WWII Veteran Speaks To Students To Combat Rise Of Anti-Semitism, Hate

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

Carl Arfa saw London on fire from German bombs, took down a German machine gun with his bazooka and liberated a work camp.

And at 94 years old, the West Boca Raton resident is still preaching his hatred for bullies.

The WWII Jewish American veteran fought in the Battle of Bulge, earned accolades including a Bronze Star and a French Legion of Honor Award and speaks to students about his time as an Army Sergeant.

“My No. 1 thing in my life is to stop hatred,” he said. “I am not going to tolerate hatred or bigotry in my lifetime.”

He has lectured to about 30 schools about his time in the war to help combat anti-Semitism, white supremacy and hate.

“I want to educate children from these schools that bigotry sucks,” he said.

The great-grandfather points to photos of his family as recent as the New Year pasted side-by-side with black and white photos of himself as a solider that cover the walls of his study inside his home.

He opens a black briefcase, which reveals a neatly folded flag. He calls his wife Barbara into the room to help him hold it up. They hold up a Nazi flag, signed by his fellow soldiers.

After taking out German SS troops who were hiding inside a monument, he climbed on top of it to remove a Nazi flag waving above. It is as pristine as it was the day he captured the flag.

“When I was in Germany, I climbed a flagpole, and took the Nazi flag down. Here we are more than 70 years later, I still have that monster flag,” he said. “It’s time everyone saw this symbol of prejudice, hate, violence and death.”

Originally from Monticello, NY, Arfa said he never experienced any anti-Semitism growing up.

“I didn’t understand anti-Semitism or hatred or bigotry,” he said. “My best friends were black and Japanese.”

It was during his basic training that took him outside of his comfort zone of New York and to the deep south where he was exposed to anti-Semitism.

About two weeks in, he had broken his arm and it was in a cast. While playing a game of gin with another soldier in Fort McClellan, Ala., he called out his opponent for making an illegal move in the game.

He made a derogatory comment about Jews and flipped the table, so Arfa nailed him in the head with his cast. Ultimately, the case against Arfa was dismissed.

Arfa served in the military from 1943-1946. He wanted to enlist earlier, but said his father made him finish high school.

It was the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed that he knew he wanted to fight for his country. He was on a date at the movie theater, when the owner announced Pearl Harbor was being attacked. At home, he huddled around the radio with his family as they listened to reports of the bombing.

After finishing high school, he enlisted and went on to work his way up to a sergeant. His time in the service is peppered with stories of falling in love, friendships that he maintained way after the fighting ended and the brutality of war.

He crawled in fox holes, shot down a machine gun earning him a Bronze Star and helped liberate more than 80 prisoners at Tekla, a work camp his company found near Leipzig, Germany.

After the war, he was assigned to be a police officer for civilians in Berlin. When his service ended, he returned home to marry the girl he dated before the war. They had two children and he went into business with his father painting hotels.

Eventually, he divorced and fell in love with his wife’s best friend whom he married. He started his own company Arfa Consultants, painting and renovating hotels. He sold his company to TV personality Faye Resnick’s husband in the 1980s.

Now retired, he spends his days swimming in his pool, supporting the Holocaust Documentation & Education Center in Dania Beach and speaking to students.