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

The Utah POW camp incident.

utah

During World War II, Utah was home to approximately 15,000 Italian and German prisoners of war that were distributed across a number of  camps. Camp Salina was a small, temporary branch camp to accommodate overflow prisoners in Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City. From 1944 to 1945 it was home to about 250 Germans, most of whom were from Erwin Rommel’s Afrika korps.

After 1944, with the rapid advance of Allied forces in Western Europe after D-Day the need for more space to house the influx of Axis P.O.W.s grew drastically.

The US  government crated  a program to use German and Italian POW’s for agricultural labor. Therefore,the government sent out prisoners to agricultural areas to work in the fields. Such was the case in Salina, where the prisoners helped to harvest produce, such as sugar beets, on the surrounding farms.

US Soldiers unfit for front line service, such as those with behavioral problems, were typically assigned to guard duty on the camp.

Private Clarence V. Bertucci from  New Orleans was one of those soldiers. While Bertucci had been overseas in England with an artillery unit, he had not seen front line action.

clarence

On the night of July 7, 1945, Bertucci was out drinking heavily.He stopped at a cafe on Main Street to have some coffee and told a waitress,  “something exciting is going to happen tonight”, before reporting for guard duty back at the camp.

Shortly after midnight, July 8, 1945, Bertucci  went to his midnight post, manning one of the watch towers that overlooked the camp. Once there, he loaded a 250 round belt of .30 caliber ammunition into a M1919 Browning machine gun and proceeded to fire into the tents housing the sleeping prisoners.

1919

The attack lasted about 15 seconds  , killing eight and mortally wounding a ninth, who died a few days later in the hospital, Bertucci also wounded twenty other German P.O.Ws. One of the prisoners was “nearly cut in half” by the machine gun fire. After arresting Private Bertucci, the military investigation judged him mentally incompetent and thus remitted him to a mental institution. He remained institutionalized until his death in 1969.

A July 23, 1945, article from Time stated,

“Ninth Service Command officers admitted that Bertucci’s record already showed two courts-martial, one in England. His own calm explanation seemed a little too simple: he had hated Germans, so he had killed Germans”

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