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Panebianco, Albert R.,
Albert R. Panebianco oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (51 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (23 p.)
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsh (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
Interview conducted September 5, 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 Albert R. Panebianco. Panebianco was a staff sergeant with the 45th Infantry Division, which liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. While on the way to Munich, the battalion commander, Felix Sparks, received a call about the concentration camp and took one of his companies to investigate. Panebianco's company returned that evening and spent the night there; he walked around the camp, but did not go into the buildings. The following day, he was put in charge of guarding the women's camp at Allach, a nearby sub-camp. At Allach, he talked to one woman who told him about the camp and the conditions there. Panebianco did not speak about Dachau until the 1980s, and in 1997 he created a website about the 45th Division's role in liberating the camp, which he maintained until his death in 2010.
Panebianco, Albert R.,
Infantry Division, 45th.
Infantry Division, 45th
v Personal narratives.
Dachau (Concentration camp)
Allach (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
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.0 text Mrs. Panebianco: Hello? 1 00:00:0.7 Michael HIrsh: Hi, this is Michael Hirsh calling. 2 00:00:2.6 Albert Panebianco: Oh, Mike, Im sorry. I know Ive been on the sick list, just about getting over this flu. 3 00:00:9.3 MH: Oh thats no fun. 4 00:00:10.9 AP: How have you been? 5 00:00:13.3 MH: Ive been fine. How are you? 6 00:00:14.3 AP: Good. 7 00:00:14.8 MH: You doing better? 8 00:00:15.9 AP: A little better, Mike. 9 00:00:17.3 MH: Is this a good time to talk, or want to wait a few days? 10 00:00:21.2 AP: Well, if you could wait a few days, I would appreciate it. What would you want me to get for you, Mike? 11 00:00:27.9 MH: I just want to hear about your experiences liberating the camps. 12 00:00:32.7 AP: Well, as far as Dachau, you know, we started off on the morning of the twenty-ninth [of April 1945]. 13 00:00:43.1 MH: Hang on one secondis it okay for you to talk now? 14 00:00:45.4 AP: Yeah, sure. 15 00:00:46.5 MH: Let me just turn the tape recorder on. 16 00:00:49.6 AP: Okay. 17 00:00:50.5 MH: Why dont you give me your name and spell it for me, please. 18 00:00:56.2 AP: You want that now? 19 00:00:57.8 MH: Yes, please. 20 00:00:58.5 AP: My name is Albert R. Panebianco, spelled P, as in Paul-A-N, as in Nancy-E-B, as in boy-I-A-N-C-O. 21 00:01:13.9 MH: And your address, please. 22 00:01:17.6 AP: The address is. 23 00:01:18.6 MH: And your phone number I have; its. 24 00:01:18.5 AP: Thats correct. 25 00:01:21.0 MH: And your date of birth? 26 00:01:22.5 AP: 12-26-22 [December 26, 1922]. 27 00:01:24.9 MH: And how old were you when you went in the service? 28 00:01:30.8 AP: What was I? Eighteen or nineteen, eighteen or nineteen. I had just come out of high school. 29 00:01:37.5 MH: And you went in where? 30 00:01:40.6 AP: I went inIm just trying to think. I went down to the naval base; it was in Philadelphia [Philadelphia Naval Shipyard]. And then they sent me to Fort Meade, Maryland, I think it was. 31 00:01:59.2 MH: So what year was that, do you guess? 32 00:02:1.9 AP: Well, forty-one I guess it was forty-three . 33 00:02:7.2 MH: Just tell me your story. 34 00:02:13.4 AP: Let me begin with where we started, because youre mainly concerned just with the Dachau liberation. We started off in the morning at 7:30, and Lieutenant Colonel Felix Sparks was our battalion commander. 35 00:02:31.6 MH: This is April 29, forty-five . 36 00:02:33.7 AP: April 29, forty-five . And he was given orders that we were going to go down and take Munich, Germany. While we were in the process of doing that, he received another call and told him that Camp Dachau was right in front of him and be prepared to take over Camp Dachau and not let anyone in or out of the camp after he seized it. Now, thatwhat happened after he got that account, Company K, that I was with, we were riding tanks. And we were moving pretty fast. And Company L was going toward the town of Dachau, which is right adjacent to the camp itself. Thats why people couldnt believe that people in that town didnt know what was going on with the 37 00:03:40.0 MH: Camp; yeah, none of them ever knew anything. 38 00:03:45.1 AP: Thats right. 39 00:03:46.5 MH: They didnt see it, they didnt smell it, they didnt hear it. 40 00:03:50.1 AP: They didnt smell it and I dont know how they couldnt have smelled it, but that was it. So, as far as we were concerned, we were already ahead of L and I Company. There were three companies, K, I and L. I Company was in reserve. Well, when Colonel Sparks got this information, he took I Company out, because he said that was the only company he had left. And they were going to liberate the camp. Thats how I Company got involved with the liberation. 41 00:04:28.7 MH: Your rank was what? 42 00:04:30.8 AP: I was a staff sergeant. 43 00:04:32.6 MH: How did you happen to be riding tanks? 44 00:04:35.9 AP: Well, you see, when they dont meet much opposition and they feel they got a little leeway to go, theyll put you in tanks or trucks, just that you could speed. They did that when they made the invasion of southern France, also. 45 00:04:56.9 MH: So, what unit were the tanks from, do you remember? 46 00:05:0.4 AP: Oh, the tankswell, they gave the colonel a full complement. He had the 191st Tank Battalion with us and he had medics with us, and he had forward observers of artillery with us. Oh, he had the full complement that he would be able toif anything turned up, that he would be able to take care of it. So, he was pretty well stacked. 47 00:05:32.4 MH: So, youre now on the tanks, and youre heading toward Dachau. 48 00:05:34.8 AP: And were heading toward Dachau. All of a sudden, we do an about face and now were coming back. We already traveled, and we were coming back because we were to the left of the camp. The camp was liberated by I Company, and they must have radioed us and told us, Hey, come on back. To make a long story short, the three companies were back that night in Camp Dachau. L Company was in the town. What we had to do was take a step on the side of that town, and you were in the camp. So, the three companies were there that night, and then the following morning, K Company, which I was with, was assigned to take over guard duty in Camp Allach, A-l-l-a-c-h. It was a political prison camp there, and I hadI had charge of the womens section. 49 00:06:50.4 MH: Was that adjacent to the big concentration camp? 50 00:06:55.5 AP: Not adjacent to. Now, I dont recall exactly the distance from Dachau to that camp. But this is where all this confusion has come about, that the people say they liberated Dachau and this and that. But there were so many of them. 51 00:07:16.3 MH: Dachau had more than 200 sub-camps, I understand. 52 00:07:21.1 AP: Yes. I dont know if it was 200 but yes, they had a lot of sub-camps, as a consequence. But this one, we pulled out the next morning to go to Camp Allach; that was the original Dachau concentration camp. It was built in 1933. 53 00:07:43.5 MH: Tell me about it. The next morning, this is April 30 54 00:07:47.5 AP: Yes, yes. 55 00:07:50.9 MH: So you were still on the tanks? 56 00:07:52.2 AP: Oh, no, no, no. We had them going back to Dachau that night, that afternoon. And then we stayed there that night. 57 00:08:4.5 MH: Did you go into the camp? 58 00:08:5.9 AP: Oh, yes. 59 00:08:7.1 MH: Well, lets back up then. On the twenty-ninth. 60 00:08:10.2 AP: All right, on the twenty-ninth. Well, this is a little hazy to me; its a long time ago. 61 00:08:17.4 MH: Youre entitled to be hazy. 62 00:08:18.5 AP: I know we went back into the camp, and some of the things we saw and the odors and what have you, Ill never forget. But, hey, everybody tells you that. 63 00:08:32.8 MH: But tell me about it. I mean, you went into the campSparks had already gone in? 64 00:08:38.2 AP: Yes. 65 00:08:39.5 MH: And by the time you got there, the shooting was over? 66 00:08:43.9 AP: Yes, yes. 67 00:08:45.7 MH: So you went into the outer perimeter area and the inmates of the camp were still locked up in the central portion? 68 00:08:55.7 AP: Well, some of them were, and because they had a variation of prisoners in there. They had SS troopers in there, and they had a couple of our Allied boys, who could smell em, even though they changed clothes, some of them. You know, to say they were SS troopers. But we had a couple French men that could practically smell them out and know who were and who werent. But as far as going into there, we just went in therein fact, I cant even remember where we slept, believe it or not, that night, if we slept on the outskirts of it or we slept inside. You know, Im getting old. 69 00:09:48.1 MH: Thats okay. But what did you see when you went in? 70 00:09:53.3 AP: Well, when wewhen I went in there, the most I can remember is we saw all these bodies laying around. And I can remember that they had some of the peoplethey bulldozered longIll call them trenches, long trenches which were to bury the poor souls that were dead at the time. They were going to have a mass burial. And they took a bulldozer and just ran it right down the line and had the people do it there, had them take their bodies and dump them down in thatwhat do you want to call it, a ditch or what have you. Had a mass burial. 71 00:10:38.1 MH: Did you watch this going on? 72 00:10:40.7 AP: Yes, yes. That was heartache. 73 00:10:44.0 MH: How do you take in a sight like that? 74 00:10:47.2 AP: Well, you knowyou know, theres write-ups that you probably read already about how some of our men killed the men against the wall. What people dont realize, theres an old expression: War is hell. People, when theyre sitting in Washington or theyre sitting home in their nice, soft chairs in their living room, dont realize what goes on in a mans mind when he sees things like that. Â Even animals are treated better than that. And, you know, that will live: that will live with each and every one of us that was there for the rest of our lives till we die. 75 00:11:35.6 MH: How do you absorb it, how do you process it? I mean 76 00:11:39.7 AP: Well, I dont knowdid Dave Israel get in touch with you?Â David Israel was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00063. 77 00:11:46.1 MH: Yeah, Ive talked to Dave Israel. 78 00:11:47.3 AP: All right, he wrote that book that 79 00:11:53.0 MH: Right, The Day the Thunderbird Cried. 80 00:11:54.7 AP: Yeah. You know, when you goI joined them at Anzio at beachhead [Operation Shingle] the later part of February in forty-four . And I was one of the oldest guys of the company; in fact I was very fortunate to get hit on January 15 of forty-five . 81 00:12:20.3 MH: You said you got hit? 82 00:12:23.0 AP: Yeah, that had nothingthat was before, shortly before we got to Dachau. And its a good thingthey call it a million-dollar wound. I got hit in the mouth, knocked a few teeth out with shrapnel. And I spent a month in the hospital in pinal, France. 83 00:12:43.3 MH: Where in France? 84 00:12:46.3 AP: pinal, -p-i-n-a-l. In pinal, France, I spent a month there. And of course, it was a godsend because on the twentieth of January, there were five or six rifle companies taken prisoner, American rifle companies. So anybodythis was at the town of Reipertswiller. Anybody who was at the town of Reipertswiller, there was only two people that came out of that. That got back to the friendly lines again. The rest were either dead, they were wounded, or they were not wounded but they were POWs. You know. So, I was out of there for a month; and then I went back to the company, and of course, like I say, five or six companies were taken prisoner. So, they were pulled troops from other outfits to replace those people that were taken prisoner or killed and what have you. And of course, we had a whole new organization. In fact, they were even calling about 10 percent of troops from rear echelon groups, which I felt sorry for them, who were there four years already when we were at Reipertswiller; and unfortunately, a lot of those fellows were killed, too. Now, they were killed at another town called Aschaffenburg, which was still ahead of this Dachau camp. 85 00:14:37.0 MH: Lets go back to being in Dachau and talking aboutwhats going through your mind when youre seeing this? 86 00:14:48.3 AP: When youre seeing this, you say to yourself, Can this be true? Can another human being do this, take them, kill em, starve them and put them inIm thinking of, oh 87 00:15:9.6 MH: The ovens? 88 00:15:10.1 AP: What? 89 00:15:11.1 MH: The ovens? 90 00:15:11.9 AP: Yeah, the ovens. Right. And put them in there and try to do away with them that way. Its terrible. Its something thatand this is why even today I had thoughts of whats happening with our election right now. But I dont want to go on that tangent. 91 00:15:33.7 MH: When you walked through the camp, did you go into the buildings? 92 00:15:39.5 AP: Iwe didnt. Our Company K did not go. We were milling around inside the camp, but not in the buildings, because we got there a little later than most of them. Because we had a little distance to travel, you know, to get back. The camp was already liberated when we got there. 93 00:16:5.2 MH: Right. Did you talk to the prisoners? 94 00:16:9.0 AP: No, I did not. I did not talk to one prisoner, no. Well, I absorbed a lot of sights, I can tell you that. 95 00:16:16.8 MH: Tell me about some of the other sights you saw. 96 00:16:19.1 AP: Well, when you see men with their skulls crushed, and you see just skin and bone, and theyre thin and their faces are sunken in. Its a feeling you get: hey, itll stay with you, like I say, until you die. Its horrible. And the odor that comes out of that place, it was terrible. It was terrible. Â The buildings I went and lookedvery, very nice to me, you know, that the German officerstheir quarters. That looked pretty decent to me. 97 00:17:1.4 MH: Had you been told anything about the camps before you got to Dachau? 98 00:17:6.3 AP: No. Not a thing. All we knew, we turned around and they said, Were going to Dachau. Thats all I know. Where Dachau waswe were taken about as Sparks was. Cause he even admits he didnt know what a concentration camp was. Neither did anybody else. And he didnt know until he was on top of it. 99 00:17:32.7 MH: Tell me about the next day when you went to Allach. Was it Allach, A-l-a-c-h? 100 00:17:40.8 AP: Allach, yeah. 101 00:17:41.1 MH: A-l-a-c-h? 102 00:17:42.7 AP: A-double l-a-c-h. 103 00:17:45.5 MH: A-double l-a-c-h. And that was just a 104 00:17:47.8 AP: It was like a political camp. In fact, Im trying to think of his namethere was a fellow there, when I got to that camp, there was a fellow there who was a political, an East German political prisoner. And he was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. And you know, I worked with them and tried to locate that guy, and I couldnt locate him. 105 00:18:14.6 MH: He was a prisoner? 106 00:18:17.5 AP: Yup, yup. And he boasted to me, he says, Look at me. He says, Im a cook here. Which struck me as funny. But he was a cook in that camp. One of the cooks, anyway. And then he said, I know what I was doingI had to eat. 107 00:18:42.8 MH: Did you run into people from the 42nd Division there? 108 00:18:46.0 AP: No, I did not run into anybody from the 42nd Division. 109 00:18:51.9 MH: Its sort of funny. Im looking online right now, and it says liberation of Allach, and it talks about Allach was liberated by the 42nd Rainbow Division on April 30, 1945. Â 110 00:19:4.2 AP: Well, can I say something? I say, dont believe everything you read and half of what you see. Because this still goes on today, that theres a feud going on between the 42nd 111 00:19:24.9 MH: And the 45th. 112 00:19:25.9 AP: And the 45th. And thats why II didnt thank him, but I asked him in a fairly nice way; at that time, he was Brigadier General [Felix] Sparks. I knew he had written this article, and I said, Do me a favor: grant me the permission to put that article on my computer site, And he said Al, go ahead, youve got my permission. If you read that thing 113 00:19:57.2 MH: Ive read it. 114 00:19:58.1 AP: Youve read it. I guess youve read it a couple of times like I have. And that will give you a true picture. Sparks is the guy (inaudible). 115 00:20:9.8 MH: Right. So tell me more about Allach. 116 00:20:12.3 AP: All right. When I was going, the first one I ran into was this writer from the Chicago Tribune. And then I went inside the camp, and they gave me a section, and I bring men in and they made me sergeant of the guard of this certain part of the camp. And it was the female section of Allach. Okay? Now, a woman came out from one of the barracksshe spoke English very welland she had one arm missing. And she says, Do you see this? I said yes. She said, Well, this was from American artillery. But she held no malice against the American forces, she said. This was a gift, as far as Im concerned. Then she took me right to the entrance of one of the barracks, and I tell ya, Id have gone further than the entrance, because she was telling me they had no sanitation facilities, no nothing. And yet, that section of the camp looked spic and span to me. You know. But the woman, she says, They gave us nothing here. We had to make everything. And she said, These poor girls have gone through hell. And that wasthats all I did there, just so I posted guards around just to make sure that part of the camp remained peaceful and no uproars. 117 00:22:13.7 MH: The woman who had lost an arm, had she lost it recently, or had? 118 00:22:20.7 AP: I would say she had lost itit could have been maybe at the beginning of the war or middle of the war. It was all healed up. 119 00:22:29.7 MH: Oh. Because the story online says during the night of April 29 or 30 that the camp was attacked by U.S. artillery. They were shooting 120 00:22:42.8 AP: No, she was healed. Yeah. 121 00:22:46.3 MH: So, you walked to this one building, but you didnt go in. 122 00:22:49.8 AP: No, because I had no desire to go in, to be honest with you, because there were all women in there. Now those peopleto make a comparison between Dachau and Allach, there was a big variation there. Evidently, those people were getting food or something, because they looked pretty good to me, compared to like before in Dachau. You know, you look at those people who were skin and bones and you look at these people, they looked pretty decent. 123 00:23:28.0 MH: Were they wearing the striped uniforms? 124 00:23:31.1 AP: She wasnt, no. No, she didnt haveshe had a regular womans garment on, a dress. 125 00:23:41.4 MH: So, what else did you do inside Allach? 126 00:23:47.2 AP: Well, thats what I had to do, just walk around and check where I had men posted, to make sure everything was okay. That was my job. Why we were there. Now, we were only there, I guess three days. And then L Company and I Company were already in Munich. And then we were relieved byI forget the outfit who relieved usand we then joined the two companies, I and L. 127 00:24:26.4 MH: But your company did spend three days at Allach. 128 00:24:30.3 AP: At Allach. 129 00:24:31.7 MH: Tell me more aboutwhat did you do during those three days? Where did you eat? 130 00:24:36.0 AP: Well, now that I dont even remember. That, I cant remember. I dont know. I guess we ate K rations. I cant remember eating any food other than K rations. 131 00:24:52.7 MH: Do you remember any conversations with your buddies? 132 00:24:54.9 AP: No, the only one I remember was when I talked to that fellow who was a reporter for the Tribune in Chicago. Thats the only oneand the woman that spoke to me. 133 00:25:10.6 MH: Were there bodies at that camp, too? 134 00:25:13.0 AP: No, no. I didnt see any. 135 00:25:15.5 MH: Was it a work camp, or were they just being held there? 136 00:25:20.9 AP: No, I think it was a camp where they took them out each day and marched them somewhere or transported them somewhere to do specific jobs. 137 00:25:32.8 MH: What about the German guards? Were they all gone by then? 138 00:25:38.9 AP: Where, at Allach? 139 00:25:41.8 MH: Yes. 140 00:25:43.1 AP: Oh, yeah, yeah. That was clean, because there was another outfit there just before us that we replaced. 141 00:25:53.1 MH: And they took care of any of the German guards. 142 00:26:0.8 AP: I would assume so. 143 00:26:2.9 MH: Whattell me more about your conversation with that woman. What else did she say? 144 00:26:11.5 AP: Well, she came up to me. She must have been a leader of the group or something. Because she saw me walking up this big, oh, flat piece of concrete. It was like a big concrete padI guess thats where they fell out, in the morning or turned in at night. And she came out, and I said hello to her and she said, Hello. And she did tell me her name, but God knows what it was. But anyway. 145 00:26:42.7 MH: Do you remember what country she was from? 146 00:26:45.1 AP: No, no. But she spoke English very well, I tell you that. And she told me about how unsanitary conditions were in that camp, especially in the womans section. And I could understand what she was telling me. And I said, Im sorry to hear that. She said, Any piece of cloth that we could get, get a hold of, we would. And I said, Well, Im sorry to hear that. She said, To keep the odor down, we tried everything, but what are you going to do? Her conversation with me was rather brief, also. 147 00:27:30.7 MH: There, youre seeing people who are not the walking dead. Is your reaction to them any different than at the main Dachau camp? 148 00:27:48.4 AP: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Yes. I mean, Allach I could say, you know, it was like a jail. And the people looked nourished. They didnt look like skin was just covering their bones, you know. And they could walk and they could get around. But when you go in Dachau, oh, thats a different picture altogether. Different picture altogether. 149 00:28:17.5 MH: Was that the last camp you were in? 150 00:28:23.7 AP: Allach? Yes. 151 00:28:24.9 MH: How long after that did you go home? 152 00:28:27.8 AP: Let me seeI was transferred. They came in with the point system at the end of the war. And the point system was that if you had so many points, you could stay over. If it had an exceptional number of points, you came home. And so I had seventy-four points, so I didnt have enough points to come home, but I had enough points to stay there. And of course they transferred me to the 9th Infantry Division. I tell you, I lived the life of Riley. The best, the best time I spent when I was in the service. I was able to eat out of china dishes, you know. Thats a big event. But my duty there was to ride with a driver; we were hauling water. They werent gasoline tanks, but they were containers of water. And we were getting water here and taking it there or what have you. So that was a pretty good job. 153 00:29:46.4 MH: When did you return to the U.S.? 154 00:29:48.0 AP: Let me see. I was dischargedhome on OctoberI went in, in March. I believe I was discharged October forty-five . October forty-five . I went in March of forty-three , thats what it was. 155 00:30:15.5 MH: And you came home to where? 156 00:30:19.0 AP: We went into New York, I think. 157 00:30:28.0 MH: But you were discharged, and your home, again, was? 158 00:30:32.3 AP: No, I was discharged at Fort Meade, Maryland. 159 00:30:36.1 MH: And you went back home. 160 00:30:38.3 AP: Thats right. 161 00:30:39.8 MH: Do you remember the first time you tried to tell people about what you had seen in the camps? 162 00:30:44.6 AP: To be very honest with you, even my family didnt know I was in the service. Of course I hadnt married; I was still a single guy. But even after my children were born, they didnt know I was in the military service until I started to go to reunions, which was after I retired, you know, from work. 163 00:31:11.5 MH: So, you never talked about? 164 00:31:13.9 AP: Never talked about it. And the only reason I talked about it then was when we went to these reunions, they werethese fellows, you know, that knew me and what have you. 165 00:31:26.2 MH: Why didnt you talk about it? 166 00:31:28.3 AP: In fact, I just wantedjust to forget about the whole thing. It wasnt something you would want to remember, let me put it that way. 167 00:31:44.3 MH: Did you have nightmares? 168 00:31:45.8 AP: No. No, thank God, I was able to keep my own. You know, you spend over a year in the field, every day, and youre pretty fortunate just to get hit one time. Â We had guys who got hit six times. You had fellows who came in and asked me how long I was with the company, and Id say, Im not God, I could be hit while were talking here. So, I wanted to keep the space youre supposed to keep between each other all the time. You know, they thought I was an exception to the rule. I guess they were right. 169 00:32:33.5 MH: So, what was your civilian business? What did you do? 170 00:32:38.5 AP: Oh, I was in the insurance business. I got employment with Prudential Life Insurance and sold insurance. Sold the intangible. 171 00:32:52.9 MH: But thats a job where all you do every day is talk to people, and you never talked about being in the war? 172 00:33:0.3 AP: Never. 173 00:33:1.9 MH: And what you saw. 174 00:33:3.2 AP: Never. Never. Like I say, I cant even remember when weI knew when it was, it was eighty-four . I tell you what, eighty-four  when I retired. Before I retired, it must have been about eighty-six  or 1987, I started to go to the reunions. From that point, even when I came home, and my little nephews, I gave everything away. I said, Take it, heres my jacketyou can do anything you want with it. Heres all these medals, you could have them. And that was it. 175 00:33:42.4 MH: And yet now, you keep up a pretty good website. 176 00:33:45.0 AP: Yeah, well, let me put it this way: If it werent for my grandsonI think of him as a kid, but hes out of college already. If it werent for him, we wouldnt have a website. Because when I went to the computer in the latter part of ninety-seven , I could find very, very little about the 45th Infantry Division. The 45th Infantry Division was a division that wanted to get the war over with. Â They wanted to fight it, get it done, and go home. 177 00:34:28.4 MH: Didnt they all? 178 00:34:29.8 AP: Beg your pardon? 179 00:34:30.9 MH: Didnt they all? 180 00:34:31.8 AP: Well, let me put it this way. Let me elaborate a little bit. There were outfits that wanted a lot of publicity, always wanted to be in the spotlight. To give you an idea about Dachau, between the 42nd and the 45th, the 42nd Division needed a feather in their cap somewhere along the line. And since they were not that old overseas, getting this liberation to be General [Henning] Linden was a feather in their hat. Now, you go to Dachau, youll find plaques for the 20th Armored Division, youll see plaques up there for the 42nd Divisionwhats the other one? The 20th Armored, the 42ndoh, Im trying to think of the other one. Youll see three plaques hanging there. Youll see nothing for the 45th. And let me tell you, I didnt know it, but I got into the middle of this thing, and this thing was going on way before I thought about it. And there was literature and correspondence ceiling high. And the 45th wanted nothing to do with it anymore, because the 42nd had approached the 45th to join them and accept a plaque, and the 45th said, No way. That was it and it stayed that way. 181 00:36:18.6 MH: So, whyd you get in the middle of it? 182 00:36:20.4 AP: Well, I got in the middle of it because I (phone beeps) about that. I didnt know that that had transpired before I got involved. But then when I contacted the hierarchy in Oklahoma, which is the 45th Divisions home, I began to find out what transpired before I got involved. And Iyou know, theres an awful lot of politics, even during war, believe me. 183 00:36:53.1 MH: Howcould you put a finger on how seeing what happened at Dachau might have affected your life later on? 184 00:37:2.0 AP: No, I cannot. I cannot. Because I tried to let itI didnt want to dwell on it. And I felt if I dwelled on it, I wasnt going to be worth much for the rest of my life. I tried to erase it out of my mind. Not an easy job. 185 00:37:34.0 MH: Did you have to battle to do it? 186 00:37:38.4 AP: Yes, I went out and married a real nice gal, married sixty years and had three children and eight grandchildren, and I count every day as a bonus day that I live. 187 00:37:55.5 MH: Because you could have died in the war? 188 00:37:59.2 AP: Yes, yes. In fact, I often thought the people dont believe. And I say hey, thats all right. You dont have to believe in what I believe in. But believe in something, because if you dont believe in something, I tell you, youll be in sad shape later on in your life. 189 00:38:18.9 MH: Youre a religious person? 190 00:38:22.3 AP: I wouldnt say Im a religious fanatic, but I believe. Listen, when we pushed off on Anzio, three of us went out on this little ravine and they had everything zeroed in with artillery, the Germans did. The three of us dove into thislooked like a big shell hole, thats what it looked like. And Im in the middle, and heres Jerry (inaudible) on one side and this other fellowI cant remember his nameon the right of me, right? After it quiets down, I get up and I look, and those two guys looked like a butcher butchered them. Here I stand up, not even a scratch. Now, you know, you see things like thatthats what makes me believe. 191 00:39:20.7 MH: Do you evera lot of people question whether there could be a God if God allows things like Dachau to happen. That never entered your mind? 192 00:39:35.8 AP: Well, noheres, this just goes to show you. Heres Velting, one of the fellows who was killed in that artillery hole. Heres a fellow, he read his prayer book very day. Nice kid, from Michigan. And hes buried over there in the American cemeteryI was there twice, you think I could think of it? Anyway. 193 00:40:11.3 MH: You went back to Dachau? 194 00:40:12.9 AP: Yeah, I was back. In fact, I was supposed to go back in, this last anniversary. And I couldnt make it because I was operated on, and it was one of these things. I was between a rock and a hard place. If I didnt get the operation, I could maybe walk out the door and topple over, that was it, no chance of calling 911. And if I was operated on, these are the litany of things that could happen to meI could go blind or I could become paralyzed, all beautiful things. 195 00:40:53.6 MH: What was wrong? 196 00:40:55.8 AP: I had what they called a thoracic aortic aneurysm. And these operations arent thatthey didnt perform that many in a year. And most of the time, you know, this is what happens. So, Ive been in a wheelchair ever since; that happened July of 2003. Nearly five years in a wheelchair. But these are things that happen, and you know, if I hadnt moved down here, I would have never knownnever know that I had an aneurysm. 197 00:41:40.8 MH: Howd they happen to find it? 198 00:41:43.0 AP: I beg your pardon? 199 00:41:44.1 MH: How did they happen to find it? 200 00:41:46.0 AP: Oh, I had a problemI had recurring polyps of my nose. And when I came down here I had to find a fellow that could take care of my nose. I went in there, nice doctorDr. Hann, I think his name was, or Mann, Dr. Mann. And he I says, Well, if youre going to tell me that I have to get another operation, forget it. He said, Do me a favor anyway, let me get an x-ray. I said, Ill do that. Forget my nose. They found that aneurysm. Now how, I dont know. 201 00:42:24.0 MH: And the reason youre in the wheelchair? 202 00:42:25.7 AP: Yeah, cause I was paralyzed from the waist down. Now, I didnt even know what the word therapy meant. You start to take it, but you know those girls really helped me out a lot. At least I could walk with a walkernot too long a distance, but I could walk with a walker, you know. But its something. But my poor wife has paid the price for this. But hey, talk about belief! 203 00:43:1.3 MH: How do you deal with people who say the Holocaust never happened? 204 00:43:7.3 AP: Ach! This is why I will continue until I die, that if I could put more articles out, that I will. Whatever I could write and put itat my age, your mind doesnt work like it used to. 205 00:43:27.3 MH: How old are you? 206 00:43:28.1 AP: Eighty-five. 207 00:43:29.3 MH: You are eighty-five, okay. 208 00:43:30.4 AP: And Im one of the younger guys. Most of them were older than me. But Iwith that thing that I printed up on my buddy Sparks, that will stay on. And I have from my grandson who helped me out with this website; hadnt been for him, we would have never had the website. 209 00:43:56.4 MH: Have you actually ever confronted anybody in person who said it didnt happen? 210 00:44:1.9 AP: No. No, no. Now theres a questionI dont know how I would react. Sparks gave a spiel down in Washington, D.C. that I attended. His main title was, Dont tell us that it never happened, something like that, something likeit was like, Dont tell us that it never happened, because we were there. Something like that. 211 00:44:33.3 MH: But youre not sure how youd react. 212 00:44:36.0 AP: How I would react? 213 00:44:38.3 MH: Yeah. 214 00:44:39.2 AP: I think I would become furious. Youre out of your mind, or something like that. 215 00:44:55.9 MH: Anything else that comes to mind? 216 00:45:0.1 AP: Not offhand. No, this will give you a little insight or something. I had a friend who moved down here to North Carolina with his son. I gave you his namehis name is Anthony Cardinale.Â Anthony Cardinale was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00016. 217 00:45:22.0 MH: Actually, Im going to see Tony on March 1. 218 00:45:24.3 AP: Youre going to see him? Youre goingoh, youre in Florida. 219 00:45:27.8 MH: I live in Florida. 220 00:45:28.8 AP: Tony is one of the nicest guys youll ever meet. That other thing I did, his son moved here and shortly after he lost his job and then he moved down where they are now, in Florida. But Tony was with the 42nd. 221 00:45:44.5 MH: Yeah, Im surprised you talk to him. 222 00:45:46.1 AP: You know what, I wish he lived here. Heres a guy you will really have to meet to appreciate him. Hes one hell of a nice guy. 223 00:45:58.8 MH: How did you happen to meet him? 224 00:45:59.4 AP: Im just trying to think now, what happened. Hold on a minute. (to Mrs. Panebianco) Hey, hon, how did we get in contact with Tony Cardinale? You what? No, how did we meet him? Yes. Oh thats what it is. 225 00:46:29.4 One of the guys who e-mailed me told me that he was living down here, and he gave me his address or his phone number. And I called him, and we went out and had lunch together one day. And then shortly thereafter, they moved. 226 00:46:45.6 MH: He told you the story about the train? 227 00:46:48.6 AP: Yeah. Yeah. Because you know, he showed me a picture. He said, You know, if that guy wasnt in front of me, right there, you would see my face. 228 00:47:3.0 MH: But thats an amazing story at the train, to find somebody alive. 229 00:47:12.3 AP: Yep, and when you see all those bodies, and you see somebody move. Man, thats enoughthats enough to shake you up. 230 00:47:25.1 MH: Some people dont actually believe that they found anybody alive there. 231 00:47:30.6 AP: No, this is it. But like I say, war is hell and if I told some storieswhich I wont tellI know people wouldnt believe me. So why the hellwhats the use in telling it? And theres a lot of guys who wontall that stuffand there are some guys, you cant shut em up. You know. They won the war by themselves. 232 00:48:10.5 MH: Right. If you think of anybody else that I should talk to, please send me an e-mail. 233 00:48:15.4 AP: All right. I was going to find out who you had. You got Tony Cardinale, and you got Jim Bird? 234 00:48:22.8 MH: Yes, I havent spoken with him yet. 235 00:48:25.1 AP: All right. You got Tony Cardinale, who else did I giveWeiskircher.Â Russel Weiskircher was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00145. 236 00:48:31.7 MH: Russ Weiskircher Ive talked to at length. Had a long talk with him. He was pretty close to Sparks. 237 00:48:40.9 AP: Yeah. And not only that, but he and I went over on the same ship. Would you believe this? 238 00:48:46.5 MH: He and you went over on the same ship? 239 00:48:48.3 AP: Yeah, we were on the same ship, and he was assigned to Company L, and I was assigned to Company K. And it was the wee hours of the morning, because they had just taken a terrible beating on Anzio. They thought theyd be pushed back into the sea. And they needed, so there was a ship that went over with 5,000, and we were part of that 5,000. Forget what they trained you for. All they needed was somebody who was breathing who could hold a gun. 240 00:49:24.3 MH: Did you ever run into a guy named Irv Rosenzweig; they called him Rosie?Â Irv Ross, n Rosenzweig, was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00118. 241 00:49:33.0 AP: No. No. Was he with the 45th? 242 00:49:37.3 MH: He was with an artillery unit that was attached to the 45th and made thehe was in North Africa and made the landing at Anzio. He only lives ten minutes from me, and Ive had long talks with him, and he showed me pictures that he took at Dachau. 243 00:49:52.8 AP: Jim Bird, he got hitJim Bird, I think he got hit four times while he was there. So I count my blessings. 244 00:50:6.2 MH: You take care of yourself. 245 00:50:9.1 AP: All right. Nice chatting with you. 246 00:50:9.1 MH: I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you very much. 247 00:50:12.3 AP: Bye-bye now.
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