For a few years I’ve had the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) of a 79th Division Jewish soldier named Harvey Robitshek. Like many other service member files and stories I have read, I was guided to this by Harvey. Little did I know when I opened his file just how much of an education I was going to receive.
As I am speaking out more about how families coped, or kept silent, pushed down their emotions or let them out. Speaking out about inherited trauma and how the war is still impacting us on a mostly unconscious level today unless we tap into it and it surfaces. Speaking out about breaking the silence about what our families endured during and after, especially the women and civilians, whether in the U.S. or Europe. So much unprocessed trauma that children, grandchildren (ME), great grandchildren have to process now as we see how it negatively or destructively impacts our lives. As I am speaking out, I felt today was a good time to share Harvey’s file and a little about his story. Not every family received this VIP treatment and level of information. We can see how times have not really changed since then. Today as well, if you have money, connections, and education, you can gain a lot.
I do understand that the numbers of WWI or WWII dead prohibited giving this level of information to every family. That doesn’t change the fact that the majority of our families with war dead or Missing In Action/Unrecoverable, are still feeling the grief. Still seeking answers. Yet our government has tied these very important files up in red tape for years and only some are easily available.
Don’t we all deserve answers, closure, healing and peace?
Don’t we all deserve to know what happened so we can make sense of our own lives? To better see the patterns, beliefs, and behaviors we have inherited? To be able to heal our trauma that was handed to us through our DNA from our WWII family?
Since 2010 I’ve been studying military records for all branches, primarily for WWI and WWII. I’ve done in-depth research into the Graves Registration Service and their death files. One Field Manual or a handful of IDPFs never tells the entire story about what families endured or had to deal with to learn information about their son/daughter, husband, father, uncle, etc’s., death, temporary burial, identification, and possible repatriation. One file does not also dispel the MYTH that the government paid for all expenses to repatriate remains. You can read more about that in an article I wrote in 2017 about Joseph Kilian and download and read his files. Not everyone came home. Some families could not afford it.
Reading hundreds of IDPFs, over the years, I have gained a lot of knowledge and felt a lot of family grief over their war dead. I also observed many patterns.
- Women received less information than men who wrote to the military or government requesting information.
- Uneducated men or men with little education, received less information and assistance than education men.
- Men or women with no social connections or political connections or money or education or a combo, received less information than those who had one or more of these things.
- More often than not, sisters of a soldier spoke more loudly and authentically and demanded answers than mothers or widows. Mothers and widows often apologized for “being an inconvenience” or “asking too many questions of busy men” or any number of ways they worded trying to stay small in energy and not be a “bother”.
- People with education and money who reached out to local military organizations or politicians often received more information than others.
All of this is documented in the IDPFs if you read enough and put the puzzle together.
So what did I learn from Harvey’s file which you can download in full? Many things. You can also download a PDF of some of the key pages in his 361 page IDPF. Below are some key points.
- I learned that because his father had connections, education, and money, he got answers to all of his questions. Never in any other IDPF have I seen military responses that covered their butts so completely and answered all questions asked. Additionally, it felt like they were bending over backward to give information or make every change his father requested. Not something I’ve seen done in other files.
- I learned a little about Jewish burial traditions. You can also note the changes requested by Harvey’s father as the process for repatriation goes on.
- I better understood what the military would pay for and handle and what they would not.
- It also appeared every step of the personal effects collection, inventorying, transportation, receiving was documented. Again, more thoroughly than any other files I’ve read.
- Also, Harvey’s cousin was to accompany the remains but his father did not want the expense, so that was also changed.
What do you discover as you read Harvey’s file? How does it compare to other IDPFs you have read? You can visit the Research Resources on this website to read more IDPFs from all military branches if you are new to these files.
What questions do you now have about your own family’s WWI or WWII war dead or Missing In Action service members? What questions do you have about how your family grieved and processed, or did not? What questions do you now have about your own life and what triggers you, what beliefs, behaviors, and patterns you carry?
If you would like to explore more of this and learn about ancestral patterns and healing, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Ancestral Souls Wisdom School where I’m hosting classes, healing services, consultations, and more.
© 2021 WWII Research & Writing Center