Ruth Karola Westheimer

portrait of Ruth Westheimer
60th Anniversary celebration of Israel, Apollo Theater, Harlem, New York. Photo by David Shankbone (May 2008)

Born: 4 June 1928, Wiesenfeld, Germany (now part of Karlstadt)

Born Karola Ruth Siegel into a family of Orthodox Jews, the family had decided to flee Germany but her grandmother refused to leave her home. After Krystalnacht her father was arrested and she was sent to a Swiss school. Letters from her mother soon stopped, it is believed that her family was sent to Auschwitz. After the war she went to Palestine, joining Haganah to fight for a Jewish state. The army decided that her 4' 7" frame was ideal for concealment, then discovered she had an uncanny aim with a rifle and she served as a scout and sniper. On her 20th birthday a shell landed near her and badly hurt both legs, she spent the rest of the war in hospital. In 1950 she moved to Paris, first studying and then teaching psychiatry at the University of Paris. In 1956 she moved to the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, earned a master's degree in sociology from The New School and an Ed. D. from Columbia, later doing post-doctoral work in human sexuality at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. In 1980 a struggling radio station, WYNY, offered her fifteen minutes to talk about sex on the air starting at midnight Sundays. At first the questions were mailed in and the show, Sexually Speaking, was taped in advance; the show was expanded to an hour with delayed phone calls within two months, in a year her audience exceeded that of many morning "drive time" shows. She was a popular guest on Late Night with David Letterman and her radio program was syndicated nationally.

Biography from Wikipedia and her own website

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