Sunday, August 19, 2012

Immigrant of the Day: Paul Fairbrook, WWII veteran decoded German documents

Paul Fairbrook was born in 1923 in Berlin, Germany as Paul Schoenbach, the son of Alvin James and Lotte Schoenbach. The family changed their name to its English translation Fairbrook after arriving in the United States. His father was a banker. When his father realized that it would be impossible for his children to obtain a proper education in Germany because of the segregation of Jews, he moved the entire family to Palestine in 1933.  To obtain the proper documents for entry into the United States, his father felt he needed to visit a sympathetic US consul in Amsterdam, Holland. While traveling through Germany in 1937 to get to Holland, the family was detained by Germany authorities who told them that Jews were no longer German citizens and had to leave Germany within 24 hours.

In New York, Fairbrook attended high school and, in January 1943, was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was trained at the Military Intelligence Training Center because of his competency in German and French.  He was assigned to a special secret unit attached to the Pentagon, known only as P. O. Box 1142 and based at Fort Hunt, VA. His primary assignment was to interpret documents taken from the German Army Afrika Korps in order to analyze their methods of operation. He was transferred to England shortly after D Day, but was brought back to his assignment at Fort Hunt after six weeks. His efforts played a major part in the creation of the “Order of Battle of the German Army” publication, which spelled out the details of the structure of the German Army,i.e. types of units, methods of operation, organization, officers, tactics, etc. this publication was given to the US army officers during the European campaign.

Following his discharge from the Army in 1946 he attended Brown University studying comparative literature. He also obtained a MBA from Michigan State University. He specialized in food services and became Dean of the Culinary Institute of America and Director of Auxiliary Services at Northern Illinois University, and the University of the Pacific. Subsequently he formed his own consulting firm in the field of college and university food services. He is the recipient of several national awards for his work.

Fairbrook recently talked about his WWII experience at a Moose Lodge lunch in Lodi, California.


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