Passing of veteran Robert Levine, from the 90th Infantry Division



On August 19th, passed Robert Levine, an american veteran who landed in Utah Beach as a 90th Infantry private on June 10th 1944. He was also honorary president of the association Normandy 44. On July 10th 1944, he was wounded by a grenade while his unit was in Mont-Castre, and was subsequently taken prisoner by the Germans. That night, american artillery barrages hit the small german camp he was kept him, wounding him a second time, critically. He was then rushed to a makeshift field hospital in a farmhouse. There, the german doctor in charge of healing him, named Edgar Woll, quickly noticed the H on his dog tags, and asked for its meaning. Hebrew. At this moment, Levine abandoned all hope of surviving, expecting to be brutally executed, or worse. But when he awoke, after being operated for his leg injury, the german doctor was gone, and so was his leg, which the doctor had to amputate. However, it seemed that the doctor had taken the liberty to throw away Levine’s dog tags, saving his life in the process. He had also left a handwritten note in Levine’s pocket explaining exactly why he had to amputate his leg, and also giving him his name and address. Levine was then transferred to a school cafeteria converted to german hospital for prisoners of war in Rennes, where he was kept until the liberation of the city in August 1944. There, he feared for his life a second time in a very short span, as one night, the hospital was caught under Ally bombardments. A shell penetrated his room and hit the wall! Levine survived nonetheless and soon after, was able to come back home in the USA, and continue his life. It was only in 1982, when he came back in France for the first time after 38 years, that Levine was able to start the difficult process of reconnecting with his past, and start working on making peace with what he went through. He also contacted Woll’s family. Woll himself had passed, but his family and Levine became very close. 76 years after the events of 1944, in 2020, Levine would face death for the third time, as he was tested for COVID-19. He was placed in the COVID ward of the Hackensack, New Jersey hospital, which coincidentally happened to be a former cafeteria too!

Robert Lévine
© Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
© Robert Levine Estate
The note Woll left Levine – © Robert Levine Estate
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