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Wilhelm Beigel

Wilhelm Beigel, Vilna 1933

Engagement portrait of Lieutenant Ferdynand Beigel and Liza Kowarski. 1925

Wilhelm Beigel (now William Begell) is the son of Ferdinand and Liza
(Kowarsky) Beigel. He was born May 18, 1927 in Vilna, where his family
owned the Hotel Bristol, the largest hotel in the city. The extended
Beigel family lived in the hotel before World War II. Wilhelm's father
was an officer in the Polish army. The Beigel family was marginally
religious, attending synagogue only on the high holidays. Wilhelm
attended the Miesckiewicz Polish gymnasium until the Soviets seized
control of Vilna in 1940, and then went to the Russian Lenin high
school. Following the German invasion of Lithuania in June 1941, the
Beigel family went to work for a German regiment, identified as
L27341. Wilhelm was assigned to the kitchen, where he chopped wood,
and organized the delivery of food and the unloading of supplies. In
September 1941, the Germans established a ghetto in Vilna. Owing to
his military background, Wilhelm's father, Ferdinand, became a member
of the Jewish police in charge of the Jewish prison. The immediate
family lived in the ghetto for the next two years. On September 4,
1943 Latvian SS shot and killed Ferdinand. Wilhelm, who was in the
hospital with pleurisy at the time, found announcements of his
father's death printed by the graphics department of the ghetto. A
week and a half later, on September 23, 1943, the ghetto was
liquidated. Just prior to its liquidation a number of Jewish labor
camps were established in the city. Several hundred skilled workers
and their families were transferred to these camps from the ghetto.
Wilhelm, his mother and maternal grandmother were sent by Jacob Gens
to the HKP (Heereskraftfahrpark/Ost/562) labor camp. Gens thought this
would save them from deportation. At HKP, the men worked in the German
vehicle repair shops and the women, in the kitchen or sewing shops.
Wilhelm escaped from this labor camp on June 30, 1944 and returned to
Vilna, where he was liberated two weeks later. Subsequently, he
learned that his mother and grandmother had been taken to Ponary and
shot four days after he had left the camp. Just before moving into the
Vilna ghetto, the Beigel family hid their photo albums in the attic of
their home. After the liberation Wilhelm retrieved the albums. He took
selected photographs with him when he fled Lithuania with the Bricha
(even though he was told not to bring anything which might identify
him). After reaching Germany, Wilhelm finished high school (first in
Munich and then in Dillinger an der Donau). In June 1947, with the
help of an uncle in New York City, he immigrated to the U.S. aboard
the SS Marine Marlin.\
Credit: USHMM, courtesy of William Begell

From: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5325/is_/ai_n21392664

.....Bill, an ASME Fellow, has been the recipient of many awards throughout his life, mostly for his engineering work, especially in the area of heat transfer. In fact, before starting his technical publishing firm, Begell House, in the 1960s, he served as the managing engineering director of the Heat Transfer Research Facility in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. This was just one of a number of impressive appointments Bill has earned throughout the course of his life.....
....His personal story-chronicled by director Stephen Spielberg while gathering information for his film projects-reads like a novel of intrigue. Bill was born in the city of Vilna, then in Poland. Today, known as Vilnius, it is the capital of the Republic of Lithuania. At age 17, after heeding the thinly veiled warnings of Maj. Karl Plagge, a German army officer, Bill jumped out of a window to flee a labor camp and begin a long road toward freedom

the long-time chair of the Mechanical Engineering magazine Editorial Advisory Board