Joseph Liebgott

Joseph "Joe" Liebgott (1915-1992) fought in World War II as part of Company E ("Easy Company") of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. 101st Airborne Division. He was portrayed in the television miniseries Band of Brothers by actor Ross McCall.


Before the War

Before Liebgott enrolled as a Paratrooper, he worked as Barber in Oakland, California. However, he was never a San Francisco resident as stated in the miniseries Band of Brothers.

During the War

Liebgott participated in all the major battles conducted by Easy Company. His most notable role was as a translator as he could speak fluent German. When Easy Company discovered the Landsberg concentration camp, he acted as translator for Major Dick Winters. He then had to perform the a heartbreaking task of informing the prisoners to return to the camp so they could be medically evaluated.
In the German version of the miniseries, his translation is changed. As it would not make sense to have an interpreter stand by when everyone speaks German, he makes side remarks on the information given by the freed prisoners.
In a later scene, he is incorrectly portrayed as he observes a dismissal speech of a German commander to his troops in the German version. Instead of translating the speech, he is issuing comments about his opponents that in the context do not reflect his views as portrayed in the original language version.

After the War

Liebgott survived the war and returned to Oakland to and resumed his job as a barber. It is inaccurately stated in the Band of Brothers miniseries that he lived in San Francisco and started a career as a cab driver. Liebgott never attended any of the Easy Company reunions and it is rumoured the War caused him to suffer from a mental breakdown. He died in 1992.

While Liebgott is said to be Jewish in both the book and the mini-series, there has been much confusion over this point now that his family has been found and contacted. They were raised Catholic, were told their father had been, and his dogtags were stamped Catholic (though apparently many Jewish soldiers had their religion falsified on their dog tags). However, all the men he served with are certain he was Jewish. There has been some speculation about whether he converted, though Joe's children say both of his parents were Catholic as well. The question remains as to why he seemingly told everyone he served with he was Jewish when family fact seems to show that he was not, though a fan's investigation into his ancestry reveals that his mother's maiden name was Zimmerman, which is often a Jewish name. It may be that his mother was born Jewish but that Joe was raised Catholic. This is still an issue that needs more investigation.

No one seems to be entirely sure of what went on for him post-war, as he disappeared until 1948. His parents apparently did not even know that he had returned safely from the war, as they apparently wrote in a letter to a fellow soldier who had written asking after him in 1946 or 1947. It seems likely that he suffered from PTSD.

Joe went on to have eight children after he resurfaced and has one granddaughter serving in the U.S. Navy.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.