Baum, Abraham “Abe” Jasper.

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Baum, Abraham “Abe” Jasper, born 29-03-1921 in Bronx, Bronx, New York, United States, the son of Harry Baum and Etta, born Hirschhorn and brother of Bernard Baum, [private sister (1920s – unknown)] and Morton Baum. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant and his mother was an American of Romanian descent. He left school and became a pattern maker for women’s apparel. When he enlisted in the Army, he was sent to Engineer basic training. He transferred to the 2nd Armored Division ,17th Engineer Battalion . He recalls the physical training they went through, which included boxing. He knocked out a Sergeant. He was asked to represent the battalion in boxing and he refused. The sergeant refused to let him go to OCS, the Officer Candidates School], but the Majors he met with sent him anyway. When Pearl Harbor occured, he immediately went to his father. He told his father he wanted to enlist and he gave him his blessing. He had an older brother who joined the Army after him. Baum wanted to join the Air Force, but he had low blood pressure and vision problems. He was not that disappointed. He just wanted to serve. He didn’t follow the war before Pearl Harbor. Baum applied for OCS because he did not want to work with the men in the Battalion. He made it through OCS with the help of another student. When he went to OCS, they sent him to the 4th Armored Division. under Commanding General, Brigadier General Henry Welles Baird. He had many problems with the Captain he shared a tent with because he treated the soldiers of Italian descent very poorly, the Captain’s brother was killed in Italy. Baum said something to him about it. He challenged the Captain, but the man did nothing. Baum was transferred to another Company, which made him very happy.

He commanded the famed task force (that bears his name) sent by General George Patton to liberate the POWs at Stalag 13, special his caputered son in law in Hammelburg, and was also part of the Fourth Armored Division unit that liberated the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp. Baum was given the task of penetrating 50 miles (80 km) behind German lines and liberating the POWs in camp OFLAG XIII-B, near Hammelburg. Controversy surrounds the true reasons behind the mission, which most likely was to liberate Patton’s wounded son-in-law, John K. Waters, taken captive in Tunisia in 1943, by Erwin Rommel‘s Africa Corps. The result of the mission was a complete failure; of the roughly 300 men of the task force, 32 were killed in action during the raid and only 35 made it back to Allied-controlled territory, with the remainder being taken prisoner. All of the 57 tanks, jeeps, and other vehicles were lost.

The original plan was to carry out the attack on the POW camp with a force of 4,000 men and 150 vehicles. However, Patton ordered that the assault force should consist of only a small number of vehicles. On 26-03-1945, around midnight, 57 vehicles, including 10 M4 Sherman tanks, 3 mobile guns and 28 half-tracks and 314 infantrymen launched the “diversion attack”. The attack was led by Captain Abraham (Abe) Baum, who had no experience conducting such an operation. Surprised when Patton personally gave him his orders for the raid to Hammelburg, he later remarked: “I thought, what the hell am I doing here?” Moreover, the preparation time for the attack had been very short and the force had very little fuel at its disposal. She was also unable to rely on air support.

The unit advanced under heavy casualties. While attempting to cross the River Saale near the town of Gemünden, the unit lost three tanks. When the bridge was blown up, the unit had to withdraw. The attacking force managed to cross the river via a bridge near Burgsinn to the north. In the hills around Hammelburg the unit came under fire from Panzerjägerabteilung 251 led by Heinrich Köhl. This attack was repulsed, but the force lost 5 half-tracks and 3 jeeps. In the afternoon of March 27, the severely depleted unit reached the camp in Hammelburg. The men soon found out that the number of prisoners was much greater than they had anticipated. Also, John Waters, Patton’s son-in-law, who was the target of the attack, could not be transported because he was badly injured.

In the evening of the 27-03-1945 the Task Force, with about 200 freed POWs, started the retreat to the American lines. The unit faced heavy German resistance. The unit reached a hill code-named Hill 427. Some of the liberated POWs decided to return to the camp, because they hindered the unit too much in its freedom of movement. At night the unit was surrounded by troops from the garrison of Hammelburg led by Oberst Richard Hoppe. The Task Force attempted to break out on the morning of March 28, but German resistance was too strong. By 09:00, all of the unit’s vehicles had been destroyed. Baum ordered the remaining men to scatter and try to reach the American lines alone or in small groups. Only 20 people, 15 members of Task Force Baum and 5 freed prisoners of war, succeeded. The camp in Hammelburg was liberated ten days later on 06-04-1945. Most of the prisoners had been evacuated by the Germans. A number of seriously injured, including Waters and Baum, were left behind in the camp. Hauptmann Walter Eggemann, awarded with the Ritterkreuz, was in Wurzburg at the local Party District Headquarters. When he received the message about Task Force Baum. he contacted the 7th Army Headquarters at Heigenbrucken to resume command of all forces at Hammelburg to destroy the Task Force.

Baum was liberated from a POW camp on 05-04-1945, 10 days after the mission. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 10-04-1945..

Returning to civilian life after the war, he remained inexorably connected to his military family by working with veterans’ organizations wherever he lived. He founded the Rancho Bernardo Veteran’s Memorial, and was instrumental in starting a program that sent veterans from all military conflicts to middle and high schools to share their wartime experiences with the students. He was also actively involved in supporting the 1947 war for Israeli independence, and provided counsel to Moshe Dayan,  Teddy Kollek, and other Haganah leadership.

Death and burial ground of Baum, Abraham “Abe” Jasper.

Baum, Abraham “Abe” Jasper died old age 91, on 03-03-2013, at his home in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego County, California, USA.. Abe is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 54, grave 1, Arlington County, Virginia, VS,

Abe is survived by Eileen, his loving wife of more than sixty-three years; his children David (Nancy), Barbara (Les) Zoltan, Susan (Howard) Locker, and Eric (Jodi); his sister Miriam Cohen and brother Morton; and, many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grand- nieces, and grand- nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Harry and Etta, and his older brother Bernard. A former Prisoner of War,

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