Sy Brenner - Speaker, Author and ex-POW of WWll
The Faces and Phases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
About Sy Brenner
The Early Days...
Samuel Brenner was born on June 2, 1922 in Montreal, Canada. He was 9 months old when his family
moved to Detroit, Michigan where he was raised.

As the youngest of six children, 'Sy'
(taken from his middle name, Seymour) was well  protected by his
brothers, Saul and Myer. He was also doted on by his sisters, Fanny, Rae and Clara.

Sy's father, Morris worked for a steel company during the depression and his mother, Rebecca was a
devoted wife and mother. As you can imagine, Sy's life was somewhat typical as the child of Austrian
immigrants.

However, in 1942 his life entered a path that would change
him forever. This is when he was drafted into WWll.
Brenner went into the 410th Infantry regiment of the 103rd Division. He won a medal for Expert with the M1
rifle. Later he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion medical detachment. It was also during Basic Training
that he received his United States Citizenship.

On the night of November 29, 1944, while serving in Southern France, Brenner was wounded and taken
prisoner by the Nazis. He was involved in a two week death march from Nothalden, France, in the Vosges
Mountains to Ludwigsberg, Germany at the height of the coldest winter in European History.

Brenner survived without food or water existing by eating snow. During this march, only 70% of the
prisoners, most of whom were wounded, survived. Most either died of exhaustion, froze to death, or were
shot by the Nazis for trying to escape or falling.

Incarcerated in Stalag 5A, Brenner was put in a hospital which had been a World War I Cavalry Stable. He
was put in charge of all Allied wounded POW's. With little more than basic first aid training, he had to do
surgeries and amputations. He also became the Man of Confidence representing the Allied Prisoners
complaints to the Commandant of the Camp.
It's no wonder he became the Resident Advocate at his
current residence, is it?

Brenner was recruited by and became very involved with French Underground and German Underground
activities. He also became involved with the little known about German Underground, which was run by the
wives of German officers helping the Allied Troops.

All the while, Brenner had to hide the fact he was Jewish. He was in 8 hospitals prior to being discharged in
December of 1945. During his capture, he went from 160 pounds to 97 pounds and lost his hair.

Upon return from his incarceration, Brenner was visited by the F.B.I. and told not to talk about any of his
experiences during the war. Because of this, he spent the majority of his life and experiences in silence.
This greatly added to his suffering of Post Traumatic Stress. He did not speak of his experiences for 50
years.

When taken prisoner, Brenner developed a lasting friendship with a French couple who had been captured
by the Germans and became slave laborers.

Joining Brenner in 1995 on his "face his past and retrace his steps" trip was his wife Resa, Resa's sister
and brother-in-law, Lois and Morey Sein of Beverly Hills.

They went from where he landed in France and was taken prisoner, and then reunited with the French
couple, Pol and Zaig Monjarret.

Pol had become a mayor of his town, and an internationally renowned musician and author. It was during
this trip that Sy was honored by the city of St. Die, France, because his battalion had saved the city.

Brenner was assisted by Monsieur Roland Prieur who was in charge of American cemeteries and
monuments. He also met with German Nazi Hunter, Willie Dresen, who told him not to look for "the Lady"
(the German Officer's wife) who he was in contact with for the German Underground.

Brenner received the following medals:

Purple Heart
a Bronze Star,
Combat Medic Medal (which he was the most proud of),
POW Medal,
Good Conduct Medal,
American Campaign Medal,
2 European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medals,
World War II Victory Medal,
Army of Occupation with German Clasp,
Expert Field Medical Badge,
Honorable Service World War II Lapel Button
Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar,
POW/MIA National Memorial award for Honored Service and Sacrifice.

Brenner's wife Resa used to joke that she deserved a medal for putting up with his jokes. He later had a medal made and awarded her for "Merited Matrimonial Service."

Sy and Resa (Max) married on June 18, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan and moved to Southern California in
1951 where he entered the sales field. They had three children, Donna (Cohen), Ron & Mo (Bailey), six
grand-children (Billy, Alicia and Seth Cohen, Megan and Sara Brenner, and Dylan Bailey) and two great
grandchildren (Jolee and Shayna Cohen,
daughters of Bill and Melanie).

In 1960, Brenner became an Executive Sales and P.R. Representative for Cinderella Fashions and moved
to San Diego. He remained in this position for 25 years, until his retirement.

It was also in the 1960's when Brenner became a highly sought after resource for the San Diego School
System. He regularly spoke to Social Studies classes on manufacturing and the interrelation of workers
from the field, to the factory, to the drawing board and then the consumer.

Brenner received publicity for this work in the San Diego Union and the Nationally renowned trade
magazine, Earnshaw's Review. He produced fashion shows and provided in-service classes for major
department stores and specialty shops, where he was known as the "Cinderella Man".

Brenner also escorted Anissa Jones on personal appearances. She played the character of Buffy from the
television show,
Family Affair. Cinderella Fashions made Buffy dresses that Anissa modeled.

A Shift in his topic, speaking in schools...
During the Gulf War, Brenner began talking to classes from the 5th grade up, explaining the war that
people were seeing on television.

He became a
speaker for 10 years to the History and War Class at U.C.S.D. He has spoken to over 68
organizations about his War experiences, including 5 times to the Leadership Classes of the Marine Corps
at Camp Pendleton and to the Navy, who presented him with an Honorary Top Gun Award.

Brenner escorted High School Seniors to Los Angeles on buses, telling them his story and taking them to
the Museum of Tolerance under the auspices of the United Jewish Federation.

Brenner has been an active member of POW groups and the Veterans Association regarding Post
Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He has been given a chapter in the book
Men of Honor and has been cited in
many other books and publications.

Interviewed by several television stations, Brenner also has his picture and his story as part of the POW
exhibit in the Veteran's Memorial Museum in Balboa Park. He is a member of Tifereth Israel Synagogue, the
DAV, and the Trinity
(previously known as Blackmer) Masonic Lodge.

Brenner continues to volunteer at La Vida Real retirement living center. He is a professional speaker and
the author of the his own biography as told to Abe Shragge, professor of History and curator to the San
Diego Veteran's museum. The book to buy is entitled,
The Night I Got Killed.
Sy Brenner's biography and picture are in the Veteran's Administration Building on the 4th Floor in Mission
Valley and the Veteran's Museum at Balboa Park in San Diego, California.

Sy Brenner currently resides in a beautiful California Assisted Living Facility where...

he is credited for the Reading (Enlargement) Machine in the Resident Library that was donated by
the Braille Institute.

he was an elected member on the resident board for La Vida Real and has been the designated
resident advocate.

he played Big Band music of the 20's & 30's twice a week; one day for the general residents and one
day for those in Memory Care.

he lost his beautiful wife, Resa (Max) Brenner on March 14, 2010 after 60+ years of marriage.
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