Bradenton Holocaust survivor and 101-year-old World War II veteran
Bradenton, Fla. – Robert Schweiger of Bradenton, knows the value of hard work.
He likes to cook dinner every night after working as an options day trader, and the 101-year-old said he has no plans to slow down anytime soon. But for him, reaching this age has been a feat on its own.
Schweiger was a Holocaust survivor, but many members of his Jewish family were not so lucky.
“Consider it my brother, he was killed in the concentration camp,” Schweiger said, pointing to his family tree.
He and his family fled Austria when he was 16 years old, and they eventually reached Detroit, Michigan.
“Between my mother and I, we have $7 in our pocket,” says Schweiger.
But just a few years after finding refuge on American soil, Schweiger was captured during World War II, sent back to the land he had escaped from, and faced death once again as one of the first groups arrived in Normandy on D-Day.
“We’re on Omaha beach, grabbing a shovel, digging a little deeper to hide,” Schweiger said. “You swear the plane you saw there could see you in the foxhole,” Schweiger said.
The lavishly decorated World War II veteran escaped from Europe for the second time in his life.
Before moving to Bradenton in the ’70s, Schweiger became a successful businessman in the Detroit auto industry. He had a family and was happily married to his lover for 78 years until her death just a few years ago.
“I still miss her terribly. They say it’s going to get a little better but really not, she’s a part of my life,” Schweiger said.
Despite his loss, World War II hero, Holocaust survivor, and refugee knows something about perseverance.
“I can appreciate America more than a lot of people can because I wasn’t born here,” Schweiger said.
He said living in this country is a gift that he has never taken lightly.
Schweiger said: “All the success in the world that you can have in this country, nothing will stop you. Where in the world is a man without money and without language. A language like me can be as successful as I am.”
And the secret to Schweiger’s successful and productive life, he says, is simple. First, work hard and second:
“Don’t drink any cheap wine, that will get you hooked,” says Schweiger.