Chesterfield honoring 3 residents who experienced WWII 3 different ways


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

In his 1998 best-seller, Tom Brokaw coined the phrase “The Greatest Generation” which created a well-deserved awareness, wonder, and appreciation of those Americans born in the 1920s. They were the Americans who, through their sacrifices, deprivation, determination – not to mention blood sweat, and tears – saved the world for democracy and created a cadre of leadership that led the United States and the world through the next decades.

Although many veterans and those who experienced the horrors of World War II have passed away, their memories will never do so.

Remembering the Greatest Generation

At 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7, the Heritage Foundation of Chesterfield will host an event celebrating the lives of three local citizens, each with a unique first-hand experience of World War II: A Holocaust survivor, a Nazi camp liberator and an American P.O.W. in Germany.

Ben Fainer, Holocaust Survivor: Fainer was a Chesterfield business owner who spent six years in Nazi camps, from age 9 to 15.
Starting at age 9 in 1939, Mr. Fainer survived six slave-labor camps until he was liberated from a death march near Buchenwald at age 15. He lost his mother, three siblings and 250 other relatives during the Holocaust.

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After liberation, he met his future wife, Susie, while in Ireland working for relatives. The couple married and immigrated to the United States by way of Canada. After 60 years of silence, he met and became best friends with one of his liberators. Fainer died in 2016.

David Lupo, U.S. Army Liberator of Dachau: Lupo was a Chesterfield resident who fought his way across France and Germany. In the spring of 1945, he began to hear something called “concentration camps” being mentioned in Signal Corps communications. It wasn’t until he found himself opening the gates of Dachau that he understood what those messages were talking about.

Frank Huelskoetter, U.S. Army P.O.W. in Germany: Huelskoetter was a Chesterfield resident who fought his way across France and Germany before his unit was surrounded and taken prisoners. They were lined up in a field, and the Germans set up machine guns pointed at them. Huelskoetter assumed he was going to be killed.

The Ceremony

A ceremony will be held at the Chesterfield Community Center at Chesterfield Mall, followed by a book signing and open house and at the Chesterfield History Museum.

Speakers will include Bob Nation, mayor of Chesterfield; Michael Staenberg (friend of Fainer); Sharon Berry (Fainer’s daughter); Helen Turner, St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum; and Mark Leach, co-author with Ben Fainer of “Silent for Sixty Years: Ben Fainer – Holocaust Survivor” and editor of “Why We Fought: Nazi Camp Liberators of St. Louis.”

Immediately following the ceremony, the museum will be open, and attendees may tour it at their leisure and watch a slide show, Chesterfield’s WWII Heroes, shown on a continuous 10-minute loop.

Sharon Berry and Mark Leach will be available to sign the book and answer questions. RSVPs are required. You can RSVP online, or by leaving a phone message at 484-393-1734.