U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Lloyd Lider received an unwelcome dose of advice in April 1946 when he consulted his regiment chaplain about marrying a vivacious, blonde, Polish dancer whom he had met while transporting journalists back and forth from the Nuremberg Trials.

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Lloyd Lider received an unwelcome dose of advice in April 1946 when he consulted his regiment chaplain about marrying a vivacious, blonde, Polish dancer whom he had met while transporting journalists back and forth from the Nuremberg Trials.

"He told me, 'It won't work because she just got out of a concentration camp,' " says 88-year-old Lider, of Medford, during his friends' anniversary party at Rogue Valley Manor. " 'Forget it. Go home.' "

The petite Polish dancer he was warned to forget is swaying to Big Band music in her blue and silver crocheted dress as Lider looks at her with pride. His strong, upright posture, hinting of his past in the military, seems to grow even taller as he begins to reveal the astonishing story that brought the couple together.

"I still love to dance," says Isabella Lider, Lloyd's wife of 63 years.

Lloyd and Isabella's unlikely romance is a happy footnote to major moments in history and twists of fate neither of them can explain.

Isabella's passion for dance played an indirect role in the sequence of events that led to her internment in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in July 1942.

She had been on vacation with her stepfather and mother but decided to return home a day earlier than her parents so that she wouldn't miss a dance class the next morning.

She never made it to the dance class.

In the middle of the night, the Gestapo came to the family home searching for Isabella's stepfather and mother, who were active in the Polish underground. The Gestapo arrested Isabella, her grandmother, uncle, aunt and two male cousins, ages 17 and 19.

"It was very, very frightening because they beat up my uncle," Isabella recounts. "He was bleeding all over. His mother fainted, and they wouldn't let us help her at all." Her usually cheerful demeanor wanes for a moment as she describes the scene.

When Isabella's parents were notified by the Polish underground that the family had been arrested, they changed their appearance and went into hiding. The rest of the family was taken to the Paviak political prison in Warsaw before being transported to Auschwitz. All three adults died within two weeks of their arrival at the concentration camp. It's unclear how they died, Isabella says. Of the family members arrested that day, only Isabella and her cousins survived until the end of the war.

At Auschwitz, the numbers 2-4-4-73 were tattooed on her arm. During the day, she was forced to dig peat out of a swamp.

As she sits on the sofa at the couple's home a few days after the anniversary party at the manor, she holds out her arm to show the scar that was left behind when she had the numbers removed.

She was released from Auschwitz in July 1943 at age 18 after her natural father secured her release through a friend, a high-ranking officer in the German army.

She was relocated to the village of Blaubeuren, where she did slave labor sewing German uniforms in a factory, a job she did until Allied troops liberated the village in 1945.

While Isabella was toiling in Blaubeuren, Lloyd had arrived in Europe with the 130th Infantry Division in Marseille, France, in 1944. If the war with Japan hadn't ended with the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Lloyd says, he would have been sent to fight on that front.

Instead, he was stationed in Nuremberg with the U.S. Army First Infantry Division in late 1945.

When he thinks back on it, he says, he realizes that he never would have met Isabella had history not played out that way.

Isabella's stepfather, a correspondent with a Polish newspaper, was reporting on the trials of 22 Nazi defendants. Lloyd often drove the Polish journalist back and forth to the trials from Stein Castle, where the correspondents lodged.

By then, Isabella, a modern interpretive dancer, had been recruited into the International Service to perform for the Allied troops. Isabella's stepfather introduced her to Lloyd in December 1945 when the young dancer went to visit her parents.

Lloyd says he knew he was in love with Isabella "about 30 minutes after I met her."

"The bells ring," he adds.

Isabella's perspective was a bit more detached, at first.

"I thought he was a very nice person and would try to get to know him."

On one of their first "dates," Isabella says with a chuckle, "I will never forget at the castle we had a glass of sherry. That was the most horrible thing."

"Then, I had to teach her how to like a good California sherry," Lloyd quips.

Now a glass of sherry or wine before or during dinner is a nightly custom for the couple.

The Liders were married April 9, 1946 in the castle in Stein, Germany, a suburb of Nuremberg.

"That was after the war, so things moved fast," Lloyd says.

As Lloyd relaxes at their peaceful cottage surrounded by flowers and greenery on the manor campus, Isabella glides around the living room pulling out photo albums and showing off framed family photographs and stained glass pieces she's made over the decades.

Photos of their wedding at the castle have a fairy-tale quality: They gaze into each other's eyes smiling, Lloyd dressed in his uniform and Isabella in her white wedding dress.

Dressed in a bright, floral dress, Isabella's eyes still glow just as they did as a bride, and her face wears the same smile.

"This is my life," she says proudly, as she flips through albums.

The couple honeymooned in Germany, visiting such sites as Hitler's so-called Eagle's Nest, a getaway in the Bavarian Alps where Hitler's girlfriend, Eva Braun, used to sojourn with her friends.

At the time, Lloyd was on the cusp of being discharged from the army. A month after their marriage, Isabella joined 290 other war brides on the S.S. Brazil for a trip to the United States. Lloyd returned home on a victory ship with other troops.

Before departing, Stars & Stripes interviewed her for an article.

"Now, although I can't believe it, I will be in the U.S., and all the memories of the past years will be behind me," she was quoted as saying before the departure.

The couple met fortuitously during their separate voyages when their ships anchored at the same time in Le Havre, France. It was a challenge to gain admission into the ladies' section of port, Lloyd says. But he finally got in, and they spent a day together.

Back home in Davis, Calif., Lloyd obtained his doctoral degree and began teaching viniculture at the University of California.

Isabella gave dance lessons.

The couple had two children — Alice in 1947 and Edward in 1949.

After retiring from the university in 1964, Lloyd did vineyard management, consulting for the International Service Corps. During that time, he and Isabella traveled the world, visiting countries from Chile to Egypt to New Zealand.

"Wherever I went, she came along," Lloyd says.

The secret to a long, happy marriage, Lloyd says, is to "marry the right person." How do you know when you have found the right person? He makes an expression as if the answer is obvious.

"You know," he says.

On their 50th wedding anniversary, they contacted the Catholic church to try to locate the chaplain who speculated doom for their marriage, but they couldn't learn any information about his whereabouts.

"We wanted to tell him he was wrong," Lloyd says.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.