In honor of Veterans Day, Jewish Treats presents a brief biography of Tibor “Ted” Rubin, a true hero whose story is one of courage, honor and patience.
Born in Paszto, Hungary in 1929, Rubin was the son of a shoemaker. He was a young teenager when the Nazis came, and his parents sent him along with a group of other young people to try and reach safety in Switzerland. Unfortunately, they did not make it, and Rubin was arrested and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp. (His parents and 2 of his 5 siblings were murdered by the Nazis.) Fourteen hard months later, the U.S. Army liberated Mauthausen. In gratitude, Rubin vowed to become a “G.I. Joe.”
Arriving in New York in 1948, Rubin enlisted in 1950 - a year after being rejected on his first attempt for failing the English test. He was sent to Korea. The fighting was intense, and Rubin displayed incredible bravery on numerous instances. For instance, Rubin once single-handedly held off enemy troops for 24 hours while his company retreated.
Rubin’s immediate superiors wished him to be commended, but they were tragically killed in action. The company’s sergeant, a noted anti-Semite, refused to acknowledge any honor for the Jewish soldier. Fellow soldiers later stated that they believed the sergeant deliberately sent Rubin into danger.
In late 1950, Rubin’s battalion was destroyed. Severely wounded in battle, he was taken prisoner. Having survived Mauthausen, however, Rubin was better able to adjust to the POW camp than the others. He tried to help as many other POWs as possible and often snuck out of the camp at night to steal food. He is credited with saving scores of lives over the 30 months of imprisonment. He also refused an offer to be released and repatriated to Hungary, which was then a communist ally of China.
After the war, Rubin moved to California and lived a quiet life. Fifty years later, however, in 2005, he received a surprising call. President George W. Bush wished to honor him with the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. Rubin’s file had been reopened as part of the Leonard Kravitz Jewish War Veterans Act that reopened military recommendations to screen them for discrimination.
A true war hero, Tibor Rubin passed away on December 5, 2015.
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