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Michael Dorn

The youngest of eight children, Michel Lechnya Dorn was to celebrate his seventh birthday on September 1st, 1939 in Wielun, Poland, when, at 04:40 a.m., the Luftwaffe attacked. The brutal aerial assault destroyed 75% of the city and killed close to 1,200 people, most of them civilians. This aggression effectively started World War II and forever led Dorn to hate his birthday and angrily spurn any celebration of it.

As Polish Jews, Dorn’s father realized they must flee and the family was one of the first refugees flooding into France. Unfortunately, the family, farmers by trade, settled in the tiny village of Stonne, which was among the first areas attacked by German forces in their conquest of France. Consisting of a few tiny farms and support businesses, Stonne was heavily contested during the German invasion. The village changed hands 17 times over the course of three days in May, 1940, finally succumbing to the Nazis on the 17th.

Despite having hidden during the hostilities and remaining ‘neutral’ (Dorn’s father believed passivity was their salvation), the Dorn family was among the Stonne residents the angry Nazi troopers decided to make examples of. As Dorn watched, every member of the family above the age of ten, was executed. Dorn himself, with his nine-year-old sister, was made a gopher for the Nazi troops, spending the next eight months serving the very men who slaughtered his family. When drunken soldiers came one night for his sister, Dorn used a secreted German bayonet to kill two of the attackers and they fled into the French countryside.

After spending nearly a month on the run, Dorn and his sister were discovered by French resistance members and spent the rest of the war working with them to undermine the Nazis. Dorn became a gifted soldier in his own right, having learned early that inaction is never a way to battle evil. When the war ended, Dorn joined the International Criminal Court and has spent his entire adult life in pursuit of war criminals.

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