American Soldiers Liberate Nazi Concentration Camps - I

A Survivor of the Nazi Regime


Preliminary Discoveries and Actions - Part I of 2

Many GIs spent only a few minutes to a few hours in a concentration camp, before moving onto their assigned military objectives. These soldiers were usually part of the units who overran, discovered or liberated the camps, not the special teams or units that arrived subsequently to provide food and medical care for the camp survivors.

Sergeant Harvey Metalsky, who passed through Landsberg with the 10th Armored Division recalled, "I did not go into any buildings because our job was to liberate whatever we could liberate and to chase German soldiers at that time. In other words, I was in an Armored Division, and the object of the troops at that time was to move as fast as we could, deeper into Germany...."[1] Other GIs reported passing through camps quickly with the expectation that Military Government personnel would arrive shortly with needed food and medicine.[2]

Requisite Military Inspections and Reports

A few officers conducted brief inspections before continuing toward their military targets. Dr. Sol Nichtern stated, "I did some kind of inspection which consisted of a walk-through, a shattering experience for me, and reported to Headquarters that a unit our size could not handle the camp." Dr. Nichtern along with his unit were instructed to proceed into Bavaria.[3]

Colonel James Moncrief conducted only the briefest of inspections at Buchenwald. "It was far more important for me to seek relief than to tarry making further inspections....I emphasized the urgency of the situation to the Division Chief of Staff....I reported that the limited assistance from within our division would be far short of that which was required. I urged that Third Army, to which the Armored Division was attached, be requested to send logistical support immediately."[4]

American soldiers who first arrived at the camps radioed immediately for assistance with manpower, medical supplies, food, and for advice on how to proceed. Most did not undertake formal inspections, but simply reported the conditions prevailing in the outer barbed wire enclosures to their superiors.[5]

First Official Priority - Securing Camp and Quarantining Survivors

After urgent radio messages were sent, the first administrative assignment for most military units involved securing the camp compounds and quarantining the prisoners. This task took precedence over providing food or medical care because the units which discovered and liberated the camps were in no way prepared to feed or give medical treatment to hundreds or even thousands of starving, diseased prisoners.

GIs almost to a man, however, gave away their rations, cigarettes, and candy bars, but the minimal supplies carried in their packs could not begin to feed the masses. Officers received instructions to post guards around the prisoner enclosures and to allow no one in and no one out.[6]

Many combat units found themselves in holding positions as detailed in this XV Corps report concerning Dachau. "Status of camp on morning of 30 April: The exterior of the camp was then under guard by the 45th Infantry Division. The interior of the camp was under guard by the 42nd Infantry Division, who were permitting no persons to leave or enter the interior of the area."[7]

GI's Instructed to Capture Inmates Who Escaped Into the Countryside

In some locations prisoners fled into the surrounding countryside and nearby villages and towns. This happened in locations where Nazi and German guards fled prior to the arrival of the Americans.[8] Colonel M. P. Rudolph described conditions at Dachau. "...facilities had been wrecked by the prisoners themselves in the first moments of liberation when they broke out and went looting for food and clothing."[9]

George Duncan recounted his experience with the escaped prisoners at Ohrdruf. "The ironic thing is we had to put the people we liberated in Linz [Austria] back in the prison camps....they went wild; they started looting the town and tearing the place to pieces and we were trying to restore order."[10]

Surgeon General's Concerns - Preventing the Spread of Typhus

Perhaps of graver concern than inmate looting and mob activities was the probable spread of typhus into large unprotected civilian populations. The Typhus Commission of the Surgeon General's Office reported that "in the brief interval between the liberation of the camps by our spearheads and the subsequent arrival of adequate numbers of holding forces, many louse-infested, typhus-incubatory inmates escaped."[11] For example, "at Mauthausen and Gusen the camps literally exploded into the surrounding area. Rounding up the inmates was only partly successful around each camp...."[12]

The concentration camp at Dachau was placed under an immediate and strict quarantine. "There would have been a catastrophe; if thousands of prisoners, motivated by a desire for vengeance had been allowed to escape the people in the bordering region would have suffered; it is impossible to predict the damage that might have resulted from the epidemic."[13] Throughout the concentration camp system and the surrounding localities inmates were screened by U.S. medical personnel, who quickly isolated those individuals with typhus or other infectious diseases.[14]

Change of Personnel - Front-line Troops Replaced by Support Personnel

Most of the GIs who initially entered the camps and assisted in containing the inmates inside the enclosures were soon replaced by personnel from Military Government, Hospital Teams, and specially trained Displaced Person (DP) teams.[15] A DP team was dispatched to Camp Landsberg on 28 April. Another DP team, number 115, headed by Lt. Charles Rosenbloom, arrived at Dachau less than 24 hours after liberation.

Rosenbloom's DP team included a doctor, a supply officer, an adjutant, a staff officer who would assist with administrative details and affairs, and six enlisted men. Trucks loaded with food and medical supplies dispatched by 7th Army arrived at Dachau on 30 April and hospital units, the 116th and 127th Evacuation Hospitals, arrived the following day.[16]

Early reports coming out of the camps issued urgent requests for additional assistance and more special units. "Combat troops are not organized, trained, nor equipped for the enforcement of Military Government. Mobile police elements such as motorized riot and police squads would be more effective than infantry trained soldiers."[17]

Summary Reports and the Arrival of War Crimes Teams

Summary reports issued in May describe the desperate need for special units and massive quantities of medical supplies and food. "With one or two rare exceptions, conditions in the more than 20 major concentration camps uncovered by allied armies have been extremely critical. Army Groups have made every effort to rush specialist personnel, medical equipment and supplies to the camps...." "The handling of the Dachau Concentration Camp which was uncovered late in April, with its more than thirty thousand diseased, starved inmates, was a difficult job that was still unfinished by the end of May. The task was so immense and urgent that the army made available large resources of supply, personnel, etc...."[18]

The government also trained War Crimes teams, who were sent into concentration camps to search for and secure camp records, in particular personnel records. They were responsible for collecting various kinds of evidence to be presented at War Crimes trials, and they systematically interviewed survivors and GIs, taking formal legal affidavits where appropriate.[19]

A Horrifying and Heart-rending Situation - Feeding the Starving Survivors

In their testimony GIs often mention the starved state of so many survivors. In a personal memoir Martin Loughlin, 80th Infantry Division, described what he witnessed. "My dim recollection was numbly handing out my K rations, as this was the greatest horror of war I had witnessed. It surpassed in scope the slaughter of the German army at Argentan and what I had witnessed in the Battle of the Bulge."[20]

Many GIs recall distributing whatever food, candy, gum, or cigarettes they had to the survivors. On the approach to Mauthausen camp, where substantial numbers of inmates had left the restrictive enclosures, GIs shared what they had. "We were out on the road and these people were released and just wandered away, and you'd see four or five or half a dozen together walking along the road, and every time a vehicle would go by, a soldier would throw a case of rations to them."[21]

Handing out rations created havoc at some camps, according to Private Vernon Roundtrey. "We had never dealt with a large group of people who were wild from starvation. We gave them our C rations which was a mistake. They were all over us in a minute, imploring us to give them anything edible."[22]

Author's Note: Part 2 of 2 will be available within two weeks. Thank you.

[1]Metalsky, Liberators, 48.

[2]Jack Bradford (1st Lieutenant, 9th Armored Battalion, Buchenwald), Telephone Interview by Theresa Ast, 1993; Zawacki, 1; Herbst, USHMM; Solomon, 20, Gratz; Auerbach, HMFI.

[3]Nichtern, 42, Q-Ast.

[4]Colonel Moncrief, Letter to Theresa Ast, 29 May 1993.

[5]Colonel Regnier, 71st Came, 27; Matteson, 11, JCRC; Mackenzie, DMC; Solomon, Gratz; Major Richard Winters, in Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 270 (hereafter cited as Ambrose, Band); Ward, USHMM.

[6]Pincus, Gratz; McFarland, 17, Walsh, 1, 17 Q-Ast.

[7]HQ, XV Corps, G-5 Report, Dachau, 5 May 1945, RG 331. The situation at Dachau concentration camp was a bit unusual. The inmate camp was part of a much larger installation that served the SS and contained an SS training school and other facilities. Dachau was approached from two different directions by the two infantry divisions (45th and 42nd) and they were ultimately assigned different areas to secure and in which to post guards.

[8]SHAEF G-5, Displaced Persons, "Concentration Camp at Gusen," 3 June 11945, 2711/7, RG 331; McKeithen, 18, Q-AST; Captain Charles E. Wilson, (84th ID), interview, 16 May 45, Salzwedel Concentration Camp, WNRC.

[9]Rudolph, "Typhus."

[10]Duncan, 5, Emory.

[11]Office of the Surgeon General, Typhus Commission, Report, 9 June 1945, to Headquarters, ETOUSA.


[13]Quotation from Distel, Dachau Concentration Camp; cf., Pincus, Gratz; Marcus Smith, Harrowing of Hell, 104.

[14]G-5 Summary XII Corps, 9 May 1945, RG 407; Adzick, 2, Emory.

[15]For information on the Displaced Persons teams see chapter 2, section "Information Available Through Military Channels."

[16]S-2 Journal, 411th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Infantry Division, 28 April to Adjutant General's Office; Smith, Harrowing, 81; Sparks, Monograph, 23.

[17]141st Infantry Regiment, Report--Germany, April 1945, RG 407.

[18]SHAEF G-5, Displaced Persons Report No. 32, Section III, 28 May 1945, RG 331; Historical Report, G-5, 6th Army Group, 1-31 May 1945, Entry 54, RG 331.

[19]War Crimes Team 6823 / Report Dachau, to JAG, RG 338; XV Corps, Action Against Enemy, Reports After, April 1945, Annex 5 / G-5 Historical Data, RG 407; Auerbach, HMFI.

[20]Loughlin, Memoir.

[21]King, 6, Emory; Lerner, Stoneking, DMC; Milbauer, Peretz, USHMM; Braun, 2, Hallett, 7, Montesinos, 5, Emory; Pincus, Gratz; Darr, 4, JCRC.

[22]Private Vernon Roundtrey, I Company, 5th Infantry Regiment, 71st Infantry Division, in McMahon, Siegfried, 471.

Wagonload of Starved Prisoners Discovered by Allied Troops


The Hiding Place

The Horror and Dislocation of War

Enemy at the Gate

More by this Author

Comments - American GI's Rescue Camp Survivors 47 comments

rlbert00 profile image

rlbert00 4 years ago from USA

This was an excellent read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The part that really sticks with me is the fact that even though the camps were freed when the American armed forces arrived, the soldiers were forced to keep the prisoners confined within the fences. I have always realized that it was in the prisoners' best interests but it's still rather heartbreaking. Excellent article.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your encouraging comments. It was, still is, terrible heart-breaking that they had to round up these men who had already suffered so horribly and put them back inside enclosures surrounded by soldiers carrying guns. But typhus was lethal and there was great fear of a literal plague sweeping across Europe in the aftermath of the war. Best for the survivors and the civilian population as well.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

PHDAST7 first just summerized all the important topics and at a glance tell your readers all about everything they want to know about this historical period. Through your words you turn this Hub into a single compelling narrative.. terrible, but easy to read .. lets call it a work of historical art.. through this hub you clearly show a truly graphic but continental perspective.. in short --you blew me away

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mours sshields 4 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

Very good, and excellent pictures also!!

Marcia Ours

Davesworld profile image

Davesworld 4 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

The TV mini-series "Band of Brothers" depicts this situation with a concentration camp in Germany. Though inaccurately portrayed as the 101st Airborne was not the first American unit into that particular camp, it is nonetheless heart rendering to watch.

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cwritesnow 4 years ago from Dushore, pa

Awesome. It's interesting to look at this through the perspective of the American Soldier not fully knowing what was going on. With a historical perspective, we know perfectly well what was going on. However; to the Soldier who was just stumbling onto these camps, they must've been bewildered. God bless them for helping the prisoners anyway they could, which they did. Our soldiers have been - and always will be - first-class citizens.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frank - Thank you for your incredibly encouraging comments. You make all the painstaking effort to let the soldiers speak in their own voice, as much as possible, worthwhile. For their sake and the sake of those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis, I do so want it to be a compelling narrative. I truly appreciate your thoughtful and nuanced comments - I consider them high praise indeed.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Marcia - Thank you for reading this Hub and for your kind and positive comments. I do appreciate them.

UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Voted up and awesome. I've known, in general, about the camp liberations, but your article is incredibly readable yet succinct and added to my knowledge. We've known about the death camps from history, but how does one react when they actually come across it with no previous knowledge?

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you cwritesnow. Exactly, the soldiers did not know and that is a major subject I covered in my dissertation some years ago. They had been told to expect POW camps, but literally the commanding oficers of most units got messages from HQ to divert from there assigned targets and check out a camp. Literally, on the day they walked through the gates, they got a message.

Even though I have read hundreds of testimonies I cannot fully imagine their shock, horror, and "bewilderment." (I may have covered some of that in my other Hubs about WW II and the camps.) I totally agree, our soldiers were and are first class and they deserve our respect and admiration. Thank you for commenting.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Super Hub. And to think there are people walking around this world stating that the Holocaust never happened. I visited one of the old camps while serving in Germany. It happened alright.

The Frog

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Thank you for the thorough report and sobering reminder of suffering. I have been studying military history all of my life. How long until we learn the lesson?

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

UnnamedHarald - I appreciate your comments. Succinct and readable....those were my goals. And to let the actual soldiers, the liberators, speak in their own words as much as possible. I tried to build a frame to support their voices, their memories, their eyewitness testimony.

" does one react when they actually come across it with no previous knowledge?" Excellent question, which I tried to address in one of the essays (using their own testimony and based on the actual Army After/Action Reports as much as possible), not sure which one. I will get back to you about this.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

UnnamedHarald - I went back and looked at the various hubs, and I believe the closest I came to answering your question was in a series of three Hubs pulled from the material in a chapter of my dissertation. They may noty fully answer your question but they are the best I can do.

They are: 1 - American GIs and German Soldiers, 2 - Another Look at the Interaction Between American GIs and German Soldiers, and 3 - A Final Look at American GIs and German Soldiers. I will also look and see if the next upcoming segment also addresses this question. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi phdast7, what can I say but awesome.

Just thought I'd ask you this question, since you're an authority on this topic. We know (or at least have a ball park figure) how many Jews Hitler killed, but how many other so called "undesirables" did he killed? (e.g., Asians, Gypsies, Arabs, Africans, etc) I've always been intrigue by that.

Take care


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Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Theresa,

A fascinating and interesting hub about a very disturbing and tragic time in history.

For the life of me, I will never comprehend how humans are capable of such hate.

Bless the U.S. soldiers who were brought in to liberate the Nazi camps and to you for letting their voices be heard.

I look forward to reading part 2.

Voted up and awesome.

Take care


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frog Prince - Thank you sir. The Holocaust Deniers and Historical Revisionists are simply unbelievable. I have had occasion to tangle with them at several public venue and they are pernicious racists. And thank you for your service.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

WD - You are welcome. And you are right. I am always surprised by people who feel we no longer need to remember or try to unravel the tragedies of our time. But to me there is every reason to remember, study, and engage with the past. Thank you for your comments.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi John - Good question. Only rough estimates of the number of non-combatants (read civilians) who died as a result of the Holocaust can be made, but these numbers are compiled from several reliable and respected Holocaust and World War II historians.

Estimates of Non-Combatant Lives Lost During the Holocaust:

Ukrainians 5.5 - 7 million

Jews (of all countries) 6 million +

Russian POWs 3.3 million +

Russian Civilians 2 million +

Poles 3 million +

Yugoslavians 1.5 million +

Gypsies 200,000 - 500,000

Mentally/Physically Disabled 70,000- 250,000

Homosexuals Tens of thousands

Spanish Republicans Tens of thousands

Jehovah's Witnesses 2,500 - 5,000

Boy and Girl Scouts, Clergy, Communists, Czechs, Deportees, Greeks, Political Prisoners, Other POWs, Resistance Fighters, Serbs, Socialists, Trade Unionists, Others Numbers Unknown

Table assembled from figures quoted by Milton; Lukas 38-39, 232; Gilbert 824; Berenbaum 123; and Holocaust Internet information sites.

Thank you for the comment and the question. Theresa

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

phdast7, you're the authority on this subject - hands down!!!



phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi John - I do try to be the authority. :) Otherwise, I wasted a lot of time and energy in grad school. :) I will probably post an actual Hub with all this information (and a better list of references, so people can check it out for themselves if they wish) later today.

BTW, if you have time please read and comment on a couple of Hubs by Mark Monroe. He is really good and his articles are very timely, but don't get much attention (they are long, well researched, extremely well-written and don't have a lot of bright pretty pictures to attract attention). Perhaps we can help generate a few followers for his work. Oh, and thank you for the fan mail.

P.S. New picture. What's the occasion?

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Sue - Thanks for all the comments and votes. I have studied this stuff for years and I still don't understand. There are historians (and Elie Wiesel) who say the Holocaust is "ahistorical," outside of history and cannot be explained by history or human reasoning, it can only be remembered and opposed.

I have such admiration for the soldiers: for their actions then and for their willingness to testify later. Without their eyewitness testimony I could not write about those times.

You take care as well. Theresa

gjfalcone profile image

gjfalcone 4 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

Fascinating documentation of military priorities. Your powerful dipiction of the initial response of spending mere minutes with regards to humanity in order to pursue the fleeing Germans, and the subsequent logistic necessity placed things in a perspective that seems surreal to me.

A heart rendering impossible human task to respond to for the so-called hardened soldier. Yet they did what they could. And I could only imagine remains to those witnesses to this very day.

Once again I thank you for the education Professor.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

What a great descriptive word - surreal. I read transcripts of veterans, many of whom got stiff and quiet and others who broke down crying, when they described having to march away and leave the inmates in their terrible condition because the CO said "orders" were to push forward to the next "military" objective.

Which as you said speaks volumes about US and Allied priorities. The camps and their inmates were never US military objectives; they were discovered and over-run because troops were headed to other specific targets.

Apparently there was much arguing between Roosevelt's cabinet ministers and generals about this decision; we could easily have bombed Auschwitz and other camps and put the gas chambers out of commission, but that was not the priority.

Jewish representatives asked the US to bomb the gas chambers, accepting the Jewish Losses than that implied,Convinced the numbers who died and be less than if the camp was allowed to keep operating. The government and generals turned down the request and the priority for US policy was established - win the war first, open the camps, preserve life, punish the perpetrators. It was a terrible decision to have to make.

You are welcome, but the education works both ways; I learn something about American politics from your Hubs all the time. Thank you as well.

Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Never again! I can't wait till you get to meaty part, the Nuremburg trials, where justice is to be dispensed. Many of the ringleaders had a date with the hangman. But it appears that the world has not learned the lesson of Nazi atrocity, so much of it is practiced by combatants around the world on a smaller scale. Great read, Phdast7, look forward to the next installment.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Credence, I appreciate your comments. More installments are already researched and planned, but I will have to start from scratch on Nuremberg (which is a fascinating subject. Maybe I can get to it this summer. I only teach half-time in the summers. Take care. :)

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

I'm so glad you've had what it takes to do the research and compile the facts with insightful perspective on the circumstances that victims and troops faced. I have to read your hubs quickly the first time in order to be prepared to read them more thoroughly a little later. It takes a special courage to do such thorough research on a topic like this, though we can be motivated by many factors.

You may be tired of hearing it by now, but your work with this history is important and I'm thankful you are posting these hubs. I'll continue looking over the comments on your hubs a little along, and checking out Mark Monroe's work. You might like to consider a link to his work somewhere in yours, and he might link back to yours--I don't see that here, but might have missed it.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dear RTalloni - No, I don't actually hear such things that often and it is very gratifying and encouraging to receive thoughtful comments like yours. The fact that my father's family lived through that time period has given me motivation and courage and determination to continue researching such a dark topic.

They were Catholics and so thy lived through the Nazi and the Soviet invasions and immigrated to the US. As soon as he was old enough my father joined the US Air Force. So I have always had an affinity for military topics as well.

I try to share Mark Monroe's work on a regular basis...and I know this sounds pathetic, but I am incredibly computer and technology stupid....I have never linked anyone or anything because I do not know how to. But I will do some reading and check the tutorials and see if I can learn. Thanks for the suggestion and all the encouragement. Theresa

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

It took me a while to learn to use the tools I've learned, but once you learn to use the link capsule you'll do well. The links capsule is located in the same area as your text capsule.

You'll also learn other ways to include links, but that capsule might be a good start for you.

Looking forward to more of your work.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you. I usually just ignore most of the options, but I will definitely learn now to use the link capsule. I appreciate you pointing that out. Thank you for your encouragement. :) Theresa

hectordang profile image

hectordang 4 years ago from New York

Wow, what an emotional piece! The pictures were really sad! It's just a really sad time for Germany. I wonder if the US will help with the killings that are going on with Syria in modern times!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Hector - Thank you for reading the Hub about the US Army. I appreciate your comments. It was anincredibly sad and tragic time. I don't know if the US will get involved in Syria or not. Thanks for taking time to comment.

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada


Oh that must have been heartrending for everyone concerned when the victims had to be rounded up and returned to their prisons!

I can easily imagine the confusion and desperation that must have landed on those front-line troops when they approached those camps. For my thoughts on the spread of typhus into the surrounding German communities would be closely akin to..."welcome to our world"

Great Job! I am sharing before headed to part 2!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Thomas - I know I would have had a terrible time rounding up those poor souls who had just experienced a few hours of freedom. I don't think I would have much cared whether the Germans nearby contracted Typhus or not.

Not very kind or Christian of me, but I think my judgement would have been clouded by anger and disgust and fury.

Thank you for commenting and sharing. Theresa

sjwalsh profile image

sjwalsh 4 years ago from Brookline, MA

Excellent article giving an insight into one of the most horrific crimes against humanity in history. Well written, factual and informative.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you sj -- I teach all kinds of history, but the research for my dissertation (and these articles) focused on American GI's who saw or liberated one of the concentration camps. I appreciate your positive and encouraging comments.

j19b 4 years ago

lest we forget

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

j19b - You have completely encapsulated my reason for researching and writing. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Charles Gordon 3 years ago

My late father Lt Harold Gordon was a platoon leader over 5 M24 tanks in the 8th Armored Division (Platoon 1, 36D). He told me many years ago (1970's) his platoon was the first to arrive at a large concentration camp near the Hartz mountains late in the war (from my research it was probably the Buchenwald sub camp Langenstein around April 15, 45). He said they were only their 20 minutes before being ordered to move out and someone else would handle the camp. I remember he said his orders were to find the German army (the M24s were used for recon late in the war) and get moving. He described dead victims and survivors in horrible conditions. "Men that were 6ft tall under 100lbs". He said they passed out some rations before getting the orders to leave. He said the survivors were very upset they had to leave so fast. An 8th armored medical battalion arrived the next day or two and gave them great care moving them to Halberstadt.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Charles -

Your fathers experiences and memories sound so much like so many of the GI testimonies that I was privileged to read and hear. From what you say it probably was a Buchenwald sub-camp (i am still amazed that so many people still think there were only 8 or maybe 10 concentration camps in Germany and do not realize that every main camps was a HUB with many, many sub- camps attached to it). His experience of having to move on quickly also parallels the testimony of most GIs -- they had other objectives to reach and could not stay even if they wanted to. Thank you for reading and commenting, and even though he is no longer here, I do thank your father for his service to our country. May you have a Blessed Christmas. :)







phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Mr. Drutarovsky - First, thank you for serving your country . Second, I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties and you wife's cancer.

I did go search through all my sources and notes and I did not find anything with your name listed on it. I am so sorry and wish I could be of some help.. I an surprised and dismayed that the local Veterans Affairs association has not been able to help you track down your service records so you can obtain some financial or medical support.

My best to you and your wife. Theresa Ast

paul drutt 3 years ago

Thank you Theresa Ast I thank GOD for people It was worth to fight

for people like you If you ever hear of anyone that heard abouth the 282 f,a or of any store that has a book about out unit let me know

and praying for you and all your love ones for a happy and blessed long life Paul Drutarovsky

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Mr. Drutarovsky.

First, you are very, very welcome and my family and I thank you for your dedication and service to your country. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any information or book about the 282nd Field Artillery. I wish I had some information to pass along to you. I so appreciate your kind, thoughtful, and encouraging words. Thank you for your good wishes and prayers. Wishing you and your family many blessings.


Theresa Ast

p drutarovsky 3 years ago

Has anyone heard of the unit 282 fa that served in ww 2 that was DACHAU

paul drutarovsky 3 years ago

I know that they were people from pa. that was in DACHAV WITH ME

I would like to hear from any one that was in the 282 f.a or any one that know me Thank you all and GOD bless AMERICA

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Mr Dutarovsky - I put out an announcement that several hundred people on Hubpages will see, with your information and request. Is someone sees it, they will know to contact you here and respond to your other comment I hope you get a response. Blessings.

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