Dr. Ruth Westeimer (Counselor)
(Karola Ruth Siegel)
b. 4 Jun 1928 – d.
Israeli Army, Haganah,
In January 1939 Ruth was sent to Switzerland by her mother and grandmother after her father was taken by the Nazis. By 1941, both her parents were presumed dead and Westheimer was left on her own. At 17 she emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, and dedicated to the building of a Jewish homeland, joined Haganah, an underground Jewish military organization. Despite her diminutive height (4’7”), she served as a sniper and a sharpshooter. Says Dr. Ruth of that interval:
When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe. Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded.
My legs were almost ripped off on my 20th birthday in 1948 in Jerusalem from cannon ball shrapnel which exploded in the residence where I was living. Three others were killed instantly and many more were wounded. The metal pierced both my legs, and there was blood everywhere. A cannon ball from Jordan had smashed through the window. I was thrown 20 feet. The strangest thing was that all I could think about was whether there might be some blood on the brand-new shoes I had just gotten for my birthday, and amazingly there wasn't even a drop on them, which was all I cared about in some kind of strange denial.
Her service was cut short when Westheimer was seriously wounded in that attack on her birthday during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Her recovery was lengthy taking her several months to regain the ability to walk.