Courtesy of the U.S. Army
Brig. Gen. Sidney Gritz

Jewish Generals and Admirals in America's Military

Brig. Gen. Sidney Gritz:
Veteran of World War II,
Korean War and Vietnam War

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Brigadier General Sidney Gritz had a highly decorated Army military career which spanned World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War.

He was in one of the first Army units to enter the German Buchenwald Concentration Camp in World War II. General Gritz told his wife, Shirley, that he went over to one man, who seemed to be praying, and he told him that he was Jewish. He was uncertain whether the man heard him or not as he died in his hands.

Gritz was an officer in an engineering unit which was composed of Black and white officers. Their unit was assigned to clear the mines in front of General Patton’s Army. When his unit was assigned to bury the Buchenwald victims in a mass grave, many of the men balked at doing it. He climbed aboard a bulldozer and began to clear the bodies himself. He felt that there some of his ancestors were in that pile of corpses.

Sidney Gritz was born on January 8, 1918. He married Shirley Kay on November 3, 1946. They were married for 59 years and they had two children, a daughter, Sharon Yowell and a son, Stanford and two grandchildren.

Throughout his life, Sidney Gritz looked at people in their eyes with compassion when he was talking or lecturing about the German concentration camps. He spoke to many school children, to educate them and not to forget about men’s inhumanity to men and that this shouldn’t happen again.

Sidney Gritz started his military career as a private in World War II. He fought in the Battle of Normandy and worked his way up to Captain. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1970, while he was assigned in Germany.

He earned more than 20 medals for bravery and service which included the Bronze Star Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal.

He died on December 23, 2005 and was buried with full military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia.

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