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Fred Abraham oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Fred Abraham oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (38 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Abraham, Fred, 1926-
Hirsh, Michael, 1943-
University of South Florida Libraries -- Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center
University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Concentration camps -- History -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Liberation   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Atrocities   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Veterans -- United States   ( lcsh )
Veterans -- Interviews -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genocide   ( lcsh )
Crimes against humanity   ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Fred Abraham. Abraham was a member of the 45th Infantry Division when it liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. Born in Germany, he and his family came to the United States in 1940; his father was in Buchenwald in 1938, but was released after four weeks. Abraham was drafted in 1944 and participated in the Rhineland Campaign and the Central Europe Campaign, the experiences of which he describes in the interview. While en route to Munich, the 45th and 42nd Infantry Divisions were redirected to Dachau. Abraham was on a reconnaissance patrol, and recognized it as a concentration camp when he saw the sign "Arbeit macht frei" on the gate; as a Jewish German whose father had been in a camp, he had prior knowledge of concentration camps, unlike many of the American soldiers. He also participated in the liberation of Allach, a subcamp of Dachau, before finding the main camp.
Venue:
Interview conducted April 12, 2008.
Preferred Citation:
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, ©2010 Michael Hirsh.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
General Note:
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsch (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 021795062
oclc - 586097907
usfldc doi - C65-00001
usfldc handle - c65.1
System ID:
SFS0022063:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text
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text MH: Okay. Before I start, could youwhats your birthday?
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00:00:3.6
FA: February 9, 1926.
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MH: Okay, and let me just put your name on the tape. Your name is Fred Abraham, A-b-r-a-h-a-m?
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FA: Where are you located?
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MH: Im in Punta Gorda, Florida.
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FA: Somebody else called me from Florida the other day, who wanted to know.
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MH: Um
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FA: It wasnt you, was it?
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MH: I might have left a message. Im not sure.
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FA: I dont know.
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MH: Okay. So, did you know anything about the camps before you got to Dachau?
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FA: Yes, my father in 1938 was in Buchenwald.
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MH: Your father was in Buchenwald?
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FA: Yeah, for about four weeks. I lived in Germany.
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MH: Okay.
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FA: I only got out in 1940.
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MH: You got out in 1940 and came to the U.S.?
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FA: Yes.
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MH: Then how did you end up in the Army going back?
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FA: I was drafted.
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MH: Oh. Were you a citizen?
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FA: When I was drafted, no; they made me a citizen in the Army.
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MH: Oh, so they made you a citizen before you went over to Germany again?
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FA: Yeah.
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MH: I see. Your family lived where in Germany?
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FA: Different places. The last place was Giessen, Germany.
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MH: In Giessen?
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FA: Yeah. You ever heard of it?
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MH: I have heard of it, because I know some guys who were there. Ive interviewed a couple people who were there during the war.
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FA: What do you mean, during the war?
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MH: They were with the Americans who got to Giessen.
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FA: Oh, yeah. Who were in the American Army?
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MH: Yes.
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FA: Occupation, or what?
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MH: No, during the war.
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FA: During the war, no, I didnt get near there.
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MH: No, you didnt, but other Americans did.
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FA: Yeah, different outfit.
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MH: Right. How did your father get out of Buchenwald?
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FA: They let him out. They let most of them out. They put a lot of Jews into Buchenwald. Some of them died there, some they kept, and some they let out.
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MH: When he was in Buchenwald, where were you?
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FA: In Giessen.
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MH: You were in Giessen.
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FA: Yeah, I was thirteen years old then.
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MH: And when they let him out, did he come back to Giessen, or did he go directly to the U.S.?
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FA: Went back to Giessen.
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MH: Okay. And it wasnt unusual for them to let him out?
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FA: No, they worked minefields at that time, most of them.
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MH: Then how were you able to get permits to come to the U.S.?
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FA: We got visas in 1940; our quota came due. We went to the American Consulate that was located in Stuttgart, Germany, and they sent our passports.
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MH: Wow. And then how did you go to the U.S.?
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FA: By way of Italy, by way of Genoa.
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MH: And you went to where?
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FA: To New York.
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MH: To New York. Did you have relatives in New York?
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FA: Distant ones.
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MH: Distant ones. So, then you went to school in New York and then got drafted.
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FA: Yeah.
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MH: And you were how old when you got drafted?
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FA: Eighteen.
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MH: Eighteen. And
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FA: I had my nineteenth birthday in a little place called Reipertswiller, which is in Alsace-Lorraine.
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MH: There was a big battle there with the 45th [Infantry Division].
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FA: Yeah, I was a replacement for that battle; a lot of guys got lost there. We were allwell, I would say 99 percent of us were replacements for the guys who originally started; in a rifle company, you dont last that long. And we were dug in at Reipertswiller, and then they pulled us back and we came on line again, and they pulled us back from there. Reipertswiller was in the area of Bitche-Hagenau, if you have a map in front of you.
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MH: I dont have it in front of me, but Ill find it. What was the name of the place?
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FA: R-e-i-p-e-r-t-s, I think.
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MH: Right, Reiperts
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FA: Like all those Alsace and all that. The last syllable is willer, an old German word for town or whatever.
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MH: Okay. So, when the unit left Reipertswiller, then
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FA: We were pulled back from the line for additional training, then we pushed off in March.
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MH: And you were heading toward Munich.
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FA: No, no.
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MH: No?
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FA: Not directly. We pushed off to the Saar [River] basin near (inaudible).
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MH: Okay. Just take me from there all the way to Dachau. What was going on?
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FA: Well, there was a main battle there. We crossed the Main River, and we captured a railroad bridge near Aschaffenburg and started going into Aschaffenburg with very heavy fighting. It was a miserable battle: up the hill, down the hill; up the hill, down the hill. We came under tremendous mortar fire and rifle fire and what have you.
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MH: Were you hit at all?
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FA: No. I had the straps on my pack cut, though. I had a little case ofa concussion, and the company commander begged me to stay with the outfit because I was the only guy in the outfit that could read, write and was fluent in German to question prisoners.
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MH: Were you taking lots of prisoners?
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FA: We took plenty of them.
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MH: Okay. What did you do with them?
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FA: Question them.
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MH: And then what?
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FA: Send them back.
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MH: Okay, so they were sent back to the rear?
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FA: Yeah. We couldnt (laughs) handle them.
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MH: So thenafter Aschaffenburg, then whats next for you?
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FA: Oh, I forgot to tell you. Before we came to Aschaffenburg, we hit the Siegfried Line. There we had very heavy losses. Our company started off with about 175 men, and the next day we had only 60 walkers, that were able to walk back.
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MH: How did you deal with that, personally?
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FA: What do you mean how I dealt with it? I was a machine-gunner, besides everything else. I can only see whats in front of me; I dont know whats going on around me. We came under a lot of fire there, heavy stuff. Artilleryyou know, pillboxes, you name it. Tanks, (inaudible).
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MH: The kinds of enemy fire that you people came underI mean, it amazes me that you come out of there not crazy. I was in Vietnam; Ive been under mortar fire, but nothing like you people had.
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FA: Well, we not only had mortar fire, we had the heavy stuff. They sounded like a freight train coming in. They would rip out an oak tree in front of me the size ofa diameter of at least a meterand rip it right out of the ground. The old-timers who were at Anzio used to call that the Anzio Express. I understand it was a 280mm railroad gun that they fired from a tunnel maybe ten, fifteen miles away.
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MH: Right. Ive seen pictures of it.
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FA: Well, Ive never seen pictures, but thats what the understanding was. Well, guys wentdid go, you know, shell-shocked. Not too many of them, but they did. You hear that stuff come in, and the 88s, you dont hear come in.
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MH: The 88s you dont hear coming?
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FA: No, theyre too high velocity. You dont hear a mortar shell either, unless theyre very heavy ones.
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MH: Well, you hear them blowing up.
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FA: You hear them blow up, sure, but you dont hear them come in. The sound, you know, (makes sound effect).
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MH: We used to hear (makes different sound effect).
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FA: Thats it, and they blow. You dont even have enough time to duck sometimes. It depends on what the caliber is; the Germans had a heavy caliber 120mm youd have heard. And then you heard Screaming Mimis come in; they called that that the Nebelwerfer. The fog thrower, it was translated word for word. They threw white phosphorus.
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MH: They were called Screaming Mimis, but what was the other word, the German word?
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FA: Nebelwerfer. They were six barrel.
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MH: Okay. I understand.
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FA: Now, the Germans, when you took prisoners and questioned them, they also had a name who were on the so-called Eastern Front, what they called, that were under fire from the Russian rockets. They called that the Stalinorgel, the Stalingrad Organ; they sounded like an organ coming in. Oh, they were terrified of that.
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MH: When theyd launch a barrage, how long would they last?
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FA: It varied.
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MH: So, it could be short, or it could keep you down for hours?
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FA: There were all kinds of barrages: barrages to stop you, barrages to harass you, barrages that could be very accurate. So, we were crossing, they knew exactlythey were all zeroed in on that. Pretty determined, you know.
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MH: When your unit suffers heavy casualties like that, do they pull you back, or do they have to keep you moving forward?
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FA: It depends how bad things are. They pulled us back the next day. We were there overnight; we repulsed the counter-attack.
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MH: Tell me a little bit about what thats like.
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FA: They try to come in on you.
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MH: How close did they get?
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FA: Who the hell knows? I fired my machine gun, and that didnt always stop whats coming in.
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MH: How much ammunition do you have available for a machine gun? Would you have somebody carrying?
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FA: Oh, yeah, plenty; we had plenty of canisters of 250 rounds. But a light machine gun you cant fire forever, though; the barrel burns out. And to change our barrels takes a half-hour, whereas the German machine gun, they changed it in twelve seconds. They had better small arms than we did.
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MH: Was this a water-cooled or an air-cooled gun youre firing?
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FA: Air-cooled. A light is air-cooled.
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MH: A light is air-cooled?
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FA: Heavy is water-cooled. Same caliber.
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MH: Its .30 caliber?
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FA: Yeah.
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MH: Okay. So, what happens next in the war for you, after that?
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FA: After that, they pulled us back.
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MH: And how soon after that did you move on to Dachau?
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FA: We fought our way through Germany first, the heavy fighting; that took about ten days at Aschaffenburg. Uphill, downhillthose are the mountains on the Main River; we couldnt get in. We thought we could go through there, but we supposedly took 10,000 prisoners alone. There were days when we had the Air Force and bombed them, and when they bombed, they went into their cellars. You know, thats wine country. They have the deep cellars there. Our artillery didnt penetrate those cellars, nor did the bombs.
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MH: So, howd you finally beat them there?
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FA: Well, after a while, they must have gotten sick and tired of being bombarded. They must have run out of ammunition, and out of food.
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MH: There was no problem getting supplies to the Americans, was there? You had plenty
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FA: I dont know about that. I ate K-rations for about six weeks straight. Damn crap.
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MH: (laughs) Did you gain weight
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FA: You know what they are?
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MH: Yes. Did you gain weight or lose weight when you went to Europe in the war?
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FA: I lost.
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MH: You lost?
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FA: I think we all lost. Believe it or not, I gained weight in basic training.
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MH: Really? Were you a skinny kid when you were drafted?
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FA: Yeah.
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MH: Whered they send you for basic?
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FA: Camp Blanding, Florida.
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MH: Which was near where?
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FA: It was inland in Florida, if you can picture a right angle(coughs) Excuse me. Between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, inland.
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MH: Oh, okay. I know exactly where it is, then.
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FA: Miserable part of Florida.
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MH: Yes.
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FA: Swamp and sand.
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MH: Right.
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FA: They didnt have Army camps on the beach.
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MH: This is true.
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FA: Not for the infantry.
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MH: So, you fight at Aschaffenburg, and then move out for where?
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FA: Nuremberg.
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MH: Lembeck?
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FA: Nuremberg, where the trials were.
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MH: Oh, yes, Nuremberg. Okay.
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FA: And we had house-to-house. We took one or two losses; we didnt take many losses there.
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MH: When theyre doing house-to-house fighting and youve got the machine gun, what are you doing?
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FA: I didnt have the machine gun then anymore, because at Aschaffenburg I caught some concussion. I couldnt carry any more. House-to-house fighting, you dont go in the middle of the street or run down the street. You blast your way from house to house with TNT, and thats that. You dont show your face. You hide.
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MH: How long did that last?
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FA: About two days, I think.
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MH: Was it still winter?
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FA: No.
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MH: No. So, the weather
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FA: It was nice by then.
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MH: It was nice?
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FA: Yeah. We got into Munich on May 1. About April 29 we hit Aschaffenburg. No, no, we hit
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MH: April 29, you hit Dachau.
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FA: Uh-huh.
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MH: So, tell me about coming to Dachau. Did you know the camp was going to be there?
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FA: When I saw Arbeit macht frei at the beginning of the gate, I knew it was a concentration camp. And I saw people in there, you know, with the pajamas on, and I knew something. I went back and I told the company we were at a concentration camp.
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MH: So, your company commander had sent you up to look at it and come back?
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FA: Yeah, a recon [reconnaissance] patrol.
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MH: Had other Americans gotten there ahead of you, or were you in the first bunch to get there?
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FA: As far as I know, we were the first to get there. The first ten men.
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MH: The first ten men.
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FA: Yeah, or so, that were with me.
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MH: You were coming in from the south side, or where the big Jourhaus Gate was?
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FA: Yeah.
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MH: Where the big gate was?
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FA: Yeah. There was a gate there, and to the left there was an SS hospital, for the SS and their wives and this and that.
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MH: Where was the train in relation to the gate?
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FA: Near the front gate.
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MH: Near the front gate. So, you came to the
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FA: We came to the train first. How do you know there was a train there?
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MH: Because Ive been talking to a lot of people, and Ive actually seen pictures.
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FA: Yeah, I got the division book here; they have pictures in there, too. Im sure youve seen that.
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MH: Yes. So, when you come to the train and you see that, what goes through your mind?
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FA: What can go through your mind? What kind of animals are there around here?
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MH: Okaygo ahead.
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FA: I knew that things like that were happening, so I was pretty well prepared to see it, but a lot of guys, they couldnt believe it.
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MH: A lot of the guysmost of the guys Ive talked to had no knowledge of concentration camps before showing up at one.
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FA: No, they didnt know. Thats right. Well, we hit a labor camp just before that, but there the guys were in pretty good shape, in Nuremberg, [a camp] called Allach, we liberated.
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MH: And that wasokay.
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FA: That was a labor camp. And they had mostly teenagers there working on whatever; at the BMW works, they were pulling out tanks, Tiger tanks.
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MH: Did you go into Allach?
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FA: No, I stood outside, but I talked to the guys. I met a guy whose uncle I knew in New York.
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MH: How do you end up figuring that out?
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FA: I spoke to him, and he told me his name, he has an uncle in New York and whats his name. I heard of the uncle, but I didnt know him. He was a chazzan in Washington Heights. And these guys there, they werethey raised the Star of David there. And I asked one of the guys, You guys want to come to the States? Oh. no, were going to fight for our home country. They were very Zionistically inclined there.
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MH: You said they were in good shapeis that because they hadnt been in the camp very long?
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FA: It was what the Germans called an Arbeitslager, or a work camp. So they had to feed them something.
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MH: But a lot of the Arbeitslagers, they just starved them to death.
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FA: In this one, they werent in such bad shape.
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MH: Okay. How long did your unit stay at Allach?
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FA: We kept right on going.
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MH: Thats something that Ive heard from nearly all the men Ive interviewed. Is that
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FA: Well, thats the thing: youre in the infantry, you chase the enemy. You cant let them get away, right?
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MH: Right. I mean, when you dont think about it from the context of being in a battle, you think you get to a place like that, you want to stay there, you want to do something, you want to help. And all the guys Ive talked to said
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FA: Well, what are you going to help with? I had a little package from home, one my parents sent me, almonds and some nuts and some raisins to eat. I gave them to the guys. I mean, I had extra watches I gave them that I took off prisoners. What else am I going to give?
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MH: Right. So, now come back
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FA: I have to keep my rations for myself. I have two, three rations, right?
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MH: Yes.
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FA: Because I have to keep going, too.
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MH: True. I mean, what do you say to the guy when you leave him at Allach? You know, this guy youve talked to?
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FA: You dont say much. Theyre happy to be liberated.
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MH: Were there still German guards there when you got there?
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FA: No. They took off.
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MH: They took off.
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FA: They took off out of Dachau, too.
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MH: Right. But at Dachau, was there shooting going on when you got there?
219
00:22:28.1
FA: A little.
220
00:22:29.5
MH: From your guys, once they got inside the camp.
221
00:22:33.1
FA: No, the prisoners were armed. Some of the guys gave the prisonersthey took away the German rifles that they left behind. They were armed, some of them. They had German rifles.
222
00:22:49.4
MH: I had heard that the prisoners were tracking down German guards who were
223
00:22:58.1
FA: Oh, they were looking for them, because some of themthere were some of them were caught. They were in uniform. They took good care of them, the prisoners. They had to obey the Geneva Convention laws.
224
00:23:13.9
MH: But some of them, I understand, the prisoners ripped apart.
225
00:23:19.7
FA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
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00:23:23.9
MH: Did you see any of this happening?
227
00:23:28.1
FA: Well, I dont like to talk about these things. Theyre too inhuman.
228
00:23:32.8
MH: Okay. When you got inside the gate, tell me about that.
229
00:23:40.0
FA: I got in about a hundred yards, and I pulled back with the rest of the guys. They warned us thatwe were not too far away from where they had typhus and typhoid and this and that, all kinds ofyou know, sicknesses. We didnt want to catch it, either. But anyway, at Dachau, I caught lice. Thats how close I came to them, the prisoners. They were all loused up and full of disease, some of these prisoners. You try to keepthey hug you, youre bound to catch lice.
230
00:24:18.1
MH: Yeah. Considering that you spoke good German, you probably had many conversations with the prisoners there?
231
00:24:27.4
FA: Not too much.
232
00:24:29.7
MH: Not too much?
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00:24:30.5
FA: Not too much.
234
00:24:31.7
MH: Do you remember talking to any of them?
235
00:24:34.1
FA: Oh, yeah.
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00:24:35.3
MH: Can you tell me about that?
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00:24:36.6
FA: No conversationthey were starved to deathunless they come to ask for cigarettes. You give them the cigarette, they light it, take two puffs, and they fall down. You couldnt even give them cigarettes. They hadnt smoked in a long time; they got nicotine poisoning. It was a sad situation.
238
00:25:0.8
MH: How do you deal with it? Do you cry?
239
00:25:3.1
FA: I didnt cry. Some guys possibly cried from what they saw. But that same evening, we kept going. Got there in the morning, by evening were on the goin the afternoon, were on the go again, (inaudible) going towards Munich.
240
00:25:23.6
MH: Before you left Dachau, did you go into any of the buildings?
241
00:25:27.1
FA: No.
242
00:25:28.9
MA: No.
243
00:25:29.5
FA: We were warned not to go in.
244
00:25:32.2
MH: How did
245
00:25:34.9
FA: The prisoners warned us, Dont go in.
246
00:25:36.5
MH: The prisoners warned you.
247
00:25:38.2
FA: Yeah. People are sick in there; you can catch something. But quite a few prisoners were still able to walk. A lot of them were unable, though. It was a sad situation in those barracks.
248
00:25:51.0
MH: Right. What kind of a day was it? Was it cloudy, sunny, rainy?
249
00:25:59.6
FA: Slightly cloudy, it wasnt raining. It was fairly clear.
250
00:26:6.0
MH: Does the camp smell bad at the time?
251
00:26:9.5
FA: I dont remember.
252
00:26:11.5
MH: Okay.
253
00:26:12.2
FA: It smelled outside where they had the train. Thats a certain smell thats impossible to describe. Its a sweet sort of smell. Ack! The smell of death.
254
00:26:28.0
MH: What else did you see there?
255
00:26:32.5
FA: Oh, they took some prisoners and put them up against the wall, and they shot em. We couldnt interfere with that.
256
00:26:44.6
MH: The prisoners were doing the shooting?
257
00:26:48.0
FA: Yes.
258
00:26:48.9
MH: When you say you couldnt interfere, tell me what its like. I mean, what do you see? Is there any consideration of maybe we should interfere, or this is
259
00:27:6.8
FA: Well, when you take prisoners, you sometimes like to take them alive to question them, of course. They can give you information that can be useful: What outfit are you in? How many in your outfit? How are they armed? How long have you been? But the German prisonerswhen we took them, we asked them in German, How many men in your outfit? They tell you, We just joined the outfit two days ago. But theres one thing you can find out: they all carried what they call a Soldbuch, a pay book. And in that book, it was noted in old German gothic script what outfit they were in and for how long. And I could read that.
260
00:27:53.6
MH: So, to come back to the prisoners lining these guys up, I mean, whatIm trying to get a sense of what the experience is like being there and seeing something like this. Are people screaming and yelling and shouting, or is this quiet?
261
00:28:15.2
FA: Oh, who remembers?
262
00:28:18.6
MH: Yeah?
263
00:28:19.8
FA: You watch and walk away, none of your business. I dont like to see people killed. We were not brought up that way. Bad enough to see what they did, very bad. Its unbelievable, what went on there.
264
00:28:44.6
MH: Ive talked to some other people who werent terribly upset seeing, you know, a German SS shot down.
265
00:28:56.4
FA: Well, they were not in uniform when we saw them, but they shot down our boys. We lost two guys that were wounded; we left them behind. We were riding on tanks in Germany, and the SS sneaked in behind us and killed them. So, we had no sympathy for the German SS.
266
00:29:16.9
MH: So, when you see this happening in the camp, your inclination is, as you said, Its not our business, walk away.
267
00:29:24.4
FA: Right. They did it to us.
268
00:29:26.9
MH: I was just sort of surprised that the prisoners were able to get a hold of weapons.
269
00:29:32.2
FA: I dont know where they got them from, but they got them. Most of them were German weapons; they were rifles.
270
00:29:40.7
MH: Im sorry, your unityou were inwhat battalion were you in?
271
00:29:45.9
FA: C Company is the first battalion. A-B-C-D is the first battalion, all of the time. 157th Infantry [Regiment].
272
00:29:55.0
MH: Of the 157th. So, after you saw these people shot, then what happens? Where do you go, what do you do?
273
00:30:4.6
FA: You do nothing. You wait for your next move. You always keep going.
274
00:30:12.3
MH: About what time of day did you leave Dachau?
275
00:30:18.3
FA: Early afternoon, I would say; we didnt stay there long.
276
00:30:23.5
MH: In a camp that size, when youre wandering around in it, how do they get you back together to say, Okay, its
277
00:30:29.8
FA: We didnt wander; we stood near the entrance. We found out that there were no Germans in there, we stood near the entrance. Whats the sense of wandering? When you walk all day, you get a little tired, too.
278
00:30:46.5
MH: When you finally left, are you riding in trucks or in jeeps?
279
00:30:51.0
FA: We rode in all kinds of vehicles: captured vehicles, trucks, whatever we got a hold of.
280
00:31:1.4
MH: What kind of captured vehicles did you guys get?
281
00:31:4.8
FA: German trucks. All kinds of crap.
282
00:31:10.1
MH: And you moved on from Dachau to
283
00:31:14.1
FA: On top of tanks, you know, infantry riding tanks to protect the tanks.
284
00:31:21.5
MH: Right. And then you moved on to Munich?
285
00:31:25.7
FA: Yeah. We had to cross the Danube [River], which we did. I crossed the Danube in one of those DUKWs
A DUKW, or duck, is an amphibious vehicle that allowed for land and water transportation.
, nearly got killed in that thing. The damn thing couldntgrab the line, land on the other side, a machine gun opened up not too far away.
286
00:31:49.0
MH: So, howd you get off the DUKW?
287
00:31:50.0
FA: Finally made landfall on the other side of the Danube. At that time of yearyou know, in Aprilthe Danube is not the blue Danube anymore.
288
00:32:1.9
MH: Its flowing very fast?
289
00:32:3.3
FA: Its a brown river, flowing fast, all the snow melting from the Alps and coming in from the tributaries.
290
00:32:11.8
MH: And you got into Munich?
291
00:32:18.9
FA: Yeah.
292
00:32:19.7
MH: How long was the fight there?
293
00:32:21.1
FA: Not very much.
294
00:32:24.6
MH: Not very much?
295
00:32:25.3
FA: The regimental headquarters was the Hofbruhaus [Staatliches Hofbruhaus in Mnchen]. Ever heard of that?
296
00:32:33.5
MH: Say that again?
297
00:32:35.2
FA: Our regimental headquarters was in the Hofbruhaus. You know, where Hitler launched his first push. A beer hall; very good beer. We liberated some kegs of beer.
298
00:32:54.0
MH: Theres got to be something good there.
299
00:32:58.9
FA: Oh, yeah, there were two warehouses full of the finest liquors and the finest stuff that we put guards on right away and used for ourselves.
300
00:33:10.9
MH: I was going to say, did you sample it?
301
00:33:12.2
FA: Oh, youre damn right!
302
00:33:13.4
MH: (laughs)
303
00:33:16.2
FA: Some of the guys were drunk for weeks, including myself.
304
00:33:18.7
MH: Is that where you were when the war ended?
305
00:33:21.6
FA: Yeah, in Munich. No, wait a minuteyeah, we came into Munich May 1. The war ended the eighth [May 8, 1945], and we were in Munich. We stayed in Munich for about six weeks, and they took us back. On the way home, we were supposed to go to fight the Japs.
306
00:33:41.5
MH: Thats what I heard, that the plan
307
00:33:44.9
FA: We trained. We went by way of France, one of the camps in France, and we shipped in at Le Havre. We were stationed near Reims, France.
308
00:33:58.4
MH: All right. Do you remember how long the boat ride was back to the U.S.?
309
00:34:4.3
FA: Hell no. About a week, I would say, less than a week.
310
00:34:9.1
MH: And where did you land?
311
00:34:11.3
FA: New York.
312
00:34:11.9
MH: In New York?
313
00:34:13.9
FA: We came back on a Victory ship.
314
00:34:16.6
MH: Okay. Landed in New York, and how much longer did you stay in the Army?
315
00:34:21.6
FA: Till the following June.
316
00:34:27.3
MH: For almost another year, you mean?
317
00:34:33.6
FA: No, it wasnt a year, it was less than; who the heck remembers?
318
00:34:38.5
MH: And what did you do once you were out of the service?
319
00:34:42.1
FA: I went to school and went to work. I went to work. Look, Im kind of tired. Ive got to go for dialysis in the morning, so
320
00:34:53.2
MH: Oh, okay. Let me just ask you two more questions. Did the experience you had over there, either with the camps or even in the war, affect you later on in life? Is it something that comes up?
321
00:35:8.1
FA: Oh, once in a while I think about it. You dont forget these things, because theyre so bad.
322
00:35:15.7
MH: You have nightmares?
323
00:35:17.8
FA: Not really. I was nineteen years old. I mean, when youre that age
324
00:35:23.6
MH: Okay. You got married when?
325
00:35:30.1
FA: In 1960.
326
00:35:32.9
MH: And you have kids?
327
00:35:35.1
FA: Yeah.
328
00:35:36.3
MH: What kind of job did you do?
329
00:35:41.2
FA: The main thing I did, I worked on Wall Street for a while, about twenty years tradingarbitraging securities.
330
00:35:52.5
MH: All right. Anything else you want to tell me?
331
00:35:58.0
FA: I dont know what you want to know.
332
00:36:0.8
MH: Im interested in what the experience was like and how it might have affected you later on in life.
333
00:36:9.2
FA: Oh, you dream about it and think about it once in a while. Think about some of the guys that came in with you and didnt come out with you, especially.
334
00:36:22.9
MH: Your experience of having been over there, born in Germany and especially having a father in Buchenwald wasIve never heard that before.
335
00:36:35.2
FA: Well. At eased my impression of Dachau, I knew pretty well what was going on.
336
00:36:45.4
MH: Right. Well, Im gladthank you for going, and Im glad you came back okay.
337
00:36:53.1
FA: (laughs) So am I!
338
00:36:54.2
MH: Do you have a photo of yourself from World War II?
339
00:36:57.1
FA: I have some around here; theyre misplaced. Im legally blind. I dont see the crap anymore. So, I have a problem. Im riddled with diabetes, and I go to dialysis three times a week.
340
00:37:13.3
MH: Ah, all right. Well, I thank you very, very much for taking the time to talk with me.
341
00:37:18.1
FA: Youre quite welcome. My wife insisted that I do. I wish you luck with your book.
342
00:37:24.7
MH: Whats your wifes name?
343
00:37:25.4
FA: Carol.
344
00:37:26.3
MH: Carol? With a C at the end, or no C? C-a-r-o-l?
345
00:37:31.7
FA: Yeah.
346
00:37:32.5
MH: Okay, thank you very, very much.
347
00:37:34.8
FA: Youre quite welcome. Bye-bye.
348
00:37:36.0
MH: Bye-bye.



PAGE 1

COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 201, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


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Fred Abraham oral history interview
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Concentration camp liberators oral history project
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This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsch (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
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Interview conducted April 12, 2008.
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This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Fred Abraham. Abraham was a member of the 45th Infantry Division when it liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. Born in Germany, he and his family came to the United States in 1940; his father was in Buchenwald in 1938, but was released after four weeks. Abraham was drafted in 1944 and participated in the Rhineland Campaign and the Central Europe Campaign, the experiences of which he describes in the interview. While en route to Munich, the 45th and 42nd Infantry Divisions were redirected to Dachau. Abraham was on a reconnaissance patrol, and recognized it as a concentration camp when he saw the sign "Arbeit macht frei" on the gate; as a Jewish German whose father had been in a camp, he had prior knowledge of concentration camps, unlike many of the American soldiers. He also participated in the liberation of Allach, a subcamp of Dachau, before finding the main camp.
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The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, 2010 Michael Hirsh.
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Transcripts, excerpts, or any component of this interview may be used without the author's express written permission only for educational or research purposes. No portion of the interview audio or text may be broadcast, cablecast, webcast, or distributed without the author's express written permission.
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