Class Notes & Profiles

Jack Berlin '50

By Samantha Soper '91

On June 10, 1944, Sergeant Jacob (Jack) Berlin ’50, from New York City, Captain MacDonald Austin, from Savannah, Georgia, and Frenchman Captain Raymond LeCompte parachuted into the Perigord region of southwest France to work with the French Resistance. In 2002, those three men were honored in the small town of Sainte-Nathalene. A local French newspaper reported on the unveiling and dedication of the monument (pictured).

“The event took place in the presence of the sole survivor of the epic mission, radio operator Jack Berlin, and his family, and was attended by a large audience that included members of the military and elected officials from the Sarlat region.” During the ceremony the details of those days in 1944 were recounted. The three men had made two aborted attempts to land in the Sarlat region on June 7 and 8. But on June 10, following signals sent by a member of the Resistance on the ground, the men were successful. Once on the ground, local French men and women came to their aid. A teacher from La Bo�tie junior high school repaired the men’s radio, which had been damaged during landing; the Lazuieze family hid the three men in a secret space in their home; and Elia Soulhi� welcomed the men in the early morning hours with truffle omelets. For several weeks, the commando team organized sabotage operations along the Paris-Toulouse railway to slowdown the Nazis’ advance toward Normandy, taught Resistants how to use explosives, and transmitted information to London. They then moved on to another French town, Lot-e-Garonne, for sabotage operations on the Bordeaux-Toulouse railway. Eventually the Americans saw further action in Southeast Asia. After the war, Berlin visited his cousin, Beatrice Berlin Stone, whose husband Joseph was director of the nursery school program at Vassar. He later entered Vassar as part of the class of 1950. After two years, he transferred to Harvard University to complete his degree in biology.

When learning about the AAVC trip to the Perigord this past spring, Anne Morris Berlin ’46 wrote from her home in Evans, Georgia, to AAVC to recount her husband’s experiences during the war. After hearing Berlin’s story, one of the travel group’s stops became Saint Nathalene to see firsthand the memorial dedicated to a Vassar alumnus. Anne also wrote in saying that “if he [Jack] was in better health, he would be tempted to join the travelers.” Reverend Jacob Berlin died May 29, 2004.