Writing a World War II Veteran's Daughter ~~ 3rd Armored Division

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Historical Background


I spent six years at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, 1989-1995, working on my Masters and Doctoral degrees in Modern European History. My long term goal was to teach university level history, but my short term goal, dictated by the requirements for the Ph.D., was to conduct original research and complete a dissertation. Because I was already very interested in World War II and the Holocaust, I decided to conduct research on the American GIs who liberated the concentration camps.

The research and writing process took a long time and during that period I was in touch with many World War II veterans. Some of them filled out a questionnaire for me. Others had completed surveys about their experiences for other researchers, projects or archives. In some instances the veteran and I developed a correspondence and they often sent me valuable historical materials, in addition to answering my survey questions.

Even after teaching for over fifteen years, I still occasionally hear from a family member of one of the veterans. Recently I had the pleasure of being contacted through HubPages by the daughter, Louise Fletcher, of a soldier mentioned in my dissertation, “Henry Soderberg.” Louise has never read my dissertation, but she found my name on a piece of paper in her father’s possessions after he died. She contacted me hoping for copies of anything her father might have written. Below is her message to me and my response to Mrs. Fletcher.

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A Veteran's Daughter Seeks Information



Louise Fletcher - Hi, I commented yesterday without realizing I had to sign up first. I apologize. My Dad was a WWII vet Third Armored Division. I found evidence that he may have taken part in your survey but I'm not sure if it was yours or it was another one. He was writing to 'Miss Ast'. His name was Henry Soderberg. If he did, I'd love to have a copy of what he sent you. He died 2/14/2010.


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Letter to a Veteran's Daughter


Hi Louise, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. I know how hard that is, my father an Air Force Veteran passed away December 2010. I had to do a bit of searching to find your father's name (there are over 500 veteran’s names listed in the back of my dissertation.) Mr. Soderberg, did not fill out a survey for me, for the Crawford, Witness to the Holocaust Project at Emory University. However, long before I started working on the liberator projects at Emory, your father and many other veterans completed a survey conducted by the United States Army.

It was called the World War II Survey Questionnaire, and they are located at the United States Army Military History Institute, which is in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the survey as I'm sure you can imagine, was to gather as much information as possible from the World War II veterans before it was too late. The survey asked all kinds of questions about their military service and experience.

I wish I could remember specifically if your father and I corresponded, but I worked with the questionnaires, surveys, tape recordings, letters, and photographs of over 500 veterans. What was interesting, and which might explain why your father had my name, was that if I did conduct an Emory University Questionnaire with a veteran, they often either wrote to or talked to other veterans they were in touch with, about me and the project.


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Henry Soderberg, 3rd Armored Division, Greatest Generation


In fact, I think one of the veterans mentioned all the questionnaires at Carlisle Barracks. Otherwise, I would never have known about them because I lived in Georgia. I will say this about all of the many, many veterans whom I have talked to, who wrote wonderful letters to me, who shared their personal war-time letters, pictures, memoirs, and memorabilia with me...they were incredibly thoughtful, generous, kind, and helpful. They were everything we think about, when we think of the men of the Greatest Generation.

I don't have a copy of his questionnaire because they did not allow us to make copies. They allowed me to see them and make handwritten notes in pencil. I no longer have those pencil scribbled notes, which ended up filling eight shoe-boxes, as I completed my dissertation fifteen years ago.

I don't know where you live, if you are close enough to make a trip to Carlisle barracks. But if not, I suggest writing the archivist in charge, explaining who you are, that your father a World War II veteran recently passed away, and ask them to make a copy of his questionnaire and mail it to you.


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A Belated Thank You to a Generation of Soldiers


There might be a small charge for the copying expenses, but I'm not sure. Since he was a veteran and you were his family, they might do it for free. I had to pay for anything that I copied -- letters and reports -- but that is understandable because I was doing a research project.

I wish I could be of more help and I'm very glad you contacted me and I hope that Carlisle Barracks will be able and willing to provide you with your father's information. My condolences to your family and please convey to them the enormous respect and gratitude that so many of us feel for the men (and women) who fought in World War II. Thank you. Theresa Ast

P.S. Occasionally, I will use comments or questions that people write to me, as the basis for creating a new Hub or essay. I would like to do that with your request and my reply. I think we all need to remember our World War II veterans and especially remember that as they pass on, they are leaving beloved families behind. I hope you do not mind.

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Louise Fletcher responded: I have a letter here that Dad started to write to you, but I am guessing he never sent it. We live outside of Philadelphia so I will check out the Carlisle connection as soon as I can. It's not close by but it's in the state!!

I am looking forward to reading more on the site as I loved to hear Dad's stories about the war. He didn't say a lot, but I did videotape him for 8 hours about 3 months before he died. We made a 30 minute video - you can google it under Henry D. Soderberg if you have time. Thanks for the information, Theresa!!


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A Daughter Responds - The Conversation Continues


Theresa! Thanks so much for the beautiful essay, for the information about Carlisle and for being here for me and all the others interested in what happened during WWII and to those who were there, since that time. And thank you and Patriette for the condolences for Dad. It's funny how things happen.

I had put Dad's things aside for a bit, but on the anniversary of D Day this week, a business colleague, Ed Snyder, sent me an email reminding me of the D Day anniversary. I told him briefly about Dad and that I'd be sure to wear his dog tags on this special day. He called me and was very emotional; he said that he was working on collecting information on those who helped liberate the concentration camps.

I sent him the letter that Dad had started to write to Miss Ast - he was thrilled to have it. I will direct him to this website on Monday when I get back into work. I have another friend whose Dad was on the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. I'll have to renew my efforts to have his daughter record his memories of that time. I am very impressed by the activity on this site, and the quality of the responses from all.

I feel like we are all on the same page - and we all want to know more about this time in America's history - and the Greatest Generation. A big "Thank you" to "Miss Ast" for her dedication to history via writing, teaching and maintaining this site, and to all who contribute so thoughtfully, to this site. I look forward to sharing more information in the future.

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You are so very welcome, Louise. And there are quite a few people in addition to Patriette who appreciate your father’s service and sacrifice and are excited about the possibilities that await you at MHI. (I went on their website last night and things have changed since I was there 19 years ago. Just be very persistent and tell them what you want to see are the WW II Survey Questionnaires. Eventually they will put you in touch with the right person in the right building.)

Mr. Snyder sounds like a wonderful friend. It takes some digging, but there is a lot of information on the Nazi camps and the American Liberators on the USHMM website, but it is general information, probably not specific to a single individual. But they do have some very good bibliographies which list the most relevant books.

“I sent him the letter that Dad had started to write to Miss Ast - he was thrilled to have it. I will direct him to this website on Monday when I get back into work.”

Please do. I have about ten essays on HP specifically dealing with the concentration camps and these have foot notes giving the names of the solders and the location where I found their testimony. And I am so glad you are encouraging your friend to record her father’s memories. Soon all we will have are the letter and tapes and photographs.

“I am very impressed by the activity on this site, and the quality of the responses from all. I feel like we are all on the same page - and we all want to know more about this time in America's history - and the Greatest Generation.”

It is a great site and we appreciate the HubPages staff, who maintain this platform-site for all of us to use. There are all kinds of writers, all kinds of topics, and all levels of writing here. Each of us chooses what we are interested in and what we want to read. Of course I am most interested in history. I, quite a few of us on HP, look forward to hearing from you again.

Blessings.

Theresa

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Comments 51 comments

Dbro profile image

Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Wow! What a wonderful correspondence between you and Henry Soderberg's daughter! It must have been very gratifying to you to have a hand in recording the history of these brave soldiers before it was all lost forever! We owe you and all WWII historians a debt of gratitude for saving such an important part of our history!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Just great Theresa! As the son of a WWII vet I salute you for the fine work you have done. I loved the correspondence in this hub.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you so much Dbro. This just happened today, but in digging trough my file cabinets, I realized that I probably have many stories to tell based on my correspondence with the actual veterans. It will take time, but I am excited about this.

I don't have the time or energy to write a book (there is that full-time job top pay the bills thing) and there are some really good ones already out there, but I can honor and memorialize these soldiers on HubPages. Thank you for your encouragement. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Bill! In digging though files and papers in my file cabinet trying to answer this ladies question, I found two large envelopes of letters the veterans had written to me to help with the concentration camp research. Now I realize that I can honor some of these soldiers by sharing about them on HP. :)


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon

As always, interesting and informative. I remember trying to filter government offices trying to secure medals and awards from my fathers exploits upon his death in 1964. He was at Normandy D day 3, where he was wounded and hospitalized.I was 18 when he died, but, he shared many stories with me. They were not painted in glory, but in the reality of war. I sometimes wonder of the those men and things they knew as the consequence of war. Things I will never know. Being the story is so far removed from hearing the story. Imagine being the story of the holocaust. We have only their story. We think we can know, but, what we know is the shadow of things past.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Theresa: Great article! Isn't great to use primary sources in research. It think it is so neat that you have corresponded with Louise about her dad. These men were really the Greatest Generation. My dad was in WWII as a Navy man in the Pacific. He did not talk much about his experiences either. I think these were men of honor and if told not to speak of something they didn't. There have never been any "leaks" about the war from my dad. Or may be they were trying to protect us from the true horrors of war.

Your WWII articles are all so interesting and I always love the photos. Today, the photos look so quaint and and 20th century. War is so different today. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences as a history professor at a university.


Patriette profile image

Patriette 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

This is incredibly moving, Teresa. You are a fine and compassionate historian....  I'm sorry for the loss of your father Ms. Fletcher, and owe Mr. Soderberg and the Greatest Generation a great debt of thanks for their bravery and sacrifices. Thank you both for sharing this.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Patriette - I am glad it was moving and thank you for saying so. When we are not in personal danger ourselves, I think it is far too easy for us to forget the bravery and sacrifice of those who protect us (firemen and policemen) and those who protect our country. I sent your condolences to Ms. Fletcher. She will appreciate them. Thank you and you are welcome. Theresa


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

thank you for what you did and for calling our attention to it.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Alan – What an emotional and difficult task and labor of love, that must have been, dealing with the government and paperwork in order to receive the things that were your father’s due, and when you were so young. I am not surprised that his stories were not painted in glory.

While doing the research for my dissertation, I read many written testimonies, reports, and letters. I listened and transcribed many hours of tapes by World War II veterans and actually got to interview five veterans myself.

Ninety-five per cent of the veterans were not inclined to exaggerate; they did not glorify the harsh realities of war, of combat; they did not seem to wear rose colored glasses. For the most part these were sober men, who came home and built families, and spoke very little about their experiences. I was amazed at how many men indicated that for 20, 30, even 40 years they had said very little, but in their 60s and 70s they felt the need to go on record, to tell their story.

“Being the story is so far removed from hearing the story.” It is indeed far removed; I came to believe that my responsibility is to listen, and let their voices speak as much as possible through my academic writing. That work, the veteran's stories, were the first thing I posted on HP.

“Imagine being the story of the holocaust. We have only their story. We think we can know, but, what we know is the shadow of things past.” Yes, we only know the shadow of events. You have expressed that beautifully; it reminds me of things that Elie Wiesel says...that the Shoah is beyond human comprehension.

Of course he does not mean that we should not study and write and seek to understand, but on some level we never shall. In some ways the Holocaust, and perhaps other events as well, are "ahistorical" outside of that which we understand to be human history...beyond comprehension by rational men because they were such incredibly irrational events. I think I agree with you and Elie Wiesel. Good night. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Mhatter - What a kind and thoughtful thing to say. It is my pleasure and responsibility to share the soldier's stories, for most of them can no longer speak to us. And if I can occasionally speak to, or for, the families they have left behind, then that is a privilege. Thank you for your comments.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Theresa, great article. Ms Fletcher knows more about getting info about her dad as a result of her correspondence with you, even if initially she was disappointed to discover her dad was not part of your research. My grandfather served in WWII in Egypt and Europe and was liberated at Dunkirk but that is all I know about him and I would love to know more. I am glad that your support of Henry's family has led you to consider writing more about your research. I look forward to reading about it in the future.

Voted up and shared.


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

It is so important for me to say "Thank You" for what you have accomplished and what you continue to accomplish for "The Greatest Generation". Knowing you are in this world, educating generations to come of what these distinguished individuals did for this country and and their fellow comrades, allows me to have confidence that there legacy will not go unnoticed.

It has been a sad and bittersweet chapter as I have sadly saluted many of these brave individuals at their final resting place, buring with them the valuable first hand accounts of so many. As you have stated in previous writings, it is not only the bravery and astonishing feats that were accomplished, but the accolades these men and women bestowed upon their fellow soldiers and nurses, never taking any opportunity to acknowledge there own.

I just can not thank you enough. I only wish I could shake your hand.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and awesome. Must be good to know that you can help her. Thanks for sharing and thanks for caring for the many soldiers and keeping their memories alive. God bless.


LouiseJeffers 4 years ago

Theresa! Thanks so much for the beautiful essay, for the information about Carlisle and for being here for me and all the others interested in what happened during WWII and to those who were there, since that time. And thank you and Patriette for the condolences for Dad. It's funny how things happen. I had put Dad's things aside for a bit, but on the anniversary of D Day this week, a business colleague, Ed Snyder, sent me an email reminding me of the D Day anniversary. I told him briefly about Dad and that I'd be sure to wear his dog tags on this special day. He called me and was very emotional; he said that he was working on collecting information on those who helped liberate the concentration camps. I sent him the letter that Dad had started to write to Miss Ast - he was thrilled to have it. I will direct him to this website on Monday when I get back into work. I have another friend whose Dad was on the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered. I'll have to renew my efforts to have his daughter record his memories of that time. I am very impressed by the activity on this site, and the quality of the responses from all. I feel like we are all on the same page - and we all want to know more about this time in America's history - and the Greatest Generation. A big "Thank you" to "Miss Ast" for her dedication to history via writing, teaching and maintaining this site, and to all who contribute so thoughtfully, to this site. I look forward to sharing more information in the future. Enjoy the weekend!


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

HOLY COW!!!! For me, this is amazing!!!! To have access to read her words...I know others probably think I'm ridiculous but too me, this is like meeting your favorite author or rock star!!!! Please let Louise Jeffers know how much I, as a reader of this site, thank her for writing in. Also let her know that I am honored to read the words of this great mans daughter.

Do you think you might ever suggest to her to become a member and share the knowledge her Father shared with her, along with information she has acquired from other WWII participants over the years? Just asking.

I was so excited and writing so fast, I had to go back and correct everything as my words initially made no sense and ran into one another!!!!

So cool!

Respectfully,

Proud Daughter of a WWII Veteran


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dear shining - You are so kind and thoughtful. You are very welcome. It really is both a duty and a privilege for me to do what I can. One of the things that touched me deeply when I first read your home page was how much you loved your father and obviously cared about his generation. It is up to us to honor their memories and keep them alive as best we can.

I am sure that it has been bittersweet and sad. Many, not all, but many of the men I interviewed and corresponded with in the mid nineties are no longer with us. Sometimes I have gotten a letter from a wife or a child who has discovered my letters when they go through their loved one's papers, and that is just another opportunity for me to say thank you again.

Shaking hands in person would be wonderful, but I consider that from this day forward you and I have intellectually and emotionally shaken hands, and we are friends and colleagues who care about history and memory and all those brave souls.

Theresa


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Theresa, what a wonderful and heartfelt essay this one is. What can I say, but I'm not surprise, because, you're one of HP's most gifted writers!...

Enjoy your Saturday!

Voted up and away!

John


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Suzette. I have been so pleased by the response to this Hub. And I do love using primary sources. Louise's comment came out f left field, but I am so glad she found me and now we can build from there. I didn't know your dad was in the Navy, mine was Air Force involved in Viet Nam. I do think they knew how to keep quiet, but from the men I interviewed, I do think they were trying to protect their families and I also think when they came back that a lot of people were so glad the war was over and they wanted to get on with normal life. I think that was very hard on the soldiers.

You are very welcome. Is is a pleasure and a privilege to write these hubs. Hope your weekend is going splendidly. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Gypsy. I used to wish I could do more for the soldiers, the veterans...I tried to answer every letter they wrote patiently and with consideration. How surprising, and yet somehow how right that I should be corresponding with one of their daughters. :) Blessings to you as well. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you John. This hub was totally unplanned and came out of nowhere...all because Louise Fletcher contacted me about her father. It was nice to return to the materials I worked with in the mid nineties. I really cared about that research, but once the dissertation is done, you have to get a job and teach, teach, teach. No more time for working on your research project. :(

The new focus is to pay monthly bills, but also education loans. I was very lucky though. Emory gave me a very generous scholarship so my first four year years were a free ride. I only had to take out loans for the fifth year. Mercifully, I paid all those off about five years ago. :)

My Saturday has been good, thank you. I hope yours has too. Theresa


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

What a touching true story. I love your posting the conversation. Thanks for the history lesson as well.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Jools. It has been pretty amazing connecting with the daughter of a veteran who I mentioned in my dissertation. I think she is excited too. I wonder if it would e possible to find out more about your grandfather through written inquiries to the US Center for Military History or the National Archives in DC? I haven't been to either one in twenty years so I am not sure what their procedures are. I appreciate the vote and sharing. Have a great week. :)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I'm in the UK. I am already checking out info via the War Veterans official records. My dad can remember some and also my grandfather's elderly sister so I'm hoping to know a bit more soon. I managed to find some World War 1 info about my great-grandfather that way, so I'm hopeful.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

PHdast7 again.. you make this type of hub seem flawless and yet I know a lot went into it.. it must be wonderful to make a connection with someone's family you wrote about.. but honestly.. don't you get the chills.. or goose bumps? I respect your types of hub and I salute you too..:) Frank


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Louise, you are so very welcome. And there are quite a few people in addition to Patriette who appreciate your father’s service and sacrifice and are excited about the possibilities that await you at MHI. (I went on their website last night and things have changed since I was there 19 years ago. Just be very persistent and tell them what you want to see are the WW II Survey Questionnaires. Eventually they will put you in touch with the right person in the right building.)

Mr. Snyder sounds like a wonderful friend. It takes some digging, but there is a lot of information on the Nazi camps and the American Liberators on the USHMM website, but it is general information, probably not specific to a single individual. But they do have some very good bibliographies which list the most relevant books.

“I sent him the letter that Dad had started to write to Miss Ast - he was thrilled to have it. I will direct him to this website on Monday when I get back into work.” Please do. I have about ten essays on HP specifically dealing with the concentration camps and these have foot notes giving the names of the solders and the location where I found their testimony. And I am so glad you are encouraging your friend to record her father’s memories. Soon all we will have are the letter and tapes and photographs.

“I am very impressed by the activity on this site, and the quality of the responses from all. I feel like we are all on the same page - and we all want to know more about this time in America's history - and the Greatest Generation.” It is a great site and we writers appreciate the HubPages staff, who maintain this platform-site for all of us to use. There are all kinds of writers, all kinds of topics, and all levels of writing here. Each of us chooses what we are interested in and what we want to read. Of course I am most interested in history. I, we, look forward to hearing from you again. Blessings. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Teaches, and you are very welcome. It has been touching and it was so unexpected. I hadn't looked at the veteran's materials in over 17 years! I have continued adding our emails to the bottom of the Hub. Hope you have a great week. :)


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

Teresa....Thank you for writing about the contributions of American World War II veterans. There are so few of them still living and able to share their firsthand knowledge of that time. All too soon there will be none at all, so their legacy of courage and honor must be shared with future generations through written and filmed accounts.

My own father, who died last year, would never talk about his wartime experiences, but kept a few photographs made in Germany and Italy during his military service. He kept no pictures of the horrors he must have seen, for his mind could not bear the memories. Many aspects of his behavior after demobilization and, indeed, for the remainder of his life, were attributed to "nerves", but would in the present time likely be diagnosed as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. It was termed "shell shock" back then, and so many vets (and their families) suffered from its effects.

My late father-in-law could still be startled mightily by a sudden loud noise in his late 80s because of his wartime experience. It was well known among his family that no one should ever walk up behind him silently without advance warning. This persisted into his old age as well. In addition, he told me that he was never able to rid himself of the sensory memory of battlefield stench.

My late stepfather also served in WWII, but in a different area--the Pacific theater. He was an enthusiastic storyteller. One of my hubs (I Walked Across Crocodile River - a true World War II story about Guadalcanal after the battles) tells the story of one of his experiences at that time. Although I rewrote his account, the story is his alone, which I make clear in the intro to the hub. He related the story at a reunion of his military battalion that I'm so glad he attended before worsening health put an end to his travel.

Again...thank you for a beautiful memorial to World War II veterans. We owe them so much, foremost not to forget them.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi shining - It is pretty cool, isn't it? And so unexpected! I have told her and I will tell her how many of you appreciate her and appreciate her father. In fact, I think she will be reading these comments from time to time. She has joined HP and I will encourage her to post here. Glad you are excited. Me, too. :) Theresa


rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

Interesting for sure Theresa. It is to to my notice a very warm connection which forms among those related by war and then share the stories of their families and bring new stories to life

Your conversation here, is one such example of how this happens,

Respect and love to both you and Louise


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I knew you were in the UK, but I forgot. Sorry. Good for you, checking with the War Veterans records. Let us know what you uncover and tell us about your search. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frank - You say the things an academic hopes for and longs to hear. Thank you so much. You are surely an encourager by nature. It was quite amazing (goose bumps and all) to get an unexpected comment from the daughter of a man whose materials I looked at at MHI, Carlisle Barracks, PA one summer some 19 years ago.

I vividly remember that summer, the research trip, the Carlisle Barracks military history archive, and the over one hundred questionnaires I looked at.

And although I certainly didn't remember any details, when I got to his name in the comment, Henry Soderberg, I knew I would find him somewhere in my dissertation. The name was that familiar. I certainly do not remember all of their names, 500 or so.

But some of them wrote letters to me, others had really unusual experiences, and some like Henry had unusual names, Russian, German, Polish. It is a small crazy world we all live in. I hope you have a wonderful week. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You make keen and useful observations, Rahul. I do think wars and other great tragedies do at times bring people together. Thank you for your kind thoughts and words for Louise and me. They are much appreciated. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jaye - You are very welcome. It is important to share their story as so many of them are no longer with us. During my research I found that most WW II veterans (about 80% by their own admission) never talked or shared about their experiences except with fellow soldiers. Only as they approached 70 r so and with some outside encouragement did they decide to go on record.

“Many aspects of his behavior after demobilization and, indeed, for the remainder of his life, were attributed to "nerves", but would in the present time likely be diagnosed as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. It was termed "shell shock" back then, and so many vets (and their families) suffered from its effects.”

You are absolutely correct. I had a chapter on the very real, but almost completely misunderstood and untreated symptoms of PTSD the veterans suffered from, but it didn’t make it into the dissertation – time constraints. I still have an envelope full of notes I took in the mid 1990’s.

As awful as they were, your father-in-law’s symptoms were not that uncommon. In the fifties men had a stronger belief that they must appear stoic and often would not seek help, even if it was available, which it seldom was.

“One of my hubs (I Walked Across Crocodile River - a true World War II story about Guadalcanal after the battles) tells the story of one of his experiences at that time.” I will be sure and read this soon.

“Again...thank you for a beautiful memorial to World War II veterans.” We owe them so much, foremost not to forget them. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words - we do owe them much.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

It is a wonderful thing for you to work at keeping the facts available for the future, and to be able to communicate with the families of those who served so faithfully. You must be amazed more often than not at some of the connections you make! I'm sure it means a lot to families to know that people like you work to relate the stories and keep the memories of their loved ones alive.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I always found primary sources interesting to read and learn about. I remember my grandfather telling stories about being in a Soviet jail and my grandmother telling me how she fled Northern Romania when the front was being pushed back by the Red Army. She told me that she ran out of her house with a luggage in her hand and she left everything she owned behind. Romania lost Basarabia (Bessarabia) after the war and so she never even went back.

I am not a fan of wars and I am certainly not a fan of the way wars are handled nowadays: leaders sitting in their office giving orders to the common man who is supposed to go risk their lives ... (often times for crooked reasons). I have respect for leaders who fought with their armies, not ones who point their fingers and collect medals. Alexander the Great comes to mind, Napoleon ... I can even name some of my ancestors like King Decebal, Burebista, Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), etc. We lack just and courageous leaders nowadays. Just my opinion.

Interesting read. Cheers!


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

What is so fantastic now are the amazing reads in all the responses! Don't feel the need to respond to all my comments. I'm just impressed by what your article has generate


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello RT. I got lots of letters a few phone calls and one visit from a veterans when I was working on the dissertation. It has been amazing and gratifying to hear from a family member every few years since then.

There is always a story if we will take time to listen and look. I have been overwhelmed by the positive response to this Hub. It was totally unplanned. :) Thank you for your comments. Theresa


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phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Primary sources are important and interesting. What amazing, although certainly tragic, history your family has lived through. I couldn't agree with you more. It is a disgrace that "leaders" are not at the head of their men anymore like they used to be.

t is entirely too, too easy to send men into a dangerous and possibly un-winnable situation when you are drinking coffee in an air-conditioned "situation room." I agree, just and courageous leaders are very few and far between. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope things are well with you. Theresa


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phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi shining - I won't always respond - thanks for letting me off the hook. :) I have been so surprised and impressed by the responses. This was a last minute unplanned hub centered on my comment to her. I thought 5 or 6 people might comment. This has been amazing. :)


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Theresa,

This is wonderful.

Henry Soderberg and all the other soldiers who liberated the concentration deserve our deepest respect and thanks. They are true heroes.

Thank you for sharing.

Voted up and away!

Enjoy your weekend. :)


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phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Sue - Thank you for your exuberant comments. :) They are true heroes, and I believe I am going to search through my papers and see what else I can find, maybe letters written by the veterans themselves.

The grandchildren (and their parents) will be here in a couple of hours for a cookout. So my weekend is going to be great...hope yours is as well. :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

It is so interesting how one piece of work can lead to another and before we know it, whole lives are affected. On many levels, this was a beautiful write!


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phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Audrey -- You are absolutely correct. Twenty years ago when researching for my dissertation, I never dreamed of the connections that might develop over distance and time. The connections that have developed in the last six months alone at HP have amazed me. I have been contacted by people who knew my Polish grandmother 30 or 40 years ago, after I published hubs on her art work and more recently a couple of children of the veteran's that I interviewed in the mid 1990s have contacted me. It has been quite amazing. Thank you for your kind words and for recognizing the several levels. Take care. ~~ Theresa


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

I saw this hub before but never read it. Sometimes letters are a dull thing... But not in this case.! Amazing and great! You did a great research job for the science but much more you did for veterans daughter. This is actually a rare situation when science can help us in a real life!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Pavlo -- You are so right, sometimes letters can be pretty dull. :) It was a rare and wonderful situation where the original research for the graduate school project and dissertation ended up being the connecting link to a woman who hoped to know more about her father. I was thrilled when she made contact with me. :) Thanks for your generous and encouraging comments. Hope you have a great week. :)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

What a wonderful way to tell a story and keep those memories alive, you really should publish a book. A great read.


Vanderleelie profile image

Vanderleelie 4 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

I thoroughly appreciate your efforts to document and share WWII experiences that provide valuable lessons for all of us. My husband is a survivor of the worst years of suffering in occupied Holland. The war permanently affected so many lives - civilian and military - and challenged people to be patient, courageous and hopeful in spite of miserable conditions. Your hub exemplifies a respectful approach to recording and remembering that history.


Louise Jeffers 4 years ago

I've been away from the computer for a few months and I'm amazed to see so many posts resulting from my original request to you about my Dad, Henry D Soderberg. I wanted to let you and everyone else know who might be in the Philadephia area this weekend, that my friend Ed is having a special Veterans' Day program honoring the African American Soldiers who were liberators or the concentration camps as well as those who were members of a special unit called The Red Ball Express. Guest Speaker is Dr Leon Bass one of the African American Soldiers. A special presentation will be made to Dr Bass by Mr Arthur Seltzer who fought in The Battle of the Bulge and was a liberator. This will be held at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, 1001 Remington Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096. Sunday, 11/11/12 at 1 PM. If you need further information please email me at htown1955@gmail.com. Thank you again for all the wonderful posts, it's so nice to be able to share the information we have from our own personal connections to what surely is, The Greatest Generation. Happy Veterans' Day to all, and a big THANK YOU to all who served or are serving this great country.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Vanderleelie. I am glad your husband survived and I am always amazed at what people are able to face and deal with when confronted with evil and oppression. I appreciate your comments. I have consciously tried to be both honest, inclusive, and respectful in telling the history of the people involved in that horrible time.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Evening Louise. Good to hear from you. It has been very encouraging to see how many people remember and care. Our veterans, those who have gone on, are not forgotten and their sacrifice is honored.

The special Veteran's Day program sounds wonderful. I am familiar with Dr. Leon Bass, having read about him in the past while doing research. Thank you for letting us know about it. I am in Atlanta of course, but there are Hubbers everywhere. Hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving. Take care. Theresa

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