Birthdate: May 18, 1928
Birthplace: Sobernheim, Germany
Religious Identity: Jewish
“When the Nazis came into our house they had axes and broke up all the furniture and the windows and then they arrested my father and took him away, to Dachau, and we never saw him again.”
Leon Metzler was a child when the Second World War began. He was 10 years old when he experienced Kristallnacht. He remembers the men coming into their house and breaking the furniture and windows with axes and destroying their attached business. He also recalls trying to save his father from being arrested and a Nazi putting a knife to his throat. That night his father was taken to Dachau and that was the last time Leon ever saw him. The family wasn’t allowed to repair the windows; instead they had to live in their ruined home. Leon, his sister and his grandmother were sent to France. Leon’s mother stayed behind. The trio was arrested and sent to a nearby internment camp called Gurs, where they were for a period of time. After leaving Gurs, they lived in a synagogue in Marseille for a period of time before continuing their journey to Spain, Portugal, and finally the United States. Leon lost both of his parents in the Holocaust. After Kristallnacht he never saw his father again, and his mother, who was arrested and taken to Theresienstadt, died there. In the U.S., Leon and his sister lived with their grandmother. Leon attended school and worked simultaneously, and his sister began cleaning houses. The pair was very close all throughout their lives. Leon met his late wife, Annette, a Pittsburgh native, and the pair married and had one daughter, Sheila, and he now has two grandchildren. Since he was robbed of the opportunity to have a Bar Mitzvah when he was 13, at the age of 83 he joined his 13 year old grandson in becoming a Bar Mitzvah according to Jewish tradition, 83 is the age when one could have a second Bar Mitzvah. He now enjoys watching CNN during the day, and recalls how much he used to love to go to the Jewish Community Center to see his friends, eat lunch, walk the track, and take different classes.
“I come from Germany that’s true, but I’m an American now. See my uniform, I’m an American now.”
Read his full testimony here.