Harry Lindauer

[ Age 88 ] The retired Army colonel earned two Bronze Stars in a military career spanning three wars and 30 years.

December 21, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Harry Lindauer, a retired U.S. Army colonel who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, died of age-related complications and an infection Friday at the Ginger Cove retirement community in Annapolis. He was 88.

Born in Buttenhausen and raised in Darmstadt, Germany, he was 20 when he left his family's tobacco and soap factory as the Nazi government intensified its campaign against Jewish business owners. Distant relatives sponsored his immigration to Chicago, where he worked initially in a sausage factory.

"The family tradition was that he had less than $10 in his pocket and spoke fewer than 10 words of English," said his son, David Lindauer of North Bethesda.

He was drafted into the Army before the U.S. entered World War II and served on the West Coast and in Alaska until 1944. Family members said he graduated from Officers' Candidate School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. He was a translator and prisoner-of-war interrogator on the staff of Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

After the war, he helped establish de-Nazification procedures for the city of Nuremberg and assisted the civil-military governing authority until his discharge in January 1946. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

After returning to Chicago, he met Thea Kahn, also a refugee from Nazi Germany, at a Valentine's Day dance. They married in 1946.

He worked for Pabst Brewing Co. before he rejoined the Army in 1951 and worked in intelligence in Korea. Making the military his career, he was stationed in Japan, Germany and Vietnam, where he received a second Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star.

Colonel Lindauer moved to Annapolis in 1967 and retired in 1970 from his last post, at the Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird in Baltimore.

His decorations also included the Commander's Cross of the Federal Order of Merit, awarded in 1988 by the German government in recognition of his efforts to facilitate German-American friendship during his military career and as a civilian.

"He hated Nazism and anti-Semitism, but he distinguished between the German people as individuals," his son said. "He never harbored any antagonism."

The son said his father designed a Judaism and Holocaust study program for German 10th-grade students. In the 1980s, on trips there, he spoke to people between 25 and 35 years of age who wanted to learn about Germany in the 1930s.

He had been president of Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold and worked for many years with Jewish students at the Naval Academy. He and his wife were champions of the construction of the Naval Academy All-Faith Chapel in 1980 and the appointment of a full-time rabbi to the academy's chaplain center. They also supported the academy's Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel, which opened in 2005.

The Lindauers volunteered at the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing and Information Center in Baltimore.

"Having the German background and knowing the language, he was able to assemble documents and figure out records," his son said.

A 1990 Evening Sun story quoted his wife as saying of that experience, "Harry says he always feels like we should say a memorial prayer on the ride back to Annapolis."

Colonel Lindauer was president of the Annapolis Opera Company from 1987 through 1993.

"Well-meaning friends cautioned him not to board a sinking ship," said a 2002 article in The Sun, relating how "Harry Lindauer kept the opera company, which was heavily in debt when he came aboard, afloat by his skilled avoidance of additional debt while paying down much of the existing debt with his own money."

A Naval Academy honor guard will attend an 11 a.m. ceremony today when Colonel Lindauer's ashes are placed in the academy's columbarium.

In addition to his wife and son, survivors include two daughters, M. Joan Gregory of Chesapeake, Va., and Robin Lang of Severn; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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