Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today's Trivia - Dr. Ruth: Sex Therapist And Lethal Sniper

Many of you are probably familiar with Ruth Westheimer who is best known as Dr. Ruth; an American sex therapist, media personality and author. She became somewhat of a cultural icon in the 80s and encouraged freer, franker talk about sex on radio and television.

But I bet you’d never suspect that this tiny woman with a grandmotherly appearance trained in her youth as a sniper.

Born in Germany as Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1928, she was the only child of Julius Siegel and Irma Siegel. In January 1939, her mother sent her to the safety of a school in Switzerland after her father had been taken by the Nazis. The school eventually evolved into an orphanage for many of the German Jewish students trying to escape the Holocaust. In 1945, Ruth learned that her parents had been killed in the Holocaust, possibly at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

When she was 16, she immigrated to the Mandate of Palestine where she joined the Haganah, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces. She trained for the Israeli army, and served as a lookout and sniper.

Says Dr. Ruth of that period:

"When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe. Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded."

Her military career was cut short when she was seriously injured. In 1950, Ruth moved to France where she studied and then taught psychology at the University of Paris. She immigrated to the United States in 1956, settling in Washington Heights, Manhattan. She obtained a Master's degree in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Education from Columbia University. A job with Planned Parenthood spurred her to study human sexuality.


  1. Talk about hidden talents....you wouldn't think it to look at her!

    1. No, not at all. Everyone has a story to tell that we don't know about!

  2. It is so hard to imagine what she must have gone through. Just finished a book called mania's memories about a Jewish woman who was a child at Auschwitz, lost both parents and was kept alive by the kindness (?) of a female SS guard.

    1. Her start in life was quite tragic. I can't even fathom what it's like to have lost family that way. That book sounds very interesting. I will have to check it out.