Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

© Jeff Matthews  entry June 2003
volcanoes (4)

Herman & Vesuvius 


Vesuvius eruptonI can't believe that Herman was holding out on me, or maybe I just didn't pay sufficient attention when he told me of some "snapshots" he took during WW2.

Herman Chanowitz is an American who has lived in Naples for many years with his Sicilian wife. He was part of the WW2 invasion force in Salerno that fought its way up the center of Italy, pushing the Germans back from Monte Cassino and making its way up into Germany.

For his efforts during the war and for all the time he has contributed as an ambassador of good will in coordinating visits by young members of the NATO community in Naples to various towns in the area that were directly involved in wartime hostilities, Herman was recently made an honorary citizen of the little town of San Pietro, not far from Cassino.

"Anyway," said Herman, "I have some snapshots I took in WW2." 
"Oh." (Vague interest on my part.) 
"I have a couple of Vesuvius." 
"So do I, Herman." 

"Are yours erupting?" 
"As in the 1944 eruption?" 
"Yup. Took'em from a Piper Club while we were flying over the eruption." 
"You…were…flying…over…the…eruption…"

It took Herman only 25 years to tell me that. It turns out that he has photos from the North African theater all the way to the Nazi death camps. I feel guilty about not wanting to see yet more photos of those horrors, but I suppose I will have a look sooner or later. In the meantime, I settled for a nice 8x10 glossy of the 1944 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. It has the classic dense column of smoke billowing thousands of feet above the mountain. I am sure there are other photos like it, but this one is mine. 

(Click here to link to Herman's "Oral History of WW2" entries.)

[Photo credit: photo by Herman Chanowitz; restoration by Tana A. Churan-Davis.]


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