A 99-year-old Villager has died after a remarkable life in which he fled Nazi Germany as a boy and returned with U.S. forces during World War II to defeat Adolf Hitler.
Heinz Jaffe will be interred Monday at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. A celebration of life will be held at 4 p.m. Monday at Temple Shalom in Oxford.
Jaffe was born Feb. 22, 1923 in Germany. He was Bar Mitzvahed at a synagogue in Nuremberg, Germany that was burned down on Kristallnacht, the “Night of the Broken Glass.” Fearing what Hitler had in store, 13-year-old Jaffe and his 15-year-old brother were sent in 1936 to the United States to live with an uncle they had never met. His parents were lucky enough to obtain visas and get out in 1938. His grandmother and many other family members perished in Germany.
Jaffe was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and became an American citizen while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va.
“It was a proud day in my life,” he said.
He and his fellow soldiers made it all the way to Paris.
“The inhabitants of Paris welcomed us with flowers and wine,” Jaffe said.
From there they went to a village in Luxembourg where the Germans unleashed an artillery barrage.
“One of our sergeants yelled at me to jump into a Jeep and move it to the back of a building for better protection. When I told him I could not drive, he could not believe that an American soldier could not drive a car! However, I had grown up in a city and my family didn’t own a car and I had not learned to drive one,” Jaffe said.
He was later wounded during a military operation in Krauthausen, Germany and received the Purple Heart. He was also awarded the Bronze Star.
He married Betty Wand in 1954. They had a daughter and a son.
Heinz and Betty Jaffe moved to The Villages in 2005. She preceded him in death.
Jaffe never lost his zest for life and on his 93rd birthday purchased a red Ford Mustang.
He has been a prominent figure at Yom Hashoah and Kristallnacht commemorations to remind people in the Tri-County Area to “never forget.” He lit a candle during the commemoration in April 2022.
He died June 8 while listening to classical music surrounded by all four of his grandchildren. He leaves behind his daughter Linda Jaffe and her husband Brian Kiss; his son Peter Jaffe and his wife Shelley Jaffe; his four grandchildren Alana Kiss, George Kiss, Alex Jaffe, and Elise Jaffe; his step-grandson, Jonathan Kiss and his step-great-grandson, Carter Kiss.