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Ray Gock oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (13 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (12 p.)
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsch (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
Interview conducted November 30, 2008.
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.
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.
This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Roy Gock. Gock was a member of the 14th Armored Division, which liberated Ampfing, a sub-camp of Dachau, on May 3, 1945. He joined the division as a replacement in late April 1945. The camp was actually entered by another company from the 14th, while Gock and his unit waited for them to return; though Glock himself never went through the gates, he did see the prisoners coming out. He also spoke with one of the former inmates who had been an Air Force pilot and shared his rations with him.
Armored Division, 14th.
Armored Division, 14th
v Personal narratives.
Dachau (Concentration camp)
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945
Crimes against humanity.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center.
University of South Florida.
Special & Digital Collections.
Oral History Program.
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects.
Concentration camp liberators oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
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, 20 1 0 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 copyrig hted 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. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Michael Hirsh: Okay, your name is Roy Gock, G-o-c-k?
Roy Glock: Yeah, thats correct.
MH: Whats your address, please?
RG: Thats correct.
MH: And whats your date of birth?
RG: February 26, 1920.
MH: You were with the 14th Armored Division?
MH: Which unit?
RG: I was with the 68th Armored Infantry, Company A.
MH: 68th Armored Infantry. What was your rank when you were in the service?
RG: (laughs) PFC [Private First Class].
MH: Okay, where were you before you went in the Army?
RG: Oh, I was at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, going to Signal Corps school. And then I was transferredin fact, I missed the Battle of the Bulge because I was home during Christmas. And then I was sent to Texas for a second time infantry training, and then went overseas.
MH: Where did you grow up?
RG: I grew up in Oakland.
MH: In Oakland, okay. And you were drafted into the Army?
RG: No, I enlisted.
MH: Okay, how old were you when you enlisted?
RG: Oh, my goodness.
MH: Or what year?
RG: Nineteen forty-two, I think, I enlisted.
MH: You were about twenty-two years old.
RG: Yeah, right.
MH: When did you get to Europe?
RG: Some time in March of forty-five .
MH: You got there almost at the very end of the war.
RG: Oh, yeah, I was lucky, lucky all the way.
MH: You went as a replacement, then?
RG: Yeah, as a replacement.
MH: You joined the 14th Armored Division.
MH: 68th Armored Infantry Division.
RG: We landed in Le Havre, I think, and then the column was going so fast, we couldnt catch up with them.
MH: Where did you finally catch them?
RG: I mustve caught them somewhere just after Moosberg, I think, just north of Munich. In fact, I was in Munich before I went into the column.
MH: So, you got to them at the end of April?
RG: Yeah, end of April, thats correct.
MH: Okay. What did you know about the concentration camps at that point?
RG: Well, you know, it just happened to be thatI think somewhere around April, end of April, my company was spearheading, and then we went back to combat reserve. And then, the Company B went up ahead. We saw them at the concentration camp at Ampfing. And we were waiting on the river for somebody to come out, and who came up? General [George S.] Patton.
MH: He came to the camp at Ampfing?
RG: Yeah, we came up. I think Company B was the liberators of the camp, and then we saw these people came out with pajamas, and we didnt know what the hell they were.
MH: What did you think?
RG: Well, I thought these people were something in detention, thats all.
MH: You hadnt been told anything at all about
RG: No, we went through anything and we didnt know anything.
MH: Did you go into the camp?
RG: No, I didnt go into the camp because we had to cross the river, the Inn River.
MH: The Inn River? And the camp was on the other side?
RG: No, the camp was on the same side before we cross.
MH: How long were you around Ampfing, then?
RG: Well, I would say about five hours.
MH: Did you have a chance to talk to any of these people?
RG: There was an Air Force pilot that came out of the prison camp, and I gave him some of my C ration, and he was very happy to see us.
MH: What did he tell you?
RG: He said, Im sure glad to see you guys.
MH: What kind of shape was he in?
RG: He was in good shape. But the other prisoners, the others were so scrawny, and the funny thing, they didnt beg for anything.
MH: Really? I wouldve thought theyd have been asking for food.
RG: No, they didnt. They were very proud.
MH: Could you tell what language they were speaking?
RG: No, I didnt.
MH: What kind of a day was this?
RG: It was kind of a cloudy day.
MH: This would be spring in Germany.
RG: Well, it snowed May 1.
MH: Oh, okay.
MH: What else do you remember? You never went into the camp?
RG: No, we couldnt go. I mean, we have to stay in the half-track, and we have to go across the river.
MH: What else do you remember about that day?
RG: The peoplethe Germans were running around, scared to death.
MH: Was there any shooting going on in that area?
RG: No, not at that time.
MH: You had mentioned you got to Mhldorf, too.
RG: I beg your pardon?
MH: You got to Mhldorf as well?
RG: Neudorf, yeah. We stayed in Neudorf, right outside Neudorf.
MH: Okay, and is that where Ampfing was?
RG: Ampfing was down the road. I have a map. You know, my sergeant had a map, a roadmap of a German service station roadmap. We fought the war with that map.
MH: With a German service station roadmap.
MH: Thats like using a Texaco map to fight a war in the United States.
RG: Yeah, same thing, like these gas station maps. I still have a copy of it.
MH: You didnt see the concentration camp at Muhldorf, then.
RG: No, I didnt, Im sorry. Were lucky; we stay in the half-track and went across the river.
MH: What happened when you went across the river?
RG: Well, that was an incident where the tanks were stacked up with sandbags, because the German 88s were punching holes through them, and Patton was there, and he ordered them to be taken off. And they were bitching all the way.
MH: Where did they have the sandbags?
RG: Right on the side of the tank. And then the second thing I do remember was the medics were scraping the red cross off of the helmets, because the Germans were shooting them.
MH: Nice. Even at the end of the war?
RG: Even at the end of the war, yeah.
MH: Did you ever run into any SS?
RG: Yes, I didnt go over into one, but one night, my other party was on guard duty, and they stopped two SS officers and they had to take them as prisoners. And then, about four oclock in the morning, the lieutenant woke me up and said, Youre going on guard duty. Guard these two men, and if they make a move, you shoot them.
MH: Did they make a move?
RG: No, they didnt make a move at all. Two hours.
MH: Too bad. (RG laughs) I understand from talking to a lot of guys that after they saw the concentration camps, they didnt take SS prisoners.
RG: They didnt, huh?
RG: We had to cross the river. Well, you know, you gotta keep going. You couldnt stop anywhere you wanted to stop.
MH: Where were you when the war ended?
RG: I was transferred sometime in August, I was transferred to the 45th Infantry Division.
MH: On V-E Day, where were you?
RG: V-E Day, I was in a little town somewhere near Velden, I think.
MH: In Austria?
RG: Yeah, in fact, it was right by Neudorf, somewhere around that area.
MH: Oh, okay. Then you got transferred to the 45th Infantry?
MH: Did you like that better than armored? Or did you like armored better?
RG: Oh, heres a whole story. When I got to the 45th, I became the regimental colonels orderly. I took the job because the company commander said, If you take the job, you wont have to fight in Japan.
MH: Sounded like a good deal at the time.
RG: Oh, it was very good.
MH: When did you get out of the service?
RG: I got out in December 1945.
MH: Okay, and went back to the Bay area?
RG: Yeah, back to the Bay area.
MH: Whatd you do there?
RG: I went back to school.
RG: At Berkeley.
MH: At Berkeley.
MH: You get your degree there?
RG: Yes, I did.
MH: In what?
RG: In mechanical engineering.
MH: Is that what you did for most of your life?
RG: No, I went into business and then I became a civil engineer.
MH: Okay. Anything else you can remember about the Ampfing situation?
RG: Ampfing situation, not very much, because we were just on the move. And you couldnt stop. We were stopped because we were waiting for Patton to come up and inspect the pontoon bridge.
MH: At any time, you didnt see any displaced people or former prisoners walking on the roads, did you?
RG: No, no, there was nobody around. Theres a war going on.
MH: When the Germans started taking them on death marches
RG: No, no, we didnt see that. The whole thing was in an uproar because the prisoners were out, running around, you know.
MH: Were they trying to keep them in the camp or were they just letting them go?
RG: They were just letting them go. They were free to walk wherever they want.
MH: Was it just men, or men and women?
RG: What I saw was just men.
MH: Anything else you can think of?
RG: Well, you know, somehow I was lucky to save a copy of the Stars & Stripes, and it had a little article about Ampfing, you know. Thats how I was aware of where I was and I was aware that this was a concentration camp.
MH: What did the article say?
RG: I havent read it for a while, but it mentioned it was a prison camp where they kept people there.
MH: You didnt take any pictures there, did you?
RG: No, I didnt take a picture at Ampfing, but I took pictures at Berchtesgaden.
MH: Thats a whole other story.
RG: Yeah, thats another story.
MH: Thank you very much.
RG: I dont think I could help you much, but I saw the article and it mentioned about Ampfing and Muhldorf, and I was there.
MH: I appreciate your calling. Whats the nickname of the 14th Armored Division?
RG: They call them the Liberators.
MH: The Liberators, okay. Thank you very much, sir. I really appreciate it.
RG: Youre welcome. Nice talking to you.
MH: Nice talking with you. Bye-bye.