Viewpoints – Week of June 16

“A Father’s Day like no other”

This Sunday will be a Father’s Day like no other for Paul Weitzenkorn. This World War II “Ritchie Boys” Army veteran will be surrounded by family and friends in Fort Lauderdale as he celebrates his 100th birthday on Father’s Day.

World War II veteran Paul Weitzenkorn and his family. [Courtesy]

According to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, there are only about 200 of the original 20,000 of these special “Ritchie Boys” troops alive today. The museum is bestowing its highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, on the “Ritchie Boys” this year.

Paul was a 16-year-old Jewish German escapee from Nazi Germany. He and his family came to the U.S. in 1939, two months after Kristallnacht [“the night of broken glass” – so named because Jewish businesses and synagogues were vandalized and destroyed, resulting in countless broken windows].

The Nazis had thrown his father into Dachau Concentration Camp, but he was later released. The Weitzenkorn family then fled to America. Sadly, his aunt, uncle and cousins perished in German internment camps.

In 1945, Paul was part of the liberation of Germany when he drove a U.S. Army Jeep with a pistol and German Shepherd to his hometown of Mayen in western Germany. He found survivors [both townspeople and German soldiers] sheltering in the dungeon of the town’s bombed-out castle ruins. His former neighbors recognized him and pointed out the enemy soldiers trying to blend in. Paul was pivotal in interrogating them, and deciphering in German who the Nazis were so they could be captured.

Also on hand this Sunday will be Paul’s brother Otto, 94, who sailed on the ship with their family to America, and who subsequently served in World War II. A third 95-year-old World War II  veteran family member will join in to celebrate with Paul as well. Four generations of the Weitzenkorn family will be gathered that day.

Leslie Sheffield, Fort Lauderdale

“You can’t fix stupid”

Why your publication keeps up the seemingly endless stories relative to safety at railroad crossings is beyond my comprehension. Anyone who drives a vehicle around the safety gates at a crossing either wants to kill himself or herself or is exhibiting total disregard for their own safety. You can’t fix stupid. I find it is incredible that another $45 million is earmarked for more safety measures at railroad crossings. Nothing but a total waste of money. We should not even care about these stupid people. They deserve their fate.

Lynn Stote, Pompano Beach

“The train drivers”

Once again we see a needless death as a driver tries to beat the Brightline train. Perhaps bringing down the barriers earlier, say by one minute, might help and to those drivers who feel they cannot wait an extra minute, tough.

But in all the newspaper articles, radio and television reports, one group is never mentioned – the train drivers. It is not their fault that their train smashes into a car illegally crossing in front of them, but they have to live with the knowledge that they were involved in the deaths of drivers. And it will do little for their solace to say that those drivers should have known better.

So the next time you see a report on a death on the railway, don’t forget the driver of the train who, despite their best efforts, was unable to stop the train to save a life. They now have to live with that for the rest of their lives

Dermot McQuarrie, Pompano Beach

“Something needs to be done”

In regards to the incidents involving the Brightline train and cars/pedestrians, the only way I see to put a dent in this stupidity is to restore the use of the train horn during certain hours, to be determined by the railroad officials. Secondly, the fines are way too small. You can get a parking ticket for violating a handicap space for $250. For the train crossing violation, start at $500. Something drastic needs to be done to wake these morons up to this reality.

Bart Piacente, Coconut Creek

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *