J. Strip, 90, engineer who quizzed Germans

Joseph Strip
Joseph Strip
Posted: March 28, 2014

Joseph Strip's natural aptitude for the German language eventually took him to the interrogation rooms of World War II and the tense courtrooms of the Nuremberg Trials.

At 17, he was just trying to leave Europe for good.

Mr. Strip, 90, of Cherry Hill, died at Cooper University Hospital in Camden on Wednesday, March 26, after suffering a fall.

As German paratroopers cascaded from the skies, Mr. Strip and his family - his father, mother, and younger brother - boarded a truck and bolted their native Belgium. They spent a year in France before arriving in Newark, N.J.

Once he settled in, he sought out a New York City phone book in the hopes of finding an old friend from his time in Belgium: Eliane, whom he'd known since age 13. The pair married in 1949.

Upon graduating from high school, Mr. Strip enrolled in the Newark College of Engineering. Though he completed his degree, Mr. Strip was drafted into the U.S. Army before ever seeing a printed copy of his diploma. His brother picked it up in his absence.

Having known German since he was a child, Mr. Strip was immediately appointed to work as an interrogator of captured German soldiers.

"There was no waterboarding, no torture," said his wife. "They were very friendly with them." She said his main job as an interrogator was to determine the location of enemy soldiers.

After the war, the United States retained Mr. Strip's services as a translator during the Nuremberg Trials. During the proceedings, he took great pains to seek out the death notice of his uncle, who had been killed in the Dachau concentration camp.

"He made sure to find that death notice so that his aunt could get the benefits she needed," son David said.

"His partner wasn't very good at English, so he'd translate the German words into very basic English," he said. "My Dad would then translate the German-English into real English."

Upon returning from Europe, Mr. Strip settled into life as an engineer, working mainly as a systems engineer at the RCA laboratory in Moorestown - later bought by General Electric - from 1957 until his retirement in 1989.

In addition to his main work designing the Aegis missile system, he helped design the massive "golf ball" - a prototype ballistic-missile warning system in the shape of a giant white sphere - that stood outside the labs from 1960 to 1975. He had lived in Cherry Hill for the last 30 years.

As a father, he took care to make sure his three children traveled as often as possible, driving his family to national parks up and down the East Coast.

"He worked in New Mexico for six months in 1957," David Strip said. "He took us all around there, from Carlsbad to Mesa Verde. We even got to see the original Disneyland."

In his retirement, Mr. Strip worked as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels while writing about his time during the war. For his 90th birthday, his family compiled his writings into a collection, "Exodus 1940-1941."

"He was kind, considerate, generous, my teacher, and my very best friend," his wife said.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Strip is survived by daughter Lynn Bender and son Michael; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11:30 Thursday at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill. The funeral will begin promptly at noon, followed by interment at Locustwood Memorial Park, 1500 Route 70 West, Cherry Hill.

Donations in his name may be made to Temple Emanuel at templeemanuel.org, or to the Billy Loew Pantry Partner's Fund, 1301 Springdale Rd. Cherry Hill, N.J. 08003 or Hadassah at Stonebridge, 53 Cobblestone Blvd., Monroe Twp., N.J.


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