For Ernie Lorch, it was an amazing journey to justice.
Lorch’s father was one of the dozens of Jewish people killed by the Nazis during Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) in 1938. Shortly thereafter, Lorch emigrated from Germany to the U.S. with his mother.
After Germany declared war on the U.S. in 1941, Lorch enlisted and found himself in occupied Europe.
Lorch, now a 96-year-old Carmel resident, shared his story of delivering justice May 24 at the City of Carmel Memorial Day Ceremony at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts.
Since Lorch was fluent in German, he was assigned to a British Intelligence Unit, which interrogated Nazi soldiers. His unit interrogated German leaders such as Albert Speer, Hermann Goring, Franz von Papen and Gerd von Rundstedt.
“We treated our prisoners, mostly German, with respect,” Lorch said. “We did not abuse them. We didn’t beat them up. We didn’t waterboard them.”
Lorch said he heard of one incident at the end of the war that involved a prisoner being beaten by an interrogator.
“That was not approved. I wrote it up,” Lorch said. “All officers and non-coms sent a letter to the commanding general complaining about it. He came over and fired the man on the spot. I couldn’t imagine anything like that happening today, especially when you know what happened in Iraq.”
After the war, Lorch delivered 24 prisoners to Nuremberg, where the war trials were conducted. Lorch was born in Nuremberg.
“Many of these people were executed. Some were found not guilty, some were jailed for the rest of their lives,” Lorch said. “World War II was finally over. The Allies won, thank God. It was a long and costly war.”
Lorch said his grandmother had been in a concentration camp since 1942.
“I heard from headquarters that she was alive, released and taken to a little town near Munich,” Lorch said. “By Jeep I was able to get there and found her. She had fallen off a truck and broken an arm. The nuns in that town took good care of her. Can you imagine that reunion? Another miracle, I was able to bring her to the United States.”
And Lorch watched as justice was served.
“My dad was murdered by the same evil people we now had in jail and I was delivering to the International Palace of Justice,” Lorch said. “Is there an answer to this question? Is there justice in this world after all? For me, certainly there was.”