Fri05062016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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German immigrant, U.S. Navy vet reflects on WWII service



Henry Burger, pictured today with his wife, Lottie, far left, escaped Hitler’s oppression as a young man and joined the U.S. Navy. Courtesy of Moldaw Residences

People have many reasons for volunteering to serve their county. A victim of Nazi oppression growing up Jewish in Germany, former longtime Los Altos resident Henry Burger was motivated to enlist at 17 after his family successfully immigrated to the U.S.

Burger’s parents were able to bring their family to New York in 1938, escaping Hitler’s oppression. By the mid-1940s, Burger attempted to join the military to fight those who were persecuting his family and friends who remained in Germany. However, he was rejected because he had not been in the U.S. long enough to apply for citizenship and was therefore categorized an “enemy alien” during much of World War II. Later, Burger was drafted into the U.S. Navy and finalized his citizenship after completing boot camp.

Now, looking back at his time in the military, the 87-year-old resident, who moved to Palo Alto’s Moldaw Residences in 2010, said he is grateful for what he believes was an enlightening and interesting experience.

“I was in the same mindset as countless others – stop Hitlerism any way you could,” Burger said. “Having been a victim of the Nazis, I was anxious to serve in any capacity and glad I had the chance to repay the U.S. for what this country has done for me.”

Burger’s family lived in one of the worst cities under Hitler’s control – Nuremberg, where Hitler addressed the masses. He recalled the different ways he and other Jews living there were oppressed during his childhood.

“In ’34, we couldn’t go to public schools anymore – we were sent to separate Jewish schools – and the next year all non-Jewish teachers were told they could no longer teach us there,” he said. “My parents got us out just 10 days before Kristallnacht, a series of violent attacks and demolitions targeting Jews, so we were very fortunate.”

After finishing boot camp, he went before the court to verify his U.S. citizenship before deployment.

“If I had been captured by the Germans during the war, I would have been killed on the spot as a ‘traitor of the nation,’” he said.

Burger underwent additional training in Fort Lauderdale and Guantanamo Bay, and then was sent to various naval bases. He was also stationed on the USS Oregon City, a newly built heavy cruiser.

“Although I didn’t get the opportunity to engage in combat, I am glad I served,” he said. “It was an interesting experience for sure, and I think everyone learns a lot when serving in the military.”

Burger said being in the military makes one more sensitive toward the needs of others and develops deep relationships. Probably the most important life lesson learned during his time in service, he noted, was how to get along with different kinds of people from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Burger maintains that it’s important to hear the stories of those who have served and be reminded of veterans’ sacrifices.

“America is the greatest country in the world, despite the many problems we may face,” he said. “In my opinion, we need to do more to meet the needs of our nations’ veterans once they return from service.”

When Burger finished his military duty, he enrolled in college and simultaneously finished his high school requirements during night classes. He enjoyed a successful career in public accounting and married his childhood sweetheart, Lottie, who had escaped from Germany with her family at approximately the same time his family did. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

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