Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Lost Friend/Savior
Location: Dachau, Germany
Date: May 1, 1945
Details: Holocaust survivor Stephan Ross (born Szmulek Rozental) is searching for an American soldier who helped save him after being released from a concentration camp in 1945.
In 1939, at an isolated Polish farm near Lodz, Josef and Faja Rozental sent their youngest son Szmulek to live with a Catholic family. Sadly, Szmulek never saw his parents or most of his family again. Less than a year later, he was found by the Nazis and placed in a concentration camp. From the ages of nine to fourteen, he was interred at ten different camps. The last camp he was sent to was Dachau in Germany. He witnessed hundreds of people either being executed or dying of starvation. He was rarely fed and often feared that he was going to die.
After several successes against the Germans in 1944, allied forces began to liberate concentration camps. On April 29, 1945, the forces reached Dachau and the surviving prisoners were liberated. Szmulek, now fourteen, and his older brother were among those freed. Only later did they learn that their parents and six siblings were killed in the other camps.
At the time of the liberation, Szmulek weighed just sixty pounds and was infested with lice. Two days after the liberation, he and the other prisoners were released. As he and other former prisoners were walking along a road, they passed an American tanker with several soldiers sitting on it. One soldier was eating food from a can and noticed Szmulek. The soldier went up to him and offered him his food. Szmulek was so thankful that he went down and kissed the soldier's boots. The soldier told him that everything was going to be okay and that he was finally safe. He then gave him more food and a handkerchief. He only later realized that the handkerchief was actually an American flag, the symbol of freedom.
Szmulek was emotional and deeply moved by the soldier's compassion. This helped give him the strength to survive and continue with life. He kept the soldier's flag with him when he and his brother Harry moved to the United States in 1948. After moving, he changed his name to Stephan "Steve" Ross. He married and had a son and daughter. Today, he lives in Boston and is a licensed psychologist, working with disadvantaged teenagers. He wants to help other children the way that the unknown soldier helped him.
Stephan Ross hopes that one day he will be reunited with the unknown American soldier. He believes that the soldier was part of the 191st Army Tank Battalion. He was traveling from Dachau to Munich around May 1, 1945.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the November 29, 1989 episode.
Results: Solved. Gwen Allanson, the daughter of Lt. Steve Sattler, saw a re-airing of Stephan's story and was certain that Sattler was the soldier that Stephan was looking for. Sattler was part of the 191st Army Tank Battalion and had often told her the story of helping a young boy at Dachau; the details seemed to match perfectly. However, at the time, she was unable to get in contact with Stephan. Years later, she told the story to her niece, Brenda Clark, who decided to search for Stephan.
Finally, on August 26, 2012, Stephan Ross received a call from Brenda, the granddaughter of his American hero. Sadly, he learned that Steve Sattler had died on December 7, 1986. Despite the disappointment of the bad news, he was excited at the prospect of finally finding word of the soldier after sixty-seven years. On November 11, 2012, Stephan Ross was reunited with descendants of Lt. Steve Sattler at a Veterans Day ceremony in the Massachusetts State House.
In 2017, the documentary, Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross, was made about Stephan's life and his search for his benefactor. Sadly, Dr. Ross passed away on February 24, 2020 at the age of eighty-eight.
- Stephan Ross on Unsolved.com
- Stephan Ross on Wikipedia
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