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Guide to the Benjamin Segan Letters
1943-1945
 MS 3024

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 21, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical/Historical Note

Benjamin David "Ben" Segan was born in New York City on 27 August 1924, to Russian immigrants Jacob and Lillian Segan. Ben attended George Washington High School in Manhattan, where he met his future wife, Judith "Judy" Berman. During his senior year he attended school by night to work in a defense plant by day.

Nineteen-year-old Ben was drafted into the United States Army as a private on 28 April 1943. His initial processing took place at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he began his correspondence with Judy, writing to her almost daily until he left the service. By mid-May 1943 he was at Camp Croft, South Carolina, where he remained in basic training through late September and to operate radio equipment.

By October 1943 he was sent to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, and from there shipped to Italy to join the 93rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion. In Europe he served in Italy, southern France, and Germany. During the Battle of Monte Cassino (a.k.a. the Battle for Rome), January-May 1944, he worked in the 93rd's communication section.

Although he saw combat, Ben refrained from graphic descriptions in writing to his fianceé. Some of his reticence was due to restrictions imposed by the censors. For example, on 7 April 1945, during the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp from the Nazis, which he witnessed, Ben wrote, cryptically (in letter 574), "I've been extremely busy recently darling, & don't think it's so necessary to tell you as you must have a[n] inkling from the latest news reports on our progress."

The war in Europe ended on 8 May 1945, but Ben was still there as late as November 10th (the date of his last letter in the collection), when he wrote from the French port of Le Havre, unsure of which ship he'd be on or indeed when it would sail.

Ben was honored with the American Service Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Once home he married Judy on 10 March 1946 at Temple Ansche Chesed on Manhattan's Upper West Side. They raised two children and worked together for many years in New York City's Garment District.