And the memory remained.

All of those men who liberated the camps throughout Europe, never lost the memories of what they witnessed. Below are just some of their accouns.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945. Hilbert Margol(pictured above}and his twin brother Howard. 2 Jewish American soldiers were there and documented the tragedy.

Hilbert and Howard came across the so-called “death train” at Dachau. This is his recollection.

“So we get orders to pull off to the right side of the road. We all smelled this very distinct odor, very strong odor. One of our jeep drivers came by and he said, ‘On the other side of those woods, it must be a chemical factory over there.’ Well, Howard heard that and he came over to me, and he said, “I don’t think it’s a chemical factory.” And he said, you know, that odor reminded him of when our mother used to go to the kosher meat market to buy a freshly killed chicken. She would take it home, hold it over the gas flame of the gas stove in the kitchen to burn off the pin feathers. It would burn the skin and some of the fat of the chicken. He said that’s the odor it reminds him of. I said, “Well, why don’t we go over there and see what is over there.” We were curious. The first thing we saw, we saw a line of railroad boxcars. Now we climbed over between two of the railroad cars and on the other side, some of the cars’ sliding doors had been opened by the infantry guys in front of us. That’s who we supported. And on that boxcar plus others on that train was [sic] dead bodies and most of them were in very grotesque positions. And, of course, it was easy to see they were all dead. US Army Infantryman Private Hilbert Margol 42nd Infantry Division 508.784.1945 Testimony 1”

A young African American GI, Leon Bass, entered the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp and saw piles of dead bodies and prisoners so weakened that large numbers of them would die in the days and weeks following the liberation. This encounter was seared into his memory.

Leon Bass entered the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany as part of an intelligence reconnaissance unit. This is his recollection.

“We were in the intelligence reconnaissance section of our unit and we went right to Buchenwald. And that was the day that I was to discover what had really been going on in Europe under the Nazis because I walked through the gates and I saw walking dead people. And just looking at these people who were skin and bone and dressed in those pajama-type uniforms, their heads clean shaved, and filled with sores through the malnutrition. I just looked at this in amazement and I said to myself, you know, “My God, who are these people? What was their crime?” You know? It’s hard for me to try to understand why anyone could have been treated this way. I don’t care what they had done. And I didn’t have any way of thinking or putting a handle on it, no frame of reference. I was only 20. Had I been told, I doubt if I could have had, in my mind’s eye, envisioned anything as horrible as what I saw. Reconnaissance Sergeant Leon Bass 183rd Combat Engineer Battalion 508.784.1945”

During the winter of 1944-45, Anthony Acevedo was a 20-year-old Army medic assisting wounded soldiers fighting against Nazi forces in World War II. The war in Europe was coming to an end, but for Mr. Acevedo the horror was just beginning.

On April 9, 1945, German camp guards forcibly evacuated US Army medic Anthony Acevedo and other prisoners of war in the Berga concentration camp. After marching for 15 days, Acevedo and his fellow
prisoners were liberated by the 11th Armored Division. This is his recollection.


“So, we heard that there were tanks approaching, and we don’t—we didn’t know whether they were Americans, or French, or English, whatever. Or Russians. But the Germans started to feel the—the heat, and so they wanted us to follow them. And so they push—they pulled the—the rifles against us, and
pointed at us, and says, w-we—either we go, or—with them, or they’ll shoot us. That’s what they wanted to do.
So, as I yelled back at them, and the other medic, I mean, we’re medics, and we’re t-taking care of these men, and they’re dying. One just died—or two just died just a—a while ago. So, how can we go, and—they can’t walk any more.
So, before you knew it, they too escaped, and the guards turn in our—gave us our rifles. And he says, we’ll stay with you. And we started to hear the rumbling getting closer, and th—we—we all started to run towards the highway, and when we got to the highway, the tanks were the 11th armored division, liberating us.”

sources

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1173019

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/anthony-acevedo-us-army-medic-who-endured-prison-camp-horrors-in-wwii-dies-at-93/2018/03/10/ac2273f0-23e2-11e8-86f6-54bfff693d2b_story.html

May 2nd Dachau Death March.

On the 2nd of May a unit from the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, US Army, encountered Jewish inmates  who were put on a death march from Dachau and were approaching Waakirchen. The US soldiers were almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei)

During these marches, also called the “death marches”, at least one thousand prisoners died. They died of disease, undernourishment, and exhaustion. If a prisoner collapsed or, fully exhausted, simply could not continue, they were beaten or shot to death by SS guards. The route of the marches passed through numerous villages and small towns. Scores of residents witnessed the brutal marches.

Women prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp on an “death march” in Percha, Lake Starnberg, April 28 1945 (Municipal archives Landsberg am Lech)

By the second of May 1945, only some of the 6,000 prisoners sent on the death march were still alive; thosewhose heatlth failed them or were unable to continue had been shot as they fell. On that day, as the eastwards-marching prisoners had passed through Bad Tölz and were nearing Waakirchen, nearly sixty kilometers (37 miles) south of Dachau, several hundred of the dead and dying were lying on open ground, nearly all covered in freshly fallen snow.

They were spotted by advance scouts of the U.S. Army’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, the only segregated Japanese American-manned military unit in Germany at the time. Only days earlier, they had liberated the Kaufering IV Hurlach satellite slave labor camp of the Dachau main camp’s “system”.

Finishing up with the words of one of the survivors.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp
Due to my resistance activities, I was imprisoned in Scheveningen, Vught, Ravensbrück and Dachau. We were liberated by the Americans.

I owe my life to my friends, who dragged me along with them when I passed out and kept me warm when I was in bad shape in the camp.

Because of the war, it became clear to me what freedom of expression, the danger of dictatorship and declaring human beings to be inferior mean. This is why I contributed to a report of my experiences of the war, because I think it is important that the youth also realize this.

My oldest son Robert had prepared himself to go to the commemoration in Dachau in my name. Unfortunately I can not go there myself anymore due to my health, as I am now 101 years old.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp wrote this message 2 years ago

sources

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/522nd_Field_Artillery_Battalion/#

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/?f%5Bspecial_collection%5D%5B%5D=The%20Jeff%20and%20Toby%20Herr%20Oral%20History%20Archive

January 17,1945 evacuation Auschwitz.

There are so few things that make sense in relation to the Holocaust, in fact there is nothing that make sense.

On January 17,1945

In mid-January 1945,the SS began evacuating Auschwitz and its subcamps. SS units forced nearly 60,000 prisoners to march west from the Auschwitz camp system. This murderous evacuation, known as the “Death March,” cost many of them their lives.

Thousands had been killed in the camps in the days before these death marches began. Tens of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were forced to march either northwest for 55 kilometers (approximately 30 miles) to Gliwice (Gleiwitz), joined by prisoners from subcamps in East Upper Silesia, or due west for 63 kilometers (approximately 35 miles) to Wodzislaw (Loslau) in the western part of Upper Silesia, joined by inmates from the subcamps to the south of Auschwitz. SS guards shot anyone who fell behind or could not continue. Prisoners also suffered from the cold weather, starvation, and exposure on these marches. At least 3,000 prisoners died on route to Gliwice alone; possibly as many as 15,000 prisoners died during the evacuation marches from Auschwitz and the subcamps.

When you analyze this in a clinical way, the whole operation makes no sense. It is senseless from a military point of view, because they knew the Soviets were approaching, so why waste resources. Why not just leave them all in the camps and leave the Soviets deal with the prisoners, which would have delayed them.

It makes no sense on a human level either, purely because nothing made sense on a human level when it comes to the Holocaust.

Similar marches were taking place all across the eastern front after the SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered that all able-bodied prisoners be taken to the Reich. But these able bodied prisoners would have been so weakened already, and even more so after the marches.

Although death might not have been the goal of the marches, that was however the fate of many, as the scattered gravestones that remain along these roads today still testify.

One of the survivors, Zofia Posmysz, recalled her inmate number: 7566. she remembered the biting cold on the night the guards gathered thousands of women outside the gates of Birkenau.

“We didn’t know what it meant that we would leave the camp,” she said. “We didn’t know if we would have to undergo some sort of selection”.

“We heard that those who could not walk would get to stay in the hospital, but we weren’t sure if they would be kept alive. We knew nothing and worried.”

Aside from the bitter cold and the physical violence, the victims were subjected to mental torture because they didn’t know what fate awaited them .

The march lasted until January 21,1945. Six days later, January 27,1945. Auschwitz was liberated.

Sources

https://www.niod.nl/en/collections/image-bank-ww2

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/death-march-from-auschwitz

http://www.auschwitz.org/en/history/evacuation/in-the-wake-of-death-march/

http://www.auschwitz.org/en/history/evacuation/in-the-wake-of-death-march/

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The teenager Meyer Abramczyk

Meyer A

Usually when I write a blog which contains the word ‘teenager’ it refers to somene who was murdered during the Holocaust.,Meyer Abramczyk wasn’t. In fact he sadly passed away when he was aged 87.

Metaphorically speaking the teenager Meyer was killed during the Holocaust. He was born on July 24, 1926 in Belchatow, Poland. His parents were Herschel and Toba Abramczyk. He had six brothers and sisters: Zelda, Hinda, Moshe, Jankiel, Channah, and Paula. At that time.

Meyer was age 13 when the Nazis invaded Poland.  During the 1st week of the war ,Belchatow, was designated a Jewish town. The Abramczyk family tried to flee but soon discovered this was virtually impossible. They were stopped by the SS on the way and were harassed by them. In 1940 Meyer was send to a work camp in Poznan. He was still only 13 at the time.

Age 13 his first year as a teenager. The teenage years are  some of the most important years of a young man’s life. They are the years that transform you from a child into a man. In any normal circumstance a teenager will have his parents and maybe even older siblings around him for support  . It is this support that is needed to cope with all the physical,mental and hormonal changes that happen in those years and the anxiety that goes with that.

For Meyer this support was  taken away. He was left to cope on his own under the most brutal circumstances one could imagine. It later emerged that this support was killed,As were Meyer’s teenage years, they were killed too. A time where he should be playing, exploring ,discovering and enjoying life as much as he could, but that time was taken away from him. He never got to be that teenager. His aim was now survival, and he may not even have  known it at the time that would become his goal, but he did survive and left a legacy and testimony.

Meyer spent of all his teenage years fearing for his life, not knowing what happened to his family.

Meyer’s story as a teenager is remarkable in more then one way. He survived several concentration camps, the last one being Auschwitz Birkenau. He also survived the Auschwitz death march and the sinking of the The Cap Arcona. The ship bombed by the allies, Of the estimated 5,000(some sources put that number higher)  concentration camps inmates  on board only 250 survived, the then still 18 tear old Meyer was one of them.

cap

For years after the war he searched for his family he eventually found out  they were all murdered.

There is a quote by George Herbert , it says ” Living well is the best revenge.” and Meyer certainly did that. He did move to Canada in 1956 and settled in Toronto . Where he married and had 3 children and 6 grandchildren.He worked as a butcher for 60 years and retired at the age of 80. One of his children is Toba, who I consider a friend, She once wrote a piece about her father called “Meyer Abramczyk-Our Hero” for the KehilaLinks Home Page for Belchatow. I do agree Meyer (aka Majer) was a Hero and an example for many generations to come.

Finishing this blog with a picture of Meyer and 3 Belchatow Survivors
in Föhrenwald Displaced Persons Camp, Germany, 1946.

DP

Thank you Toba Abramczyk for allowing me to write about your dad.

Sources

http://liebowitzes.com/belchatow/fohrenwald.htm

https://www.cambridgescholars.com/the-literary-representation-of-world-war-ii-childhood

 

 

Death march Buchenwald

2020-02-28

One of the things I could never understand was the death marches. The most of them happened near the end of the war. Even from a strategically point of view they made no sense. Then again a lot of actions taken by the Nazis didn’t make a lot of sense. So may of their policies and strategies were fueled by hate.

The Buchenwald Death March took place between April 7th and 10, 1945. It was a match of about 300km. 28,500 to 30,000 inmates were marched to 3 other camps. Dachau,Flossenbürg, and Theresienstadt. on a route via Jena, Eisenberg, Bad Köstritz, and Gera.

Of the 28,500-30,000 inmates approximately 9,000 died.

I just can’t imagine the fear and the  anxiety they must have felt. Those who fell down were either shot or left to die. Most of these people were weakened because of the  horrific treatment they got in the Buchenwald. Those who dies were walked to death, just sit back for a minute and imagine that.

The remaining 21,000 inmates who were left behind in Buchenwald were liberated on April 11,1945.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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soutces

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/death-marches-1

NIOD