email rec'd today about Joe Leibgott

KlondikeFox
Registered User
Joined: 03 Mar 2008, 14:33

24 Apr 2013, 21:59 #1

I received the msg reproduced below today. If the info aboutLeibgott not being Jewish is accurate, this has huge implications forwhat was depicted in BoB.Hi Mark,

Quick question for you. One of our folks here is actually a 1st and 2nd cousin
of Joe Leibgott from Easy 501st PIR. Anyway they watched BoB for the first time
a couple weeks ago and were appalled that they depicted Joe as Jewish when he
was Roman Catholic. Actually, I know there are a lot of errors and license
taken with the show as you have written about... but do you have any info on
Joe? Just wondering...

Thanks my friend,

Randy


Randy Talbot
TACOM LCMC
Command Historian
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Carl Horoho
Registered User
Joined: 30 Nov 2007, 11:24

25 Apr 2013, 00:14 #2

If this is true, I would not be surprised. Hollywood always wants to make a PC statement, and Jews fighting and taunting Nazis fits the template perfectly. With all the other parts of BoB that are - shall we say - inconsistent with the truth, should we be shocked if a Trooper named "Liebgott" was converted from Catholic to Judaism in order to "make a scene with impact"? Again, as Mark has so often pointed out, there was no need for poetic license in BoB. Simply telling the truthful facts would have made an amazing mini-series. But Spielberg/Hanks had to go for an over the top extravaganza that touched all the PC bases.

I do also find it interesting that Hollywood's depicting of Jews as heroes stops with WWII. Support of Israel now is taboo.

In the end, it should not matter who or what these men were. The mini-series should have been concerned only with what they did. I have watched the entire mini series twice. The last time was over two years ago. It does not thrill me much anymore, and that is sad.

I will be interested to learn if this is another instance of drama trumping facts in BoB.
Carl Horoho
Lafayette, IN
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Currahee101st
Registered User
Joined: 20 Jun 2011, 00:30

25 Apr 2013, 01:04 #3

I continue to be somewhat suprised by the sheer amount of misconceptions brought about and created by the BoB series. Thinking about it, I really should never put it past them. I remember reading somewhere recently that Liebgott was really Roman Catholic. I can't believe that they would create such a lie for the show. Like Carl said, the real story would have made one helluva miniseris as it was. Why would they feel the need to change it? I just don't get it sometimes.
The veterans of Easy Company are heroes. Their stories deserve to be memorialized and remembered, but remembered correctly. It saddens me to see their memories tainted this way.
Blue Skies,
Phillip
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currahee506
Registered User
Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 08:55

25 Apr 2013, 01:14 #4

I don't remember where I got this from, but.....
Liebgott survived the war and returned to Oakland to and resumed his job as a barber. It is inaccurately stated in the Band of Brothers miniseries that he lived in San Francisco and started a career as a cab driver. Liebgott never attended any of the Easy Company reunions and it is rumoured the War caused him to suffer from a mental breakdown. He died in 1992.
While Liebgott is said to be Jewish in both the book and the mini-series, there has been much confusion over this point now that his family has been found and contacted. They were raised Catholic, were told their father had been, and his dogtags were stamped Catholic (though apparently many Jewish soldiers had their religion falsified on their dog tags). However, all the men he served with are certain he was Jewish. There has been some speculation about whether he converted, though Joe's children say both of his parents were Catholic as well. The question remains as to why he seemingly told everyone he served with he was Jewish when family fact seems to show that he was not, though a fan's investigation into his ancestry reveals that his mother's maiden name was Zimmerman, which is often a Jewish name. It may be that his mother was born Jewish but that Joe was raised Catholic. This is still an issue that needs more investigation.
I highly doubt (Carl Image) that Liebgott's religion was purposely misrepresented for some political statement.  Believe it or not, 95% of the miniseries was based off the stories and accounts obtained from the Veterans themselves.  Anyone who has had the privilege to look through Major Winter's personal records (which when I last visited, they were contained within 6 large plastic storage bins) can see all the information the BOB Team had to pour over. 
In all likelihood, we'll never know the truth for sure.  At the end of the day. this man fought heroically for his country, and the freedom and liberation of others.
Rich
Last edited by currahee506 on 25 Apr 2013, 01:17, edited 1 time in total.
The point I was trying to make is that you have to be prepared to give to the people you lead. You must give in every way. You must give of your time, and you must be consistent in your treatment of them. You must never take from people you lead. Later, at Brécourt Manor, Compton did a fantastic job leading his men.

     
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currahee506
Registered User
Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 08:55

25 Apr 2013, 01:20 #5

"My great uncle did drive a cab in Oakland California for a short time after the war. It was only a side job. His main job before and after the war was a barber. His kids most likely did not know about it because it was before most of them were born and he only was a cab driver for a short time. I know this because my grandmother (his sister) would tell stories of (uncle Sunny) Joseph picking her up in his cab and taking her to stores. After questioning my mother further I found out his nick name "Sunny" was actually "Sonny" because he was the first born and a son. My mother being 4-5 years old when Joe returned from war remembers he gave her and her brother pins,trinkets and possibly some metals. At that time no one new the importance of them. My mother and her brother would play with them but being so young have no idea what happened to them. My mother wore one of the pins to school one day and her teacher told her it she was not allowed to bring it to school. My great grand father moved the family from Germany to the United States and sent all his kids including Joe Liebgott to Catholic school to cover up his jewish history. It is also believed my great grandfather changed the family's last name before coming to America. This however is only a family rumor. My great grand father (Joe's father) was afraid of his future generation being prosecuted for being Jewish. After moving to the United States my great grandfather would always denied the family being jewish. However his parents(Joe's grandparents) moved to the states as well and would tell the kids there history. They were also the ones that taught Joe a lot of his German language. Joseph Liebgott has sisters living in the bay area to this day."I guess the family knows best......
Rich
The point I was trying to make is that you have to be prepared to give to the people you lead. You must give in every way. You must give of your time, and you must be consistent in your treatment of them. You must never take from people you lead. Later, at Brécourt Manor, Compton did a fantastic job leading his men.

     
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reccewoody
Registered User
Joined: 15 Dec 2007, 15:29

25 Apr 2013, 15:00 #6

I have known for several years that in all likelihood, Joe Liebgott was raised Catholic. My belief is that the HBO script writers made him Jewish as a plot device, possibly at about the time they dropped Forrest Guth as a character. The reason being is that they establish very early on Joe's Jewish faith and also that he is a German speaker. This was done all leading up to the pivotal scene at the Concentration camp. Because we the audience know (or rather think we know) that Joe is Jewish, when he has to tell (as interpreter) the victims that they have to go back inside the wire fence, the whole sequence has an extra layer of emotional resonance. They did this with all sorts of things and facts. These deliberate decisions were what made the series have such an impact globally on so many millions of viewers. the point is, the show was not aimed at WWII nerds, nor was aimed at the few veterans families. It was there to get WWII into the front rooms of EVERYONE.
Now, it could be debated that playing with real people's histories for the purpose of movie-making is unethical. Or it could be argued that the decisions are what made the show so universally popular. I guess it comes down to the difference between people who view it as a TV drama and those that think it's a documentary.
Mr. Chard Sir! Patrol has come back, Zulus have gone, all of 'em. It's a miracle! If it's a miracle Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer
Henry, point 45 caliber miracle. And a bayonet Sir! With some guts behind it! Zulu - 1963
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adam517
Registered User
Joined: 27 Jun 2010, 10:05

25 Apr 2013, 15:15 #7

Ultimately I would doubt that there is a film in existence that fits history perfectly, or as close to what we know as history anyway. The most true to reality film I can recall is "We were soldiers...." and even that has some glaring inaccuracies and falsifications on an individuals time in the service (Basil Plumley) and actions in combat.

Do we know of any members of E.Company who we can be certain were Jewish? And if so were they characters in the mini series?

Adam
Ignorance means life is lost.
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Scorpio58
Registered User
Joined: 28 May 2009, 12:31

25 Apr 2013, 15:19 #8

I think Woody makes a good point here regarding the "Documentary" vs. a Docu-drama. However, everyone (or almost) on this forum are sticklers for accuracy. Although Hollywood is well known for it's fraud, bald face lies and knack for twisting the truth without any apology whatsoever, I don't recall there being any disclaimers concerning the depiction or accuracy of BOB. Additionally, it has become more and more apparent that while Ambrose was quite the prolific author his reputation has suffered since his death due to his propensity to embellish "facts". Money does have a way of doing that to authors and book-to-movie conversions. Disappointing? Absolutely!  But HEY! That's Hollywood, its terrible to think that so many people decide to "learn" history through TV, movies, and Hollywood vs. good old research and first hand accounts..............but like my Grandmother used to say............ not everyone really gives two shakes of a lamb's tail either!
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Eastcote
Registered User
Joined: 25 Apr 2013, 15:29

25 Apr 2013, 15:29 #9

I am the person who originally questioned the account of Joe Liebgott’s Jewishness as depicted in Band of Brothers.  It is a little strong to say I was “appalled”.  I was more humorously puzzled.  But I would like to set the record straight. 

My father-in-law was also named Joseph Liebgott, and was 101st Joe’s cousin.  My father-in-law’s mother Elizabeth Zimmermann, and 101st Joe’s mother Mary Zimmermann, were sisters.   I am not sure of the relationship of their fathers, Frank Liebgott and Joseph Liebgott, Sr, but they may have been first cousins.  

Rich wrote:  “I guess the family knows best...” and contributed an account from 101st Joe’s grand nephew.  Actually families do not often know best, and the passage Rich submitted is no exception.  A few quotes from the passage from Rich’s family member account, and some comments based on my genealogical research:

My great grand father moved the family from Germany to the United States…”

Thaddeus Liebgott brought the family to America in 1912.   Thaddeus had made the trip twice before, in 1905 and 1907, and on this third trip brought his wife Barbara and a brood of children.  The family initially settled around St. Paul, Minnesota, but moved to Detroit, Michigan, around 1914 or so, and many moved on to California during the 1920s or 30s.  The family did not come from Germany, but from the village of Beresztoc, Hungary (present Banatski Brestovac in Serbia).  The Liebgotts were Danube Swabians, ethnic Germans who had settled on the southeastern frontier of Hungary in the 1700s.  This was part of a concerted Austro-Hungarian colonization policy to establish Roman Catholicism in the area as a buffer against the Muslim Turks.   Both the Liebgotts and the Zimmermanns came from Beresztoc.

“…sent all his kids including Joe Liebgott to Catholic school to cover up his jewish history.”

There is no evidence whatsoever that the family was ever Jewish.  I think this is conjecture by fellow soldiers, writers, film makers, and even family members, simply based on the name Liebgott.  Even my wife has said, “I wonder if we were ever Jewish, because Liebgott sounds Jewish”.  Liebgott, Zimmermann, and many other supposedly “Jewish” names, are simply German names.  (There are Pennsylvania Dutch Lutheran Zimmermans in my own family tree as well).  In immigration records, the Liebgotts are listed as “Germans” from Beresztoc, a German Catholic town, bound for St. Paul, where other German Catholics from Beresztoc were settling in the early 1900s.   The Liebgotts and Zimmermanns bound for St. Paul had typical Christian names such as Konrad, Tamas, Johan, Joseph, Adolph, Frank, Stefan, Elizabeth, Barbara, Catherine and Susan.  There certainly are Jewish Liebgotts, but immigration records from the time tend to list them as “Hebrew” with names such as Chatzkel, Chaim, Solomon, or Mowsche, and they are not bound for St. Paul, Minnesota.  

“…changed the family's last name before coming to America. This however is only a family rumor”.

Family rumor is not reliable.  All the immigration records for the Beresztoc Liebgotts show the name as “Liebgott”.  What might Liebgott have been changed from?  If they were going to change it to hide their Jewishness, why change it to the Jewish-sounding Liebgott?

“After moving to the United States my great grandfather would always denied the family being jewish”. 

Maybe he denied it because it wasn’t true.

“…Joe's grandparents…taught Joe a lot of his German language”.

I’ve read other accounts that say 101st Joe Liebgott spoke an “Austrian” dialect of German that was confused with Yiddish.  The Liebgotts, including my father-in-law, all spoke German at home, many up to the 1950s.  It was not standard German, and not “Austrian”, but the “archaic” Danube Swabian dialect.  As the Wikipedia article on Danube Swabians states:  To the ear of a Standard German speaker, the Danube Swabian dialect sounds like what it is: a mix of southwestern German dialects from the 18th century. 

Mark
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KlondikeFox
Registered User
Joined: 03 Mar 2008, 14:33

25 Apr 2013, 16:08 #10

I believe this was also a case of Hollywood simply 'not knowing', much as was the case withthe Albert Blithe story.  But such details take time to surface, sometimes decades, as I'velearned from my research. Vet testimony and memory are not always accurate, as wasevidenced by a well-known Easy vet stating he was a pallbearer at Blythe's funeral, circa1948.As to the scene at Landsberg, Don Malarkey has always been adamant that Easy Co. personnelnever walked inside the gates of that camp.  On the other hand, first battalion troops DID go insideand viewed the grim details up-close...another example of taking liberties with what actually happened.
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