. . . from the worthy site of my good friend DOUBLETAPPER:
Dr. Ruth Westheimer, former Israeli Sniper, sitting on the hood of an IDF Jeep
The future Dr. Ruth Westheimer was born Karola Ruth Siegel in Germany in 1928, the only child of an Orthodox Jewish couple. In 1939, after her father had been taken by the Nazis, her mother and grandmother sent her to Switzerland to get her out of harm's way. She did not see her family again, as they were murdered in the Holocaust.
Ruth was 17 with no home, family or country when WW II ended. Like many other Jewish Holocaust refugees, she moved to Israel (the Palestine). Ruth, dedicated to the building of a Jewish homeland, joined Haganah, an underground Jewish military organization. She served as a sniper. Says Dr. Ruth of that interval:
"When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe. Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded."
Her military career was cut short when she was seriously injured:
On her twentieth birthday, just 8 days after the Haganah was absorbed into the IDF, just as she finished up her watch, an Arab shell exploded at her feet, seriously injuring her.
"My legs were almost ripped off on my 20th birthday in 1948 in Jerusalem from cannon ball shrapnel which exploded in the residence where I was living. Three others were killed instantly and many more were wounded. The metal pierced both my legs, and there was blood everywhere. A cannon ball from Jordan had smashed through the window. I was thrown 20 feet. The strangest thing was that all I could think about was whether there might be some blood on the brand-new shoes I had just gotten for my birthday, and amazingly there wasn't even a drop on them, which was all I cared about in some kind of strange denial."
In an interview with Tom Foreman, Dr Ruth answered some questions about her experience in the fledgling Israeli Military, the Haganah and the IDF.
Tom Foreman: You were trained as a sniper?
Dr. Ruth: We were all trained in the forerunner of the Israeli Defense Force, and for some reason that I can't explain I'm a very good sniper. I can put five bullets into this little red circle (makes circle with her fingers). I know how to throw hand grenades...
Tom Foreman: There was a bomb that went off in the barracks.
Dr. Ruth: Yes.
Tom Foreman: Many of your friends were wounded as well?
Dr. Ruth: Yes and died. Boy you did your homework.
Tom Foreman: Do you think that some of those experiences of your life made you bolder? Many people comment that the thing that strikes them about you is that you so fiercely walk into any culture and you ask very intimate questions.
Dr. Ruth: I am what you call bold because the one thing that I've learned coming out of Nazi Germany is that I have to stand up and be counted for what I believe. And that's how people are listening to me, because they know it's not a put-on.