Arthur Goldschmidt: A life electrified by service and engineering

Arthur Goldschmidt is a World War II veteran and former electrical engineer for RCA.

These days, 93-year-old Arthur Goldschmidt is in the business of burning. He said he’s burned so many DVDs that the drive on his computer is starting to give out.

As a World War II Army veteran, Goldschmidt often finds himself passing out DVDs chronicling WWII when he goes somewhere or meets someone new. He said today too many people don’t know about the Battle of the Bulge or other World War II events, and his hope is to inform them.

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Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Goldschmidt worked his way through the school system quickly. He jumped from kindergarten to first grade in the span of six months. He attended Brooklyn Technical School and graduated at the age of 16.

Goldschmidt said the school was home to two radio stations, and he volunteered to work the transmitters in his free time. Upon graduating, a professor helped get Goldschmidt a job at one of the stations.

At the age of 17, Goldschmidt approached his parents and asked for their permission to join the Army. His parents denied his request, but at the age of 18, Goldschmidt was drafted.

He said he was lucky enough to pass a test that would put him on track for 13 weeks of basic training, which would be followed by college courses. At week 12, the Army shutdown the program, and Goldschmidt didn’t get to go to college with the Army. He said after his service, he’d still get his degree.

He was sent to Southern France, which he recalls being bitterly cold. He said they lost just as many men to the cold as they did combat. He said Army Gen. Omar Bradley didn’t anticipate the war going on past the spring of 1944, so the men weren’t equipped with any winter clothing.

Goldschmidt and his fellow young recruits were often called “the baby division” because of their young age. He said one of his duties was manning a bazooka, which was a two-man job. He said he usually fired the gun and his partner loaded.

During his time in France, he was part of the Battle of the Bulge, but after 14 months in the service, disaster struck. Goldschmidt was one of 19 men on the back of a truck when the convoy went over a landmine. Everyone on the truck was killed apart from Goldschmidt and two other men.

“The truck was completely demolished,” Goldschmidt said.

Goldschmidt was blown over the tailgate and fractured his back. He would spend the next nine months in a military hospital. When he arrived to the hospital in England, Goldschmidt was put in a full body cast.

After three weeks in England, he was transferred back to the states to a hospital in Massachusetts. He spent three months in the full body cast and nine months in the hospital before returning to New York.

Goldschmidt attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he obtained a master’s degree in electrical engineering and went on to work for an electrical firm in downtown Manhattan. When he decided he wanted a change, he found himself interviewing at RCA in Moorestown. He moved to South Jersey in 1945.

During a ski trip, Goldschmidt met his Bernice Rall Goldschmidt. He said he didn’t see her again for months, but she called him one day out of the blue because he had a car. She was planning a trip to Jones Beach with some friends, but when the day came, the trip ended up just being the two of them. They started dating shortly thereafter.

The pair wed when Goldschmidt was 31, and they had two children — a girl and a boy.

His daughter, Nina Gerhold, said most of her father’s work for RCA was classified, but in 1959, Goldschmidt brought the whole family with him when his work to him to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. She said her father was working on radar tracking systems for missile test shots that were coming from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

She was in fifth grade at the time and her brother was in second, but she remembers the experience fondly. There were no cars on the island so everyone biked. The family returned to Moorestown in 1972.

Goldschmidt worked as an electrical engineer at RCA from the mid 1950s to the early 1980s. He has five patents in his name from his years working at the company. He retired at the age of 57.

Gerhold said, growing up, her father was always the type to drop whatever he was doing if she needed help. She said he once came to help her when her car broke down in the middle of the night on her way back from college. She said he’s still actively involved in helping other veterans today.

“Like lots and lots of young men of his generation, he did something he had to do whether it was something he would have chosen or not,” Gerhold said.

She said her father wasn’t one for talking about his time in France while she was growing up, but in recent years, he’s taken an active role in veterans groups.

Every Friday, Goldschmidt meets with Vietnam veterans (he’s the only WWII veteran of the group), and he has plans to meet with a group of World War II veterans at VFW in Medford this September. He said he’s personally burning at least 20 more DVDs and bringing them with him to share.

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