Hannes Richter

Masters in Command

Hannes Richter

Masters in Command
(1922 - 2005)

Peter Masters at the 60th Anniversary celebration of D-Day in Normandy, France

Peter Masters, a prominent television art director, graphic designer and author, died on March 21, 2005 at the age of eighty-three in Bethesda, Maryland.

Born Peter Arany in Vienna in 1922, he fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 for England. Like many other refugees, he was held briefly in a British internment camp as a "friendly enemy alien." At the age of 18, he volunteered for an elite Commando unit composed entirely of refugees from Nazi regimes in Austria, Hungary and Germany. All of them spoke fluent German. Most of them were Jewish and expertly trained in the tactics of the German Army. Assuming new Anglo identities with intricate cover stories to explain their heavily accented English, they were recruited for hazardous missions on the front lines. Peter Arany became Peter Masters.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Peter Masters landed on Sword Beach in Normandy with a folding bicycle on his back. He recalled his thoughts while waiting for the Allied invasion to begin: "I, who had been harassed by the Nazis, intimidated and targeted for extermination, would at long last have an opportunity to strike back." Striking Back would later become the title of his memoir, published by Presidio Press in 1998, chronicling the compelling story of 3 Troop, 10 Commando, his unit's action on the front lines in Normandy, and the personal risks taken in order to expose German positions to the advancing Allied Forces. With his memoir - which features a foreword by noted historian Stephen Ambrose - Masters sought to tell the story of Jewish resistance and to dispel the myth that Jews went like lambs to the slaughter.

After the war, Mr. Masters returned to England where he studied at the London Central School of Art and Design. He was among the first British students to earn a Fulbright Scholarship to the U.S, where he attended Parsons School of Design in New York and spent a summer at Yale University. After settling in Washington, D.C. in 1950, Masters became art director of channel WTOP-TV, the CBS-affiliate in Washington, D.C.

He designed sets for Face the Nation, The Jimmy Dean Show, Dinner With The President (a live broadcast featuring President Kennedy), and many other productions. During Lyndon Johnson's presidency, under special direction of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Masters designed an exhibit at the Smithsonian, Profiles of Poverty. In support of the Johnson Administration's anti-poverty efforts, he created logos for Head Start, Vista, Job Corps, and other federal programs. The signage he designed for federal buildings on the mall in Washington still stands to this day.

After his retirement in 1984, Peter Masters dedicated much time and energy to keeping alive the legacy of his wartime experiences and began work on his memoir. Following its publication, his talents as a public speaker won him nationwide acclaim. He inspired many young people with his commitment to fight for the just cause of human rights, and to advance liberty and freedom in the world.

Peter Masters is survived by his wife of fifty-five years, Alice, an IMF retiree, by three children and seven grandchildren.

His memoirs, Striking Back. A Jewish Commando's War Against the Nazis (published by Presidio Press in 1998), can be purchased via email. Please contact: strikingback@comcast.net

The German translation - Kommando der Verfolgten: 87 Elitesoldaten im Kampf gegen Hitler - was published by Schneekluth in 1999.