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May 23, 1986 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

20

Friday, May 23, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Memories 0 War

BY MAIDA PORTNOY
Special to The Jewish News

Sri.

sity. He earned both bachelor's and
master's degrees in education. "I
wouldn't have been able to go to col-
lege if it hadn't been for the G.I.
Bill," says Tannis, an elementary
school teacher who retired in 1980.
Both Tannises have devoted un-
told hours to the Jewish War Vete-
rans of the U.S.A., Department of
Michigan. In addition to his position
as chaplain, Tannis is also Hospital
Chairman and VAVS (Volunteer
Association Veteran Service) Officer.
Mrs. Tannis, a past president of
JWV's Ladies Auxiliary Block-Rose
Chapter, is also active in VAVS.
"We haven't solved the problems
of the world," says Tannis. "There's
no peace in the world today and we
don't know what the future will be.
But I was proud to serve my coun-
try. I didn't avoid the draft, it was a
moral obligation. (Otherwise) you
wouldn't have a country today. It
was built on the sacrifice of many
people. Freedom doesn't come easy."

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Jack Kraizman, Tom Tannis,
Stanley Pliskow, Bernard Feldman,
Jerry Schlussel and Irvine Keller at
Machpelah Cemetery.

Memorial Day is a
time of sadness
and nostalgia for
Detroit's Jewish
War Veterans,

I

his Sunday, Tom Tannis,
chaplain of Michigan's
Jewish War Veterans, will
recite a prayer at
Machpelah Cemetery for
Jewish soldiers who gave their lives
for their country.
As a World War II prisoner of
war in Germany for five months,
Tannis did a lot of praying for him-
self. "I wasn't the bravest soldier,"
he admits. "I was the luckiest."
He opens a book written about
himself and the men he 'was cap-
tured with, designating a specific
point on a map.
"I'll show you the area where we
were captured, 20 of us, on Dec. 9,
1944, in the town of Schmidt in
Hurtgan Forest. We were cut off at
the bottom of the hill, surrounded
and couldn't escape. I threw away
my dog tag with H(ebrew) on it and
told them I was Polish (He was - he
came to the U.S. at the age of 6 from
Poland)," recalls Tannis who was in
heavy weapons in the army's Eighth
Division.
Tannis was in four different
prisoner of war (POW) camps in five
months. Living conditions were so
poor, the men were deloused upon
liberation. Though he wasn't mis-
treated physically, there was never
enough food.
"I would go over to the Russian
compound at night," he remembers,
and trade different things to get

food from the Russians. We were
separated by a barbed wire fence
and I would sneak under that fence
at night." .The scarcity of food was to
haunt Tannis long after his return
home.
Lorraine Tannis remembers
clearly what her then-fiance was
like when he came home. He was
very nervous and worried that he
wouldn't get enough to eat. I and the
rest of the family reassured him"
that the butcher (despite the rations
then) would make sure Tannis got
enough meat.
Mrs. Tannis is less reluctant
than her husband in talking about
the emotions experienced during
those difficult years.
"I was engaged to him at the
time he was missing in action. I was
25-years-old, heartbroken and scared
. . . Toward the end of his time as a
POW I got one letter. I knew he was
OK shortly before his release.
"It was a terrible time for
everybody, not just for me or his
family. We were all involved during
the war. We'd come home and im-
mediately turn on the radio, just to
hear what was going on. It's affected
my whole life, his being a veteran. I
think we give a good share of our
lives to any veteran cause."
Tannis was sent for rehabilita-
tion to Hot Springs, Ark. for six
weeks and then returned to Detroit
and in 1948 entered Wayne Univer-

s a judge advocate in the
army during World War II,
Jack Kraizman was
stationed in Washington,
D.C. After two years in the
armed services he was discharged
because of illness. His term of serv-
ice as a dedicated volunteer worker
for the Jewish War Veterans of
America, however, has proven to be
much lengthier' and more demand-
. ing, spanning 39 years of hard work
and dedication.
A former two-term president of
the Jewish War Veterans Memorial
Home on 12 Mile Road in Southfield,
he has served as the organization's
judge advocate for the last 15 years.
And for those who think the JWV's
only function is providing funds and
non-sectarian services to veterans
And veteran's hospitals, Kraizman
takes great pleasure in explaining
the organization's role in fighting
bigotry and discrimination in all
forms. Members are involved in pro-
grams related to civil rights, na-
tional security, veteran's benefits
and American foreign policy.
The JWV has been effective in
lobbying Congress because of its
status as a veteran's organization,
and members also raise money to
support the Israeli Military Rest and
Rehabilitation Home in Beersheba.
It is the oldest of the veteran's
organizations, founded in 1896 under
the name of the Hebrew Union Vet-
erans to confront insinuations that
Jews had not participated in the
military during the War Between
The States.
. He also likes to talk about the
issues he deals with as JWV judge
advocate. Kraizman led the petition

Continued on Page 22

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