September 18, 2017

Willis did not write a letter on September 18, 1943.  So we will begin a new page to share with everyone.  It will be a photo gallery of the people that he mentions in his letters.  We have tried to do some research on the people mentioned in the pictures, or letters, but because this took place 74 years ago, it is difficult to trace people like the Rileys in Boston, or Wayne Soliday, his friend from Chaplain school.  We have been able to make contact with a cousin and we are now filling in many names from old family photographs.  This will be a continued project over the course of the next three years. Keep following the gallery page.

Gunther Plaut. Willis’ “rabbi roommate” at Harvard

One of the chaplains that Willis has a lot to say about is his roommate Gunther Plaut from Chicago. He was the chain smoking rabbi who kept the room looking like “a pool hall,” and talked, “in a half-shouting fashion, and he’s liable to burst out at anytime with something making it hard to concentrate on writing.”

After serving with the 104th Infantry Division in Europe in 1944-45, Rabbi Plaut became a very well-know Reformed Rabbi and wrote a great deal of works including a commentary on the Torah that is still widely used in the Reformed movement.  There is a lot of information on the internet regarding his history. He died in 2012.

To see the rest of the photo gallery (or at least as far as we’ve gone) Click Here.

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