The words of Robert Rosenthal about the guilty verdicts at the Nuremberg trials. Mr. Rosenthal helped prosecute the Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg. After he had accomplished 54 missions over Germany flying a B-17. Mr. Rosenthal was awarded 16 medals, including the Distinguished Servive Cross. Mr. Rosenthal passed away at age 89 on April 20, 2007.
Rosenthal served in the 8th Air Force, the bomber command created a month after Pearl Harbor to bring Germany's war machine to a halt through high-altitude strategic bombing. The idea was that long-range, fast-moving bombers could fly unescorted into enemy territory in daylight and rain down destruction with impunity.
But there were too few support planes, among other unforeseen difficulties, and the bombers proved to be a fat target for German fighters and antiaircraft guns. Casualties were enormous; only submarine crews in the Pacific had a higher fatality rate.
Rosenthal, a 25-year-old newly minted lawyer, had sought out the challenge. He enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor and, when offered noncombat duties, insisted that he be sent to fight.
"I couldn't wait to get over there," he said in an interview with Donald L. Miller for the book "Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany" (2006).
"When I finally arrived, I thought I was at the center of the world, the place where the democracies were gathering to defeat the Nazis," he continued. "I was right where I wanted to be."
Robert Rosenthal was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 11, 1917, and went to school in the borough's Flatbush neighborhood. He was captain of the football and baseball teams at Brooklyn College, from which he graduated in 1938. He graduated summa cum laude from Brooklyn Law School. He had a job at a law firm in Manhattan when World War II started.
After his flight training, Rosenthal was assigned to the 8th Air Force's 100th Bomb Group, later known as "The Bloody Hundredth." He was stationed at a base in East Anglia in England.
Miller wrote that Rosenthal never talked about his passion to risk everything to fight Nazis. A rumor arose that he had relatives in German concentration camps. When asked directly, he replied, "That was a lot of hooey."
He said: "I have no personal reasons. Everything I've done or hope to do is because I hate persecution. A human being has to look out for other human beings or there's no civilization."
Mr. Rosenthal, thank you for your service.
Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu, Melekh HaOlam, Dayan HaEmet.