Remember Tibor Rubin: Immigrant, Solider, Hero

A good man died the other day. His name was Tibor Rubin.

A Jew born in Hungary, Tibor was sent by his father in 1944 to live in Switzerland to escape Nazi occupation. He did not make it to the border and was arrested. Tibor was sent to Mauthausen concentration camp. He was fourteen. His father was sent to Buchenwald; his mother and younger sister to Auschwitz. None survived. In the spring of 1945 Tibor’s camp was liberated by American troops.

Three years later Tibor entered the U.S. and sought to join the Army; he was deferred until he improved his English. In 1950 he asked to be sent to Korean. His commander advised him against it since he was not yet a citizen. To which Tibor replied, “Well what about the others (soldiers)? I cannot leave my fellow brothers.”

According to his New York Times obituary, Rubin, now promoted to corporal, had more than enemy troops to worry about in Korea. His sergeant was a virulent anti-Semite and routinely sought to put Rubin in the heaviest of fighting. He was a brave solider, once “single-handedly held off a wave of North Korean soldiers for 24 hours” enabling his fellow soldiers to retreat. He was not so fortunate.

Badly wounded, Corporal Rubin was captured and interned in a Chinese Communist POW camp. The Chinese knew he was from Hungary, a fellow communist nation, and offered to repatriate him to his homeland. Rubin refused again choosing to stay with his mates.

As his obit notes, Rubin knew and understood how to cope with prison camp deprivation so he took it upon himself to care for the other men. He risked his life repeatedly to escape the camp confines to scrounge for food and supplies, always returning to share what he had stolen. He also served as nurse to the sick.

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First published on 12.15.15