GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man has uncovered historic family photos showing Jewish-American soldiers observing Passover on the front lines of combat during World War II.
The pictures show thousands of soldiers forced to quickly celebrate a Passover meal even as deadly fighting continued all around them.
Great Neck attorney Michael Weinstock recently discovered the negatives for dozens of wartime photos, tucked away inside his father’s Albany home for decades, and quickly had them developed.
Most of the photos were taken by the Nassau County lawyer’s grandfather, a combat photographer for the US Army.
His grandfather also posed for photos himself, sometimes standing with natives of the Pacific Islands the United States was liberating from Japanese control amidst fierce hand to hand fighting. But Weinstock says it was one photo that particularly caught his attention.
In it, his grandfather wears a haunted look as he stares right into the camera while observing a hurried Passover Seder with thousands of other Jewish soldiers.
“I’m just looking at his face, looking at his eyes as to whether he was traumatized,” Weinstock tells TV 10/55’s Richard Rose. “When I look at that, I know he had a rough time over there. He told the story to my dad of the time he was riding in a jeep and the driver was killed by a sniper.”
Weinstock says the Passover celebration itself was remarkable in that since it was wartime, even the rabbi leading the Seder was in uniform.
“It’s a wonderful reminder that while Hitler was rounding up Jews and killing them, the US was embracing Jews and encouraging them to celebrate their holidays together,” he said.
Weinstock says he is busy making copies of the photos to distribute to his grandfather’s large extended family. He’s already shared the historic photos with members of his synagogue, and says he’s already been contacted by a Holocaust museum in St. Louis that wants to feature his photographs — even though he’d rather they be shown locally.