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John P. Brooks oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
John P. Brooks oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (9 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Brooks, John P., 1924-
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 )
Concentration camps -- History -- Austria   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Austria   ( 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 John P. Brooks. Brooks was a soldier in the 65th Infantry Division, which liberated Flossenbürg on April 21, 1945; he also was at Ohrdruf and went to Mauthausen after the war was over. As part of a reconnaissance platoon, his job was to scout the surrounding area, so Brooks did not directly enter the camp. While on the road, he and his comrades did encounter groups of displaced persons, possibly even prisoners on death marches. After the war, he was sent to Hörsching, Austria, a suburb of Linz where there was a small camp.
Venue:
Interview conducted September 5, 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.
Language:
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.
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 - 024823125
oclc - 647157149
usfldc doi - C65-00012
usfldc handle - c65.12
System ID:
SFS0022071:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
segment
idx 0
time 00:00:0.0
text Michael Hirsh: Your name is John P. Brooks, B-r-o-o-k-s?
1
00:00:3.7
John Brooks:        Correct.
2
00:00:4.7
MH: And whats your date of birth?
3
00:00:6.2
JB: 7-4-24 [July 4, 1924].
4
00:00:8.3
MH: And you were with thewhat unit in the 65th Infantry Division were you in?
5
00:00:11.7
JB: I was with Recon [Reconnaissance].
6
00:00:12.7
MH: With Recon? Where were you before you went in the service?
7
00:00:18.7
JB: Where was I? What do you mean by that?
8
00:00:22.3
MH: Where were you living, what were you doing?
9
00:00:24.2
JB: I was a student in high school in Saltville.
10
00:00:29.0
MH: In where?
11
00:00:30.7
MH: In Saltville, Virginia.
12
00:00:32.0
MH: Okay. So, when did you finally go in the Army?
13
00:00:38.1
JB: I didnt plan. I was drafted.
14
00:00:40.4
MH: Okay, when were you drafted?
15
00:00:43.5
JB: You ask me questions (inaudible). (laughs)
16
00:00:48.1
MH: Thats okay.
17
00:00:49.7
JB: Oh, lets see. I guess I went in in forty-three [1943].
18
00:00:54.3
MH: In forty-three [1943]. You took basic training where?
19
00:01:1.9
JB: I took basic training with the 99th [Infantry] Division.
20
00:01:5.0
MH: Okay. Howd you end up in the 65th?
21
00:01:9.1
JB: Well, when I finished my basic in Mississippi, I got transferred to the 65th.
22
00:01:20.6
MH: And did you go overseas with them?
23
00:01:24.8
JB: Yes, I did.
24
00:01:25.8
MH: Do you remember where you left from and where you went to?
25
00:01:31.3
JB: Left from New York City and landed in Le Havre, France.
26
00:01:35.0
MH: And when was that?
27
00:01:37.5
JB: That was in, uh
28
00:01:42.0
MH: It was in late forty-four [1944]?
29
00:01:43.5
JB: Late forty-four [1944], yeah.
30
00:01:44.8
MH: What was the first battle you were in?
31
00:01:48.4
JB: Well, I think Strth was the first battle with the 65thI mean that the whole Division was in. As far as Recon, I cant truthfully say we were in any battles. I mean, after the Battle of the Bulge, everything wasyou know, more or less the war was almost over. And it was just clean up, occupancy.
32
00:02:26.7
MH: What wasthe document I have says that you got to two different concentration camps, Ohrdruf and Flossenbrg. Is that right?
33
00:02:36.5
JB: Ohrdruf, I remember that one. But Flossenbrg, I dont recall that.
34
00:02:41.2
MH: Can you tell me about Ohrdruf and what you remember about it?
35
00:02:46.8
JB: All I can tell you about it is, actually, we didnt know what it was. When wewhat Im doin now is speaking for my platoon, not talking for the whole division or the whole Recon.
36
00:03:3.5
MH: I understand.
37
00:03:4.8
JB: We rolled by it, and actually, we didnt know what we were lookin at, cause wed never heard about it. We got credit for the liberation, but I dont recall, you know, that we opened the gates or anything. We were on a mission, so we had to keep going.
38
00:03:28.1
MH: Thats the story I hear from lots of guys, is that theyd see camps and it was like, There it is, and they had to keep going. So, you never went inside?
39
00:03:37.8
JB: No, I never went into that camp, inside. I mean, a lot of the guys from our division were ordered by [Dwight D.] Eisenhower to go take a look. But, like I said, we were on a mission, so we just didnt get back to that part.
40
00:04:3.5
MH: Did you get to another camp, then, eventually?
41
00:04:10.4
JB: I went to Mauthausen after the war, and looked around that camp.
42
00:04:19.1
MH: But during the war, before
43
00:04:21.5
JB: No, no, no. What Im telling you is that Ohrdruf, I remember that one distinctly.
44
00:04:25.4
MH: But you werent with the 65th when they got to Flossenbrg.
45
00:04:29.6
JB: Yeah, I was with the 65th, butI dont think you quite understand what Im saying here. Recondo you know what Recon does in battle, I reckon?
46
00:04:43.3
MH: Youre usually out in front of the main unit looking around.
47
00:04:47.2
JB: There you go. So, no, to answer your question.
48
00:04:53.9
MH: Just one other question: you didnt see any of the marches of any of the prisoners from those camps on the roads as you were out with Recon, did you?
49
00:05:10.7
JB: There were so many displaced people out there; you didnt know one from the other.
50
00:05:16.1
MH: Really? And this is before the end of the war or after?
51
00:05:19.0
JB: No, this was during the war.
52
00:05:20.5
MH: During the war?
53
00:05:21.3
JB: Yeah.
54
00:05:22.0
MH: When you say there were so many of them, what do you see? Youre riding around in what, half-tracks or jeeps?
55
00:05:29.6
JB: Im in an armored car.
56
00:05:32.2
MH: Armored car, okay. And when you see these people on the roads, what do you see? What do they look like?
57
00:05:38.3
JB: Well, they look like theyre ready for the concentration camps. After the warlet me run this by you.
58
00:05:47.3
MH: Sure.
59
00:05:48.4
JB: I guess it was a week. When the war ended, we were sent back to a place called Hrsching, Austria.
60
00:05:56.1
MH: Okay. What was the name of the place?
61
00:05:59.3
JB: Hrsching. H-o-r-s-c-h-i-n-g.
62
00:06:2.0
MH: Okay.
63
00:06:3.4
JB: Thats what they call the Linz Airport today. And there was a camp there. It was not a concentration camp, but it was just people that were getting prepared to go to a concentration camp. You couldthey looked like theyd already been, you know, underfed, no hygiene, any of that stuff. Thats about all I can remember about it.
64
00:06:37.3
MH: When did you see that?
65
00:06:38.9
JB: This was in forty-five [1945].
66
00:06:41.4
MH: But just before or after the war ended?
67
00:06:43.7
JB: This was about two weeks after.
68
00:06:46.0
MH: Two weeks after. All right. You dont happen to know any other people who were in the division who might have been in units that spent any time in some of the camps, do you?
69
00:06:58.7
JB: I know one fella thatshes had several piecesexcuse me just a minute.
70
00:07:12.3
MH: Sure.
71
00:07:13.5
JB: In our organization that has written quite a few papers on it. I can give you his name, if you like.
72
00:07:25.5
MH: Thatd be very helpful. Id appreciate that.
73
00:07:27.7
JB: Well, give me time to get my
74
00:07:29.0
MH: Okay.
75
00:07:34.6
JB: Where are you located?
76
00:07:35.5
MH: Im in Punta Gorda, Florida.
77
00:07:36.7
JB: Oh, yeah?
78
00:07:37.9
MH: Im where Hurricane Charley hit four years ago, and where we just got messed with by a tropical storm last week.
79
00:07:47.6
JB: I worked in Florida back in the fifties [1950s].
80
00:07:51.4
MH: Yeah?
81
00:07:55.6
JB: All right, let me get back out here where I can see this thing.
82
00:07:57.7
MH: Okay.
83
00:08:9.2
JB: Just a sec.
84
00:08:10.2
MH: Sure.
85
00:08:15.8
JB: Theres a fella down in Florida that has written a lot about this stuff. Okay, this guys name is Leo Serian.
Leo Serian was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00125.
L-e-o, Leo, S-e-r-i-a-n. is his address, his telephone number is.
86
00:08:34.2
MH: And he was in the 65th, or you just know him from something?
87
00:08:37.9
JB: He was in the 65th.
88
00:08:38.7
MH: 65th, okay.
89
00:08:39.9
JB: We bothboth of us were responsible for getting that flag in the Holocaust Museum.
90
00:08:49.0
MH: Okay. All right. Well, I will track him down, then. Thank you very much for your time. I sure appreciate it.
91
00:08:56.4
JB: Youre welcome.
92
00:08:57.1
MH: Okay. Bye, sir.
93
00:08:57.8
JB: 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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This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator John P. Brooks. Brooks was a soldier in the 65th Infantry Division, which liberated Flossenbrg on April 21, 1945; he also was at Ohrdruf and went to Mauthausen after the war was over. As part of a reconnaissance platoon, his job was to scout the surrounding area, so Brooks did not directly enter the camp. While on the road, he and his comrades did encounter groups of displaced persons, possibly even prisoners on death marches. After the war, he was sent to Hrsching, Austria, a suburb of Linz where there was a small camp.
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