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 accounts.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945. Hilbert Margol (pictured above) and his twin brother, Howard. Two 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 odour, a very strong odour. 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 odour 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 and 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 odour 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 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 pyjama-type uniforms, their heads clean-shaven, and filled with sores through 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 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 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 anymore.
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 then—we—we all started to run towards the highway, and when we got to the highway, the tanks were the 11th armoured 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

Primum non Nocere-First do no harm.

HippocraticOath

First do no harm is  a misquoted line from the Hippocratic oath, but it has been adopted as part of it.The actual translation is “I will utterly reject harm and mischief” however the message is the same.

A great number of Physicians of the Nazi regime did not adhere to the oath. They took the opportunity to do a lot of harm in order to conduct their own experiments.

But some Nazi Doctors did stick to the oath with the aim to heal rather then to harm, and even defy the Nazi regime’s regulations.

US Army Pvt. Bob Levine arrived in England a few days before the Allied forces were to land on Normandy.

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He actively took part in the D-Day invasion and his 81-mm mortar crew was right behind the 90th Infantry when the actual invasion took place. The Allied forces met with fierce German opposition, and the intense fighting lasted weeks. In one such encounter, Levine was hit by a grenade that landed very close to him; his right leg was severely damaged in the explosion. He was captured by German forces, along with many other US soldiers. On his way to the POW camp, they were hit by a mortar shell fired by the US Army, which landed very close to POW killing scores of soldiers. Although Bob survived the explosion, his leg took more blows and he became even weaker and lost more blood.

Next thing Levine remembers was a Nazi doctor’s face, inspecting his wounds and reading his dog tag.

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Levine said that when this doctor read his dog tag and uttered the words ‘Was ist H?’ he knew then that he would definitely be executed. At that time, every American soldier had a religious designation marked on the dog tag, C for Catholic, P for Protestant and H for Hebrew. He was badly wounded, and was at the mercy of a Nazi doctor, in Nazi-controlled territory, and on top of all that, he was Jewish, Levine called this a recipe for disaster.

The Nazi doctor who treated Levine was Dr Edgar Woll.

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When Levine woke up after some time of unconsciousness, he found out that his leg had been amputated, and that the Nazi doctor was gone. His dog tag was missing and there was a note tucked into his pocket. The doctor had written a note on back of a Nazi propaganda card bearing quotes of the Fuehrer. Levine could not understand it, as it was written in German.

The+Nazi+Doctor+who+Saved+a+Jewish+GI1

The soldier couldn’t understand a word, but he clung to the card for months, hanging onto it while still a POW, after he was rescued by Allied troops and on the ship taking him back to the United States

Once translated, Levine found the note explained exactly why the doctor opted for amputation and detailed his post-surgical treatment:

“Crushed right foot. Fracture of lower leg. Foreign body in upper right leg’s tissue. Opening of the ankle joint. Amputation at place of fracture. Bandage with sulfa. Vaccinated against gas gangrene.”

After this, Levine was transferred to a POW camp, where he stayed until US soldiers liberated them and he was sent home.

The Nazi doctor had definitely saved his life, by performing an amputation, and most importantly removing his dog tag with its mention of ‘H’. The missing dog tags likely spared Levine from Berga, a notorious camp for Jewish POWs where 350 American soldiers were worked to the bone — or the grave.

berga

Levine went back to Normandy in 1981, where he wanted to meet the Nazi doctor but found out that he had died in 1954. A local historian tracked down Dr Woll’s family, who were happy to see Levine and his wife. They had an evening of drinks and toasts together. Levine mentioned to Edgar’s family how grateful he was for what he had done for Levine, to which one of Edgar’s family member said that if it hadn’t been for Levine, they would still be saying ‘Heil Hitler

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