, accusing Jews of ignoring the killing of others and one producing statistics "proving" no Jews were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. I have a question for Ms. Neuman, are you implying that Mr. Firestone is lying? Germans sent captured American soldiers of the Jewish faith to special camps other than the ones reserved for allied soldiers at which they were treated much like the inmates of the concentration camp system in Germany = not death camps but work camps with inadequate food, shelter, etc. They didn't shoot them out of hand although if a soldier was captured by the SS it was touch and go as to whether they would -- Malmedy Massacre is only one example. (before the nazi apologists start up - yes, there were killing of POWS by all sides in WWII. But nothing compares to the record of the Nazis in terms of killing POW and others). Civilians in Germany often killed or tryed to kill allied airmen without regard to their faith - the bombing of German cities didn't sit too well.

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