Nazi Involvement


     ` I had purchased a mechanically abused Stutz DV32, which needed an overhaul. The Stutz had a complicated eight cylinder, four valves per cylinder, double overhead cam engine. It was partially disassembled in my garage at home, when I met Simon Josef, an expert mechanic and engineer. Walking near the Red Hook docks where the Piranyi Brick factory was located, I noticed some Hungarian speaking men repairing a Mack truck. I stopped and began to converse with them in Hungarian. Their apparent leader was Josef, who said that he had jumped ship, a French cargo vessel, and the brickyard owner, a Hungarian had employed them. Josef said he, Ivani and Pista were Jews who were lucky to be in America and not in the hands of the Nazis. I went home and told my parents. They said I should invite for supper that evening.

     Josef, Ivani and Pista came and ate with us. It was an unexpected and unusual experience when Josef and my father discussed the Talmud, revealing that he was learned in Hebrew lore and tradition. Josef was an engineer, and a pilot. He had been assigned to a Junkers twin engine cargo plane that was being converted into a bomber for the Hungarian military, when he decided with Ivani, Pista and five anti-Nazi friends to defect and fly the Junkers to France. After a few months, they got jobs on a French ship that was to pick up cargo in America. That was the basic details of their escapade in fleeing the inevitable Nazi invasion of Hungary.

     I sought others to help them remain here and to get them gainful employment. Josef, Ivani and Pista found temporary refuge in my home. A jeweler, Willie Klein, took two of them in his home and found places for the others. During the weekends, with the help of the others, they overhauled my Stutz motor. Josef was an expert mechanic and soon the car ran as good as new. On one of his visits Josef said he offered his services as a pilot to the Royal Canadian Air Force, but they did not accept his offer. He finally found a position as a draftsman. . Ivani was a skilled tool maker and soon found gainful employment. The others had professions and skills that gained them employment. Josef and the others rented a large apartment, in Queens, and lived together.

     During a visit to my home, and after discussing the Gomorah with my father, Josef asked me for a favor. He had put an ad in the Magyar Nepsava newspaper, that an educated Hungarian mechanical engineer was looking for an American wife, and he received an answer. He had been corresponding with the girl, who lived in Roebling, New Jersey. He asked me to drive him there on Sunday so he could meet her personally.

     I asked Abe Wolfson, an attorney friend, to come along for the ride. He had volunteered to do legal work to help the refugee boys stay in America. Abe and Eleanor, his girl friend, and with Edythe and myself, we drove Josef to meet his female correspondent in Roebling, New Jersey. We waited outside while he went into her home. A short time later he came out and said he was staying there, and his new acquaintance would take him back. We motored back without him. That was the last I ever saw of Josef. Ivani told me that a few days later Josef returned, took his belongings and moved out of the apartment, and he did not leave any details where he was going, or a forwarding address. Within a month the others gave up the apartment, and found their own residences. Ivani was the only one that I had contact with over the years to follow.

     A year later I was working as Assistant Chief Engineer at Essential Industries, a firm manufacturing tooling for Vought Corsair. One morning after I parked my car in the firmís lot, and as I was about to enter the building, a man identifying himself as a FBI agent, stopped me and said he wanted to talk to me. We went into my office, and referring to notes, he interrogated me. He knew all about me, my background, my family, my signing petitions as a college student against Franco and the Spanish Civil War, Mussoliniís invasion of Ethiopia, my joining the German American Turn Verein, and all the jobs I ever held. He pressed me for details about Josef Simon, and I told him what I knew. He was not satisfied with details of my trip to Roebling, New Jersey. It conflicted with information he had, that I and Edythe, drove Josef Simon to New Jersey. Abe and Eleanor had stated that they were not with me on that trip..

     Edythe and I worried that I would lose my position and face some charges. A few weeks later some of the worry and pressure was eliminated. Abe finally told the FBI that he was afraid of any involvement, and had lied to protect himself. Some details of the FBI interest in Simon Josef, was explained. Pista had become suspicious, when he went through Josefís belongings and found papers that Josef Simon was a Nazi. He went to the authorities, and before anything could happen, Josef had moved out and vanished. Josef Simon, a German agent, had been assigned to Hungary eight years prior to flying the plane to France. He had been groomed to learn Hebrew and act as a Jew while gathering information. The escape was planned, and even the escapees getting jobs on a French ship, and jumping ship in America. The ad in the Magyar Nepsava newspaper was a coded message to get in contact with other agents. The girl he was supposed to have contacted in New Jersey was never located.

     Throughout the war, on numerous occasions, my father and I were questioned to find out if Josef Simon contacted us. He never did and to this day I have no idea where he is.

Copyright 1997 by Dr. Lance Martin

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