Now 93 years old, Chuck Stein looks back on June 6, 1944 from his retirement community, Greenspring, in Springfield.
“It’s been a long time,” he says.
Stein fled Nazi-occupied Austria right before the Holocaust at age 18. He fought for the U.S. Army and was in Normandy on D-Day.
“It was murder,” he says. “Bodies all around. Nobody really knew where we were going or what we were doing.”
Stein left behind his parents and years later took a cruise ship to America. He last saw his mother and father in 1938.
Stein later joined the Army as an interrogator of German prisoners in Europe.
“It was payback,” he says. “I left Austria in 1938, Hitler marched through Austria in 1938.”
Stein received two bronze stars and the Defense Medal of Freedom after working for the Pentagon and State Department in intel as a civilian. His ID from medical school is stamped “auslander,” which means “foreigner.” He couldn’t prove his Austrian residency and the ID was his ticket out from Nazi persecution.
“I would put it under the heading, that’s all I can say,” he says. “I was lucky in a lot of places…”
Stein has three children and seven grandchildren in the D.C. area. He volunteers at the Holocaust Museum. It was there where he discovered what ultimately happened to his parents. Records show they were gassed on Feb. 28, 1942. Stein says he lights a candle on that very day each year.