Hometown Heroes - Hermann Wygoda

Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:34 AM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A McNeese State University biology professor is becoming a notable voice for Holocaust museums across the nation. Dr. Mark Wygoda recently addressed a Florida group about his father Hermann’s involvement in World War II.

Mark remembers the first time he asked his mother about the photo of a small child he found in their collection.

“The tone was very stern,” recalled Mark. “She said, ‘That was your father’s first son. He was killed in the war. Don’t ask him any questions.’ I’m convinced that is why he never talked about it. It wasn’t just his son that was murdered by the Nazis. It was his mother and his brother. He lost his whole family.”

Hermann Wygoda smuggled food and supplies into the Warsaw ghetto in Poland in the days leading up to the war.

“He witnessed deportation of the Jews out of the ghetto, taken to the railroad stations and eventually to Treblinka, the death camp. He witnessed that happening. He saw a Nazi SS officer murder a young Jewish man out on the sidewalk.”

Later, Hermann fought for the underground in Italy, earning a Bronze Star from the American Army.

“The British and Americans supplied his outfit with arms, ammunition and explosives by air drop at night. He was always fighting up in the mountains. He and his forces were always attacking enemy troops as they passed through the mountains.”

Hermann Wygoda began writing his memoir, “In the Shadow of the Swastika,” while he was still fighting in the war. Years later, Mark had it translated for the world to read. It’s still being printed today, available from Amazon and the University of Illinois Press. Mark Wygoda’s address to the Florida Holocaust Museum can be seen on the organization’s Facebook page.

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