The Legendary Life Of Sidney Shachnow – Holocaust Survivor Turned Elite Spec Ops Warrior

Sidney Shachnow

In 1934, Sidney Shachnow was born in Soviet Lithuania, and in 1941 the Nazis invaded, taking on the Red Army during Operation Barbarossa. While the Eastern Europeans were happy about the Germans coming, they quickly realized the Nazis were not better than the Soviets.

Fleeing Lithuania

The Nazis moved people out of areas Hilter wanted for the German Reich. If the area was already occupied, the Germans either physically removed or killed them.

Shachnow was not only Lithuanian. He was also Jewish. He was sent to the Kovno concentration camp, where most of his family did not survive. The Red Army eventually freed everyone in the camp, and Shachnow made a run for the west.

He made it to Nuremberg, which the U.S. occupied. He sold rare goods on the black market before finally getting a visa to the U.S. In 1950, he was in the U.S. going to school in Salem, Massachusetts.

Since he could not speak much English, he had a hard time. So he joined the Army and got his high school education there.

Joining The Army

In 1960, after becoming Sergeant First Class in the 4th Armored Division, he earned an infantry officer commission. He spent 32 years serving in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

In the Vietnam War, he donned a Green Beret and fought against the communist forces. He earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart after being injured in battle. He was shot in the leg and the arm, but he applied tourniquets and kept fighting.

He went home but had contracted tuberculosis and Typhoid Fever, making for a long recovery. After his wounds and illnesses healed, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and became a Major. He returned to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne and earned another Silver Star.

Cold War

After Vietnam, he went to Berlin to lead Detachment A, Berlin Brigade. They were to disrupt Soviet Bloc forces in case World War III began. For years the Special Forces Unit faced off against East German and Russian intelligence in plain clothes with no ID.

It was a deadly mission, but they carried it out. So successfully, Shachnow became the overall commander of the U.S. forces in Berlin.

After the war, he became a Major General and earned degrees from Harvard and Shippensburg State College. He also served as Chief of Staff, 1st Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.

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