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Don Latimer oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Don Latimer oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (31 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Latimer, Don, 1918-
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:
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Germany   ( lcsh )
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Personal narratives   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Rescue   ( 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 Don Latimer. Latimer was a radio operator in the 36th Infantry Division's reconnaissance troop, which encountered a death train in the vicinity of Bad Tölz in late April 1945. The train had several boxcars, nailed shut, with many Jewish prisoners inside, some alive, some dead. Latimer remained in his armored car, staying in radio contact with the platoons and with headquarters, while his comrades opened the train doors. They gave the prisoners food, water, and medical treatment and continued on to Bad Tölz. Latimer describes the train encounter as one of the most traumatic events of the war for him. He did not see any other camps during the war but later visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Venue:
Interview conducted August 3, 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 - 024890945
oclc - 656362690
usfldc doi - C65-00074
usfldc handle - c65.74
System ID:
SFS0022124:00001


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Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.0 text MH: Youre Donald Latimer, L-a-t-i-m-e-r? 1 00:00:2.5 DL: Yeah.  Its not Donald; its plain old Don. 2 00:00:5.0 MH: Just Don.  Okay, whats your address, please? 3 00:00:7.6 DL: 4 00:00:9.1 MH: And your phone is. 5 00:00:10.4 DL: You got it. 6 00:00:13.6 MH: And whats your date of birth? 7 00:00:15.0 DL: June 16, 1918. 8 00:00:16.5 MH: June 16 is our anniversary.   9 00:00:20.1 DL: Oh, it is? 10 00:00:22.7 MH: And what unit were you in? 11 00:00:24.8 DL: I was in the 36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop.  That was the reconnaissance for the 36th Infantry Division, which originally was the Texas National Guard. 12 00:00:40.6 MH: What was their nickname? 13 00:00:41.7 DL: Im sorry. 14 00:00:43.2 MH: Did they have a nickname? 15 00:00:44.4 DL: Well, they called it the T Patcher. 16 00:00:46.1 MH: The T-Patcher? 17 00:00:47.6 DL: Yeah, T-Patcher because they wore a little T-patch, a shoulder patch, a little outline arrowhead on your shoulder with a blue background and T in the middle of it. 18 00:01:4.0 MH: Youd sent me an e-mail which describes what youd seen with this particular train, but you also mentioned youd seen other camps. 19 00:01:14.6 DL: Well, I hope I didnt say other camps.  Id seen other individuals.  I dont believe I ever saw another camp.  As we moved along, the German army was retreating, most of the time that we were in contact with them, which was a long time, and they often left behind these guys in prison uniforms with the Star of David on the back of them, and thatsI dont know that I ever saw any other prison camps.  I dont believe we did. 20 00:01:49.0 MH: But you saw the people with the Star of David on it? 21 00:01:51.4 DL: Yes, on their back. 22 00:01:52.6 MH: And they were where? 23 00:01:53.7 DL: Well, that wouldve been just about anywhere where we went, fromour first combat was in southern Italy, and wed see them quite often as the Germans would leave a position and wed move in.  Not a lot of times, but they were working for the Germans, I guess digging ditches and trenches and stuff like that, and theyd leave them quite frequently.  And Im guessing these guys, of course, took off as often as they could to get away from the Germans, of course. 24 00:02:28.3 MH: So, tell me about this train. 25 00:02:31.5 DL: Well, it was in late April; it mightve been early May.  We were going on a long reconnaissance.  Wed crossed the River Rhine at Ludwigshafen, Germany, and had not had much opposition, and were heading southeast.  At that time, the Germans were reported to be holding up in southern Germany, and they were going to try to hold out for an indefinite period of timethe German army, that is.  And we were going along, were the reconnaissance.  We were usually leading the division as far as the first people were concerned that came into contact with Germans.  Didnt have a lot of opposition.  SomewhereI think I told you it couldve been Dachau, but I looked on the map, and Dachau is too close to Munich for that to have been Dachau, because [we] never got into Munich.  We got real close, but never been to Munich.  We went on to a place called Bad Tlz. 26 00:03:40.7 MH: T--l-z. 27 00:03:41.9 DL: T--l-z.  Thats in southern Germany.  Its southwest from Munich and north of Innsbruck, Austria, maybe a little northeast of Innsbruck, Austria. 28 00:03:51.0 And we were doing the reconnaissance down the highway, leading for the division.  And, of course, Im a radio operator, a radio sergeant, and I was in an armored car.  I looked up, and there were guys getting out and going up toward this train, which was parked on a siding in some little town.  It seems to me like it mightve been closer to Landsberg.  I know we did go into Landsberg. 29 00:04:22.5 MH: But you think this is early in May. 30 00:04:26.6 DL: Well, probably more likely the end of April, because we got into Bad Tlz the second of May, and I know we were surprised.  It snowed like the dickens that day, the day we got into Bad Tlz, and we had run into quite a bit of opposition around Bad Tlz.  But this was a day or two before that.  And this trainor seemed like a half a dozen cars or more; they were boxcars.  They had nailedI guess the Germans had nailed boards across the doors and nailed them shut, and inside were these people who were the Germanwe called them German Jews, and they were in thisyou cant imagine what kind of shape, you know.  A good many of them were dead.  Some were half-dead, and women with kids, and they had no sanitary facilities.  And I understand theyd been nailed up in there for several weeks.   31 00:05:25.2 And all they had is a little straw to sleep on.  And the story was, now, I dont know this is true, and I think it wasnt, the German train crew had been shuttling back and forth from the east where the Russians were approaching and from the west where we were and finally had to abandon them and when we got there, the German train crew had disappeared.  I mean, nobody ever found them.  And I dont know if they were military train crew or civilians or what.   32 00:05:57.1 And we were the ones who were able to, out of these cars, and set up some tents and they came up, the medics came up, and some of the younger guys that were still in fairly good condition went into this little town.  This was a little village, and word came back that we had to go pick them up because they were trying to kill the Germans, any Germans who were left in the town.  Im talking about German civilians, and there were no civilians at that time in Germany except young kids and old people and women, because all the young guys had been put in the service, you know. 33 00:06:37.8 So, we rounded them up and put them into these tents, and they put some barbed wire around them, and they gave them rations, and the medics came up, and we left them.  Im sure we were not there more than a day with them, maybe less than that, and we went on our way. 34 00:06:57.8 MH: You were traveling in an armored car, you said? 35 00:07:2.4 DL: Yes, sir. 36 00:07:3.4 MH: So, you see this train parked on the main track or siding? 37 00:07:7.4 DL: I believe it was on a siding, as I recall. 38 00:07:9.4 MH: And can you hear things? 39 00:07:11.7 DL: Well, I dont recall.  Its been so long.  I dont recall hearing anything in particular, except some of the guys yelling, Theres people in the train, and stuff like that.  I didnt actuallyI got right up to the train, but I was working the radio all the time and could see everything, because you can lower the hatch down on those armored cars, and thats the way you got in and out of the cars, with the hatch.  And you can see everything thats going on. 40 00:07:38.8 MH: Tell me in as much detail as you can.  What you remember seeing?  You said theyd used boards to nail the doors shut? 41 00:07:46.2 DL: I remember seeing these boards.  This is before any Germans came out of the thing, when we first saw the train.  The boards were nailed across, maybe likeoh, looked like maybe 1-by-6s, maybe 2-by-6s, they nailed across the train doors.  They closed the doors and nailed the boards on them from the outside where itd be practically impossible for a person to get out.  And our guys in our outfit and, by that time, a lot of other 36th Division companies were up there, too, started prying the boards off the doors.  And they let the Germans out. 42 00:08:24.6 MH: Youre in the armored car talking on the radio at this point? 43 00:08:27.3 DL: Yes, I was on the radio all the time. 44 00:08:29.1 MH: Who are you talking to? 45 00:08:30.5 DL: Well, we talked to our division headquarters and to our platoons.  We had three platoons, and my job was to keep in radio contact with the three platoons and what they were doing, and then relay information back to division headquarters.  Sometimes regimental headquarters, but it was our headquarters we kept in contact.  That was the job we did, and we had two radio operators in the car: when you werent operating the radio, you were either a driver or a gunner or a car commander, and you alternated.  Well, twelve hours a day is what it amounted to. 46 00:09:8.9 MH: And these radios are permanently mounted in the cars?  Its not the big square guys? 47 00:09:13.4 DL: Yes, they were.  SCR, Service Corps Radio, I think its a 520, but Im not sure of that now.  They were permanent mounted in there, and we usedif we were in close range, we could use voice communications.  If we were very far away, we had to use CW [continuous wave], which is a dot-dash system. 48 00:09:38.4 MH: What were you using at this point? 49 00:09:42.0 DL: I think we were using voice, because we were pretty close to the platoons.  As I recall, we were.   50 00:09:48.3 MH: You see your guys ripping the boards off the train doors.  Did they have to use crowbars or 51 00:09:59.6 DL: I think they probably used some bars and things that came out of some of the trucks.  I dont recall.  They used to carry bars and stuff to use when theyre trying to get into a building or something, and most of those were carried in a wheel box on the armored cars.  We had huge wheel boxes on there, but I dont know what they were actuallythey werent designed for opening up railroad cars.  They were probably designed for getting into a house or knocking down a door on a house or something like that. 52 00:10:27.0 MH: These railroad cars were the old 40-by-8s? 53 00:10:31.0 DL: Yeah, the same size as the 40-by-8s, yeah.  The 40-by-8s were French cars, but I guess the German cars are about the same size. It was 40-and-8s is what they were: forty men or eight horses. 54 00:10:45.7 MH: Right, and sowhich I always found weird, that they would build freight cars to carry people.  I just thought that was strange. 55 00:10:56.1 DL: Well, it seems unusual, but they did that.  We rode a good many of those over the years in North Africa.  We rode them all the way from Sidi Bel Abbs [Algeria] to Rabat [Morocco] in those similar type cars.  We had straw in the cars, and we usually stopped at night, because we were out of combat at that time, but they were not exactly comfortable. 56 00:11:21.6 MH: Youre seeing the people break open the train cars, and how many cars did you think there were? 57 00:11:29.2 DL: Id guess six or eight.  I dont remember exactly.  And I dont recall the engine was even there; it mightve been, but I dont recall anything about the engine at all. 58 00:11:37.2 MH: So, they open it, and the peoplethey have to help the people out? 59 00:11:41.6 DL: Yeah, they have to help them out.  Some of the guys looked like they were in pretty good shape, and most of them had on these prison-type uniforms, but some of them had on regular civilian clothes.  They were pretty ragged.  They werent all in uniforms, as I recall. 60 00:11:55.3 MH: Were there dead people still in the cars? 61 00:11:57.8 DL: There were dead people, you could see them.  They looked like they were dead.  And Im sure they were dead, because they said theyd been in there several weeks. 62 00:12:5.4 MH: And so then the people come down.  Are they looking for food, for water? 63 00:12:15.1 DL: Theyre looking for anything, I think, and the ones that were able-bodied were certainly angry and perturbed, and we gave them food and water as quick as we could.  They didntthey got C rations, which is what we had, you know, but that to them probably tasted pretty good.  But I think when we got them in tents there they brought in a few kitchens, because that type of place there was no German opposition at all in that particular area that I recall.  The Germans had already moved on. 64 00:12:50.5 MH: Whats the conversation between the GIs at this point? 65 00:12:53.1 DL: Well, they were pretty doggone mad, angry over what had happened.  And as it occurred, probably just the last day or two of the war, where we came up to a little town called Lenggries, L-e-n-g-g-r-i-e-s, south of Bad Tlz.  Thats where we were when the war was over, right near there, and this little community on the river, I believe the Isar River, but Im not real sure, Ive forgotten the name of the river. 66 00:13:30.9 MH: Thats the I-s-a-r? 67 00:13:32.2 DL: Yes, thats what I believe it was.  I have it in my records, but I dont know what it is now.  And we came up on this town and getting into German opposition.  In other words, they had roadblocks, and we couldnt get into town, and we called for artillery getting ready to shell this town to run the Germans out, and it took them awhile to move up.  And this GermanI guess he was mayor, or they called him Brgermeistercame out of this town in an old German car, not a military car, waving a white flag and told us that they were thousands, many, many thousands of German wounded in town, it was a hospital town.   68 00:14:21.5 They had a bunch of hospitals there, and they had a lot of hospitals in southern Germany because southern Germany was, by and large, not damaged like the areas around Berlin and places like that.   And our officers or captain said, Oh, the hell with them.  Theyre killing the Jews.  If you saw what we saw a few days ago, lets just go in and shell, and use the term the bastards, you know.  And a little while later, a colonel, mightve been a major, came up from one of the regiments and this guy was still there, and he ordered the artillery not to shell the town.  Because it would just kill a bunch of wounded German soldiers, you know, and thats the only specific incident I can recall. 69 00:15:7.6 Our guys did haveone of our platoons was ambushed right about that same time, which several guys got killed and some of them badly wounded.  And the Germansome German nurses, military nurses, came upthey had on nurses uniformsto doctor our guys, and the Germans executed those nurses and killed them.  We were fighting the SS at that time.  And Ill never forget that, because its just a terrible thing, you know. 70 00:15:45.6 MH: The Germans killed their own nurses? 71 00:15:47.5 DL: Yeah, they killed their own nurses because they were taking care of the GIs.  And that was also just south of Bad Tlz, probably two or three miles.  They just threw a roadblock up across the road.  We went down both sides of that river on, oh, not a highway but at least an old road, you know.  And then Bad Tlz, itself, was a hospital town.  When we got into Bad Tlz, they hadwed stopped in front of this big building.  Turned out it was a German military hospital, and the German army had already evacuated south, and the first sergeant and captain and I were standing in front of the armored car, and a sniper shot the first sergeant right through the leg.  Didnt kill him.  And they took himthe Germans took him in.  German nursesagain, theretook him into the German hospital and dressed his wounds, and he took command of the hospital.  It was an interesting situation. 72 00:16:54.7 MH: You said in the e-mail that the encounter with the trainload of Jews was one of the most traumatic events of the war for you, and youd been in the war for a long, long time. 73 00:17:5.2 DL: Yeah, we were overseas twenty-seven months.  We started in combat in Salerno, a beachhead, on September 9, 1943. And of course the war ended for us, I think it was May 7 [1945], maybe, the official day, or the eighth.  The war kind of ended at different times, depending on what area you were in, you know.  But for us, I think it was on the seventh.  We were in combat the greater part of that.  Id remember times we were out training and retaining, and such as that, and we made two amphibious landings and also landed at Anzio.  But Anzio was not an amphibious landing; theyd put in docks.  There was shelling (inaudible) in there. 74 00:17:52.1 MH: Youd seen a lot of killing, a lot of death. 75 00:17:59.5 DL: Well, yeah, most of the killing, though, was of German soldiers and our soldiers.  But I hadnt seen much ofcertainly we saw the dead civilians everywhere you were, but not necessarily in a group of prisoners or anything like that, you know. 76 00:18:14.2 MH: I mean, the German mechanism for killing Jews and other people they didnt like was very efficient. 77 00:18:25.6 DL: Well, I been to Austria some fifteen years ago and went throughand they demonstrated to us the methods they used for killing the Jews.  The biggest problem they had after killing the Jews was how to get rid of the bodies, you know, and they were actuallythere was no efficient way of doing it, you know. 78 00:18:49.1 MH: But seeing the train really left an impact on you. 79 00:18:53.9 DL: It really did.  That is by far the saddest thing.  I guess mainly because there were women and kids involved, you know? 80 00:19:3.0 MH: As I do the research on this book and have talked to 150 guys who were liberators, the more I find it difficult to understand what kind of people can do that. 81 00:19:23.3 DL: Well, what Ive always had a hard problem understanding is, Mike, is how the German peopleIm talking about not necessarily the military, how the civilian people who lived in these towns, they had to know about this.  Theres no way in the word they could have places like Dachau, the trains running through with people nailed up in it without knowing about it, and why they didnt do something about it.  That has always puzzled me.  The Germans, I guess, I cant understand it, but knowing people are under orders, you do what youre told to do.  And in our military, you did what youre told to do.  If you thought it was wrong, you could question it and usually get by with it, but that seldom ever happened, you know. 82 00:20:13.6 MH: Where did you grow up? 83 00:20:15.3 DL: I grew up in northeast Texas. 84 00:20:16.7 MH: How old were you when you went in the Army? 85 00:20:20.4 DL: I was twenty-two when I went in.  Well, lets see, in 1943I was bornI went in 1941, and it wasnt my birthday yet, so I was twenty-two when I went in and twenty-seven when I got out. 86 00:20:34.0 MH: When you came home, did you tell people about what youd seen? 87 00:20:39.9 DL: Yes, I told a lot of people about it.  And most people, unless they were thereI dont want to say they dont believe it, but I got a hunch they dont really understand what it was, you know. 88 00:20:53.7 MH: How do you think seeing the things you saw, especially with respect to the camps and what the Nazis did to the Jews, how do you think that mightve affected your life? 89 00:21:8.4 DL: Well, I dont know that it really had any adverse affect on me.  I grew up in an area of Texas where Jews themselves were not liked, but they certainlythey werent treated like the Negroes.  They were treated pretty bad where I grew up, like Alabama, you know, in northeast Texas, because we had legions and burned the courthouse and nearby where I lived, one time, lynched a Negro and stuff like that.  And Jews were generallythe only ones we came into contact, were merchants, so they usually ran clothing stores or something like that, and they were considered shifty, as we called them, or a little bit crooked.   90 00:21:53.5 And Id never really knew any Jews personally as I grew up, but I did learn to respect two Jews in our outfit, three Jews in our outfit, two of them who transferred to the Air Force.  We had a Jew, a lieutenant from New York City who was a Jew, and he was mad.  I mean, he hated the Germans because his family had been mistreated in Europe, and he was a guy that any time theres a mission coming up to go kill Jews or go on patrol 91 00:22:37.7 MH: You mean go kill Germans. 92 00:22:38.4 DL:  Hed sayto kill Germans, I dont mean Jews. Hed say, I want to go.  And thats what killed him.  He charged the German machine gun just north of Rome, and the Germans got him.  Not that far, just south of Rome between Anzio and Rome.  A German machine gun was blocking the road that we wanted to go up, and a colonel came up from the regimental headquarters somewhere and said, I need somebody to go up the road and see what we can do to get rid of that machine gun. And his name was Lieutenant Gutterman, he says, Let me go, Colonel.  And the rest of us were all scared to death hed say, You go with me.  He didnt call on me to go with him.  He took a couple other guys with him, and it wasnt an hour until these other two guys were back.  He was dead, and they sent a (inaudible) up and hauled him back on a Jeep.  And he was about six foot three or four [inches], and there he was, laying across that Jeep, deader than a doornail. 93 00:23:40.5 MH: Do you remember his first name? 94 00:23:42.0 DL: Richard. 95 00:23:43.3 MH: Richard Gutterman? 96 00:23:44.1 DL: Im sorry, no.  Roger, Roger Gutterman, yeah.  Matter of fact, I even have hisI could even give you the address he had at that time in New York City. 97 00:23:55.9 MH: In New York City proper? 98 00:23:58.4 DL: Well, in the New York area.  It might notve been in New York, the Bronx or somewhere like that, but he was from there.  He was a super good guy, well-educated man, and just a good soldier and he got along good with the enlisted man too, yeah. 99 00:24:14.2 MH: In later life, did you run into people who denied the Holocaust happened? 100 00:24:18.4 DL: I really hadnt run into too much of that.  I see that in the papers once in awhile.  But I really haventIve had very few conversations in recent years about that with anybody.  And when I saw yourthere was a note in the 36th Division newsletter, that youre looking for information.  I thought, well, Ill write that man and tell him what little I know. 101 00:24:44.0 MH: I really appreciate it.  Do you think the train ended upI know there were camps called Kaufering camps that were part of Landsberg concentration camp.  Do you think the train was near there? 102 00:24:54.9 DL: I dont know, I really dont know.  I think the camps were still there.  I dont think the camps had beenany in that area had been, so calledwe called it liberated at that time, because that wasthe Americans were just moving in, and I would say that my outfit was probably the first Americans in this particular area. 103 00:25:16.3 MH: You didnt see those camps, though. 104 00:25:18.0 DL: I didnt see those camps.  I never really saw a camp.  The only ones I saw was Birkenau and Auschwitz in Poland when we were over in Czechoslovakia a few years ago. 105 00:25:28.7 MH: My wife and I have also been to Auschwitz and Birkenau. 106 00:25:31.4 DL: You what? 107 00:25:32.4 MH: My wife and I had gone to Auschwitz and Birkenau. 108 00:25:34.4 DL: Oh, man, I tell you, isnt that something?  We went over there for a wedding.  My daughter married a Czechoslovakian, and we got into their hometown in northern Czechoslovakia, and I looked at my daughter and said, Were right across the border from Krakw. Lets go over there, and I think thats where Auschwitz was, or near there. And we went over there and took a days tour of Auschwitz, and Birkenau we toured on the same day. 109 00:26:4.8 MH: The problem I had touring that is that when we went there it was a beautiful spring day and the sky was blue and the grass was green and birds were singing, and they had a gift shop and they had a flower shop. 110 00:26:18.4 DL: That didnt really make much sense, did it? 111 00:26:21.8 MH: And it justand the GIs that Ive talked to that have gone into these camps, the first thing that they talk about is the smell. 112 00:26:28.3 DL: Oh, course we didnt see that, we didnt have that.  The thing that impressed me I think Ill never for get.  Two things that I recall most: one was a display, a great big glass case of shoes and purses and things that the kids had to give up when they came in there, and the other was the concrete stock where they put these Jews to punish them when they were working if they talked to someonea civilian, you know.  They put them in there at night in practically freezing weather, standing up, in these iron cages where they couldnt sit or lie down.  And I cant think of anything any worse than that, and the fact that the German commandant, according to the briefing they gave us, lived with his family just outside the gates, you know.  He had kids, too. 113 00:27:26.0 MH: To go back to the train for a moment, did you ever get out of the armored car and try to talk to any of these people? 114 00:27:35.7 DL: I did not talk to them myself.  I got out of the armored car when I got relieved, but I dont recall talking to them personally, no. 115 00:27:42.4 MH: You told me some were in striped uniforms.  Theres nothing else you remember about seeing the people themselves. 116 00:27:55.0 DL: No, I recall some who had on civilian clothes, really ragged and dirty, and it looks like theyd had the same clothes on for months at a time, and I suppose they had, you know.  But thats about all I recall.  I do recall the faces on them, looking like they certainly had been starved, because they had no fat on any part of their body. 117 00:28:22.1 MH: I appreciate your getting in touch with me.  You know, itsfinding guys who actually saw it is getting more and more difficult, and I thank you.  Do you happen to have a photo of yourself from World War II? 118 00:28:36.7 119 00:28:47.8 MH: Do youis it a good photo of you from back then, then? 120 00:28:50.9 DL: Its a pretty good picture, yeah. 121 00:28:52.3 MH: Okay, and do have a current picture? 122 00:28:53.9 DL: Yeah, I do.  I got one in the last two or three years, you know. 123 00:28:58.0 MH: Okay. 124 00:29:0.3 DL: I can get you a current picture. 125 00:29:2.2 MH: Okay, I would appreciate that, if you could send it to me. You have my address? 126 00:29:5.4 DL: Yes, I do. 127 00:29:6.3 128 00:29:10.5 DL: Well, thats fine.   You canI was going to say I could send it to you on the computer, but Im not too current computer for it.  I better just mail it to you. 129 00:29:19.6 MH: Yeah, if you could mail me a good picture, then I can scan it and send it back. 130 00:29:22.0 DL: And when you get this book written that youre talking about it, just send me an e-mail, will ya, and 131 00:29:29.0 MH: Everybody who Ive interviewed will end up getting a copy of the book from the publisher. 132 00:29:33.1 DL: Well, Id like to get that.   133 00:29:34.2 MH: Its my pleasure. 134 00:29:36.8 DL: Id just be happy to 135 00:29:38.9 MH: No, well take care of every 136 00:29:40.0 DL: And if you like, Ill send you a copy of my story of World War II. 137 00:29:45.4 MH: If you have it, Id like 138 00:29:47.6 DL: I mean, its not a bad book.  Its one I wrote and had reproduced in maybe about 100 copies, but I sent it out to all my living buddies and all of my familyeven Library of Congress and the 36th Division Museum. 139 00:30:1.3 MH: Id like to receive that, if you can. 140 00:30:2.8 DL: Ill send you a copy. 141 00:30:3.9 MH: Okay.  Thank you very, very much, sir. 142 00:30:5.6 DL: Youre quite welcome. 143 00:30:6.4 MH: I appreciate it. 144 00:30:7.0 DL: Bye-bye. 145 00:30:7.7 MH: Bye-bye. 146 00:30:8.4 DL: Hold on just minute. 147 00:30:9.1 MH: Yes, sir. 148 00:30:9.7 DL: (to wife) Yes, I do have his address.  (to MH) My wife wants to know if I had your address. I have ityou sent it to me. 149 00:30:13.7 MH: Okay. 150 00:30:14.2 DL: Thanks. 151 00:30:14.8 MH: Okay, thank you. 152 00:30:15.3 DL: Bye. 153 00:30:15.4 MH: Bye-bye.



PAGE 1

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Latimer, Don,
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Don Latimer oral history interview
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interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
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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 August 3, 2008.
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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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This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Don Latimer. Latimer was a radio operator in the 36th Infantry Division's reconnaissance troop, which encountered a death train in the vicinity of Bad Tlz in late April 1945. The train had several boxcars, nailed shut, with many Jewish prisoners inside, some alive, some dead. Latimer remained in his armored car, staying in radio contact with the platoons and with headquarters, while his comrades opened the train doors. They gave the prisoners food, water, and medical treatment and continued on to Bad Tlz. Latimer describes the train encounter as one of the most traumatic events of the war for him. He did not see any other camps during the war but later visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.
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