November 5, 2018


Since she was a little girl, Nicole Lehrman listened to her grandfather Gabriel DeLobbe tell story after story about his efforts to fight the Nazis in Belgium during the 1940s. The recent Ball State graduate brought his memories to life in the documentary “Saboteur.”

“He’s been telling stories of his time growing up in Belgium during the war for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never heard a full chronological account of what he experienced,” said Lehrman, who graduated in 2017. “I didn’t realize how amazing my grandfather’s story is. At just 14 years old, he was a saboteur in a war-ravaged nation.”

Now complete, the documentary will be broadcast at 11 p.m. Nov. 8 on WIPB-TV (49.1), and on Veterans Day through vimeo and the TCOM Facebook Page.

“Saboteur” features DeLobbe who sabotaged German forces who occupied Belgium in the Second World War. As a Belgian resistance fighter and then later as a soldier fighting with the American Army, DeLobbe marched through the Western theatre of the war. He helped liberate the Buchenwald Concentration Camp with the American Third Army and participated in many other strategic attacks against the Nazis.

After the war, DeLobbe immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Fort Wayne. Now 92, he shares his stories with family and friends, through numerous photos and medals that highlight his exploits.

As a Ball State student in Telecommunications, Lehrman took her grandfather’s stories and shared them with her classmates. Her peers were so enthralled with DeLobbe’s story that they decided to produce a documentary on his time in the Second World War. The film took two years to complete and is the result of several hundred hours of work.

“Even I was floored by how it all came together in one cohesive account,” Lehrman said. “It’s very fulfilling to think that others will watch this piece and take his story with them.”

The students didn’t create the documentary for a class. Rather, they saw it as their opportunity to bring the aging veteran’s stories to life, and also to wanted to educate future students from a soldier’s first-hand WWII perspective, said Chris Flook, Lecturer of Telecommunications who edited the project.

“Mr. DeLobbe’s ability to fight against aggression and maintain a sense of duty struck me as being commendable in every way,” Flook said. “Anyone who had gone through what he did and who played such an active part in the conflict possesses an extraordinary amount of wisdom.”

Lehrman said Ball State has proven itself as a University that empowers students through hands-on learning and unique opportunities to enhance skills — especially her own.

“I don’t know many other graduates who had the opportunities I had in school when it comes to this type of immersive learning. I added to history while pursuing my passion and preparing for the next step in my career.”