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Three Song Stories: Robert Hilliard

Robert Hilliard
Robert Hilliard

Last night, WGCU aired the first episode of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s new PBS documentary series, “The U.S. and the Holocaust.” It examines how the United States opened its doors to just a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge as the Holocaust unfolded in Europe and in the wake of World War II.

It immediately reminded us of Sanibel resident, Robert Hilliard. Now 97, Mr. Hilliard was a guest on Three Song Stories in 2019 and during that conversation recounted his experiences during the war, including one about his time in Germany in the months after it had surrendered to the Allies when he was assigned to the United States Air Corps 2nd Air Disarmament Wing. Their job was to disarm the German Air Force and look for advanced technology to bring back to the U.S.

It was during that assignment he and a fellow soldier witnessed first-hand the way Jews and other displaced persons were being treated — and the total lack of assistance they were receiving from the Allies. They made it their mission to bring their story to the U.S. public and his efforts got the attention of President Truman himself, and saved many lives.

Click here to listen to Hilliard's original Three Song Stories episode.

Click here to watch the 2021 television documentary produced by WGCU called "A Force for Freedom: The Robert Hilliard Story."

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