December 21, 2016 – We’re uploading our Monday, December 26, 2016, episode a little bit ahead of schedule — call it an early Christmas gift. Our guest is Peter Lion, who brings us The American St. Nick: A True Story. It’s the unique tail of a World War Two G.I., who ended up playing a big role in tiny Luxembourg. In the lull between the Nazi withdrawal and the Battle of the Bulge, Corporal Richard Brookins helped bring to life the idea of his Jewish comrade, Harry Stutz. Cpl. Stutz learned that St. Nicholas Day had been banned during the occupation as un-German, meaning many children of Wiltz had never experienced it. His inspiration grew into a parade like no other, with Cpl. Brookins in the back of a Jeep, leading the procession through town.
Brookins hardly thought about his role as the war dragged on, but the people of Wiltz never forgot, even after their city was destroyed and many of the children killed in Hitler’s doomed counter-offensive. The American St. Nick tells the story of how Wiltz tracked down Brookins years later, and informed him that he’d become a legend. At 93-years-old earlier this year, Luxembourg gave him their highest honor, and in the mean time he’d been back to perform his role several times — and when he’s not there, someone from Wiltz is given the honor of filling in. Not just as St. Nick. But as the American St. Nick.
You can catch the PBS documentary on this true tale of Christmas cheer, all through the month of December. It’s produced by The World War II Foundation, also under the name The American St. Nick. You can learn more at AmericanStNick.com or by following Peter on Twitter @AmericanStNick.