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Dallas Peyton oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (49 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (22 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 July 18, 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 Dallas Peyton. Peyton was in a machine gun squad in the 20th Armored Division, which liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945, along with the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions. His unit was on its way to Munich when they were redirected to Dachau; the first thing they saw was the infamous death train. They entered the camp, leaving their tanks and trucks at the gate, and walked around inside, seeing the barracks and the crematorium. Peyton saw two particular prisoners, approaching him from different directions, who suddenly stopped and then quickly embraced: friends or relatives, neither had realized the other was still alive. He was at the camp for a couple of days, then went back in 2005 for the sixtieth anniversary. Peyton frequently gives presentations at schools, Jewish temples, and veterans' organizations.
Armored Division, 20th.
Armored Division, 20th
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
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.0 text Michael Hirsh: First of all, can you give me your full name and spell it for me, please? 1 00:00:5.7 Dallas Peyton: Dallas, like in Texas, Peyton, P-e-y-t-o-n. 2 00:00:10.8 MH: And your address? 3 00:00:11.9 DP: 4 00:00:12.9 MH: Your phone number is. 5 00:00:13.9 DP: Thats correct. 6 00:00:14.7 MH: Your e-mail is. 7 00:00:17.0 DP: Correct. 8 00:00:17.7 MH: And you were with the 20th Armored Division? 9 00:00:19.4 DP: Yes, I was. 10 00:00:20.8 MH: And you were with the guys who liberated Dachau? 11 00:00:23.3 DP: Yes. 12 00:00:24.3 MH: Whats your date of birth, sir? 13 00:00:26.7 DP: January 29, 1923. 14 00:00:29.8 MH: Just tell me a little bit about where you grew up and what you were doing before you went in the Army. 15 00:00:36.4 DP: Well, I grew up in a small town in western Kentucky, Paducah, and I guess just had a typical kids experiences through high school. I graduated in 1941, and then that fall, I was going towell, I did, enrolled in a college there in western Kentucky, which was Murray State Teachers College, I think, at that time. I was there when the December 7  incident happened, and I think nearly all the guys there signed up, and some got in a military program that would allow you to continue your school until they need you. And in the Army, thats what they call the ASTP, Army Specialized Training Program, that they would put you back into college, of course, and when you graduated as a second lieutenant and engineers, and thats what I signed up for. And in June 1943, I guess, yeah, I was called to active duty and I went to camp in Alabama for basic training. And from there, I was sent to a schoolwhat was the name I went to in Alabama? (asking wife) Well, for heavens sake, right now I cant think of the name of the school. 16 00:02:43.0 MH: Its okay. 17 00:02:43.7 DP: Where all the boys were, and I stayed there, and then in the spring, I was sent to Camp Campbell, Kentucky, to the 20th Armored Division. The 20th Armored Division, at that time, they were training replacements for the armored divisions in Europe. And when I got there, they were about in the middle of a cycle, so when that cycle was completed, all of them thatd been there the full time were shipped off overseas to replacement depots to go where needed, and I had to stay there and go through the full thing. By that time, we got filled up with other people from this ASTP program, and we went through the whole cycle of training and maneuvers, and then the entire division packed up and went to France. We got into Le Havre just about the time of the Battle of the Bulge. 18 00:03:54.0 MH: What kind of tanks did you have? 19 00:03:55.4 DP: Now, you asked me something I dont know. I was in the infantry, so I was in a half-track. 20 00:04:2.9 MH: Oh, okay. 21 00:04:4.4 DP: But they did have tanks. Ill tell you something later where you can get that information. 22 00:04:10.2 MH: You were in a half-track, thats like a truck with two front wheels and treads in the back. 23 00:04:18.1 DP: Yes. 24 00:04:18.8 MH: Whats the purpose of that vehicle? 25 00:04:21.9 DP: Well, theyre not as likely to get bogged down with those tracks as they would with just wheels, and they were armored to some extent. And I was in a machine gun squad. I was one of the two machine gunners. And my machine gun was mounted on a pedestal right behind the driver, and over where the passenger seat would be was a (inaudible) ring with a .50 caliber machine gun there that the squad leader used. And the other machine gun was on the back. 26 00:04:59.2 MH: You were on a .30 cal? 27 00:05:3.5 DP: Yes. 28 00:05:4.8 MH: So, they get you to Le Havre, and then what happens? 29 00:05:10.3 DP: Well, we stayed thereit took a little time to get the people off, but it took quite a while to get all the vehicles and stuff off, the tanks, half-tracks and everything. And when we did get off, we went to Belgium and we guarded the POWs theyd captured from the Battle of the Bulge. And they just had barbed-wire fenced areas with vehicles surrounding them, which would turn on their lights at night to light it up. When that was over, from there, we went into Holland and eventually crossed the river into Germany on pontoon bridges at night. And we werethe average division was in the Army Reserve unit, and lots of time we would travel at night to go do something if one of the infantry units got hung up, and most of the time we got there, it was all taken care of anyway. And we went across Germany pretty much the same way, and then 30 00:06:31.7 MH: What was your first combat? 31 00:06:34.1 DP: First combat? It almost was a mortar in my lap. We were in the convoy going somewhere, and a convoy at that time was a tank and an infantry was married to each other, each protecting the other, the infantry from the tanks and the tanks for us. So, shooting started up on the fourth column. We stopped, and we were on an overhead bridge for a railroad. It was down through a cut, and there was a mortar round landed in that railroad track over on the left side of us, and then we started telling that driver to get off that bridge, and he said, I cant, itll tear up my distance. They werethey had to keep those vehicles at a certain distance. He had a square painted on his windshield, and when that tank was in that square, he was the correct distance, you know, to keep one round or something from getting two vehicles. Then the mortar lit over on the other side of in there. At that time, we were getting desperate. We told him to move, he started, and my machine gun, I told you, was mounted behind him. I fully loaded that machine gun and pointed it down at him, and I said, You get us off this bridge or Im gonna blow you outta that seat. 32 00:07:55.4 Well, he brought us off the bridge before that mortar man out there could fire a third round. Someone called to see where they were coming from, and they were firing on him, so he set up a white flag. But knowing how those mortars worked, that third one wouldve been right in our lap. And then we had a mission to go capture a little town; we traveled at night, and we were supposed to take it in the morning. 33 00:08:27.1 MH: What was your unit? You were in the 20th Armored, but what was the unit you were in? 34 00:08:34.2 DP: I was in A Company of the 20thof the 70th Armored Infantry Battalion. 35 00:08:40.0 MH: Of the 75th? 36 00:08:41.3 DP: Seven-zero. 37 00:08:42.3 MH: Seven-zero, okay. 38 00:08:43.5 DP: Yeah, 70th Armored Infantry Battalion. And then Combat Command Reserve. They had combat commandin reserves. So, we were the division reserve. (inaudible) We got off the half-track, we had to stop and get it repaired, and then wed take off while everybody was gone, so we took off driving at night with little blackout lights, which doesnt mean much more than a lightning bug. And we approachedwe comeit was getting daylight. We come up to the town, we drove on through the town, got out on the other side, and we decided we were gonna stop and fix breakfast, which we did. We were out there cooking our breakfast when we heard the rumble of the armored coming, and up over the hill came a little scout car, with a 37mm cal like a stake and he finally pointed it right at us. We told the driver, Quick, turn the half-track sideways so they can see that white star, which he did. And they came on up. They were attacking the village we had come through. 39 00:09:56.8 MH: They were attacking the village youd already taken? 40 00:10:0.6 DP: Yeah. We didnt see a single German in there. But, yeah, that was one of our funnier instances, but it couldve been a bad one. 41 00:10:9.2 MH: Yes, it couldve. 42 00:10:10.8 DP: And later on, we were going to take another village down near Munich, and we got pulled off that detail. They gave it to another battalion, and we went on down and thats where we come upsaw this death train. I suppose you may have seen pictures of it. 43 00:10:31.5 MH: Ive heard of it. You guys werewhat the Army history books says is that you were spearheading the 42nd and the 45th Infantry Divisions. 44 00:10:39.7 DP: We were all aboutthere were three divisions that had elements that hit Dachau about the same time. About the same day, so yeah, and theyre the ones claim they were there first. 45 00:10:52.4 MH: And theyre still fighting that battle. 46 00:10:54.0 DP: Yeah, thatll die when the last one of whosoever of the three units survives: they can claim they were and nobodyll argue with it. 47 00:11:1.7 MH: Tell meso, did you know that camp was coming up? 48 00:11:9.4 DP: No. Well, this village we got pulled off of, one of the other units went up to it and they approached it, and there was white flags and white sheets everywhere hanging out. So, they got the lead elements, got in about the middle of the town, and the Germans opened up firing on them, and they killed the colonel of that combat command. His driver was shot. And when they got them all out of there, they called off and called in the artillery and the Air Force, and they flattened that town, literally flattened it. And Lord knows what they did. In the meantime, we went on down the road; we saw this train setting there with all these dead bodies in it. 49 00:12:0.6 MH: Did you get off the half-track to look at it? 50 00:12:2.3 DP: No. Not then. We went on down, and thats when we found Dachau. Much of what happened in Dachau, most of it, I dont remember. I guess its all blocked out except two things that Ive seen for the last sixty years. One of them was that train, and the others when we got inside the camp and saw two of these what I call walking skeletons were shuffling along, one in front of me and the other coming toward us, and those two guys stopped, stared at each other for a few minutes, then screamed and run together, hugging, kissing, hollering and crying. Up until that moment, neither knew the other was still alive. And I can see that right now. 51 00:12:51.1 MH: You describe them as walking skeletons. 52 00:12:57.2 DP: Im sorry? 53 00:12:58.4 MH: You describe them as walking skeletons. 54 00:13:0.5 DP: Yes. 55 00:13:1.1 MH: Were they short people, tall people? 56 00:13:3.3 DP: They were just normal people, but they just had been worked to the point of death. On the wrought iron gates of that concentration camp, and I think on most of them, it said Arbeit macht frei, which literally means Work can set you free. And I always first thought that was kind of ironic, and then I realized its true. They work you to death, and then youre free. And thats what these people were left there when we got there 57 00:13:32.1 MH: When you went into the camp, did you go through the big gates, the Jourhaus gates? 58 00:13:38.0 DP: Yes. 59 00:13:38.8 MH: You left your vehicle outside? 60 00:13:41.3 DP: Yes, our vehicles outside at that time. Our vehicleone got in the main gate, a tank, and wethis was a little after everything settled down when I was walking back in there and saw these two people. 61 00:14:3.1 MH: Were there any instructions that your commanders had given you about going inside? 62 00:14:7.4 DP: Not that I know of. We didnt know what it was, and the other elementsother things I read about units that come up on these things, they didnt know what they got into and didnt know what they were. 63 00:14:20.8 MH: Right. When you walked inside, had the infantry guys gone in ahead of you from the 42nd or 45th? 64 00:14:28.9 DP: I dont know. 65 00:14:31.6 MH: Did you see other American soldiers in there? 66 00:14:34.3 DP: Oh, yeah, there was Americans all around the place. 67 00:14:37.2 MH: What time of day was this? 68 00:14:40.6 DP: Well, let me tell you this: a few years ago, the Bavarian state government had a sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Dachau, which was 29 April 1949no 69 00:15:6.7 MH: Forty-five . 70 00:15:7.4 DP: Forty-five , and my wife and I and two other couples from the division, we went over there to see that. And while we was in there, we got familiar with some of the Dutch people, and one Dutchman asked me, Do you know when you got to Dachau? and I said, I havent the faintest idea what time it was. He says, I know. You got here at 17:15. 71 00:15:38.2 MH: How did he know? 72 00:15:40.2 DP: I had it wrong, sorry, fifteenyeah, 17:15. 73 00:15:43.8 MH: Thats 5:15 in the afternoon. 74 00:15:46.0 DP: Thats when he got liberated. Thats how he knows. Ill get back to that in a minute. 75 00:15:51.5 MH: So, youre walking around inside the camp, and you see that incredibly emotional moment between those two inmates. 76 00:16:2.7 DP: Yeah, and then othersthere were inmates in there. Some of them, Im actually wondering for a long time if we killed any. You see these people that havent had anything to eat for years, and we had all C rations, and you know how concentrated those food things were. And I wondered how many times they were given those C rations, which Im sure they ate, the way they were starving, and their constitution couldnt handle that kind of a sudden food. 77 00:16:43.0 MH: I think there are many stories about GIs feeding the people and the people dying as a result, until they were told by the medical officers, Dont give them anything. 78 00:16:54.3 DP: Yeah, Im sure that happened. 79 00:16:56.9 MH: What else did you see? Let me ask you, when you watched those two men, what did you think? 80 00:17:8.6 DP: Just, well, I was feeling happy for them, and as I said, I knew then that I dont know whether they were related or knew each otheror just knew each other. That they did, but I dont know if they were related or not, but they were sure happy to see somebody that they knew or was related to that they hadnt seen since captivity, and the place in there was justthe conditions were just bad. 81 00:17:45.9 MH: Describe it to me, cause Id like to see it through your eyes. 82 00:17:50.2 DP: Well, there was about forty-some-odd barracks in there, and the inside was justlets see, one, two, three, four-high bunk beds, which were just wooden frames, wooden floor in the beds, and thats what they slept on unless they could scrounge upwhich I think most of them did, from the looks of itpaper boxes or anything to put some padding down there. And thats what they lived on. And there was a crematorium at Dachau. It still is. Dachau is now a museum; its been kept open. 83 00:18:33.6 MH: Did you see the crematorium in 1945? 84 00:18:36.4 DP: I dont know. I dont know whether I did or not. And let me go back now to this reunion. I meanyeah, reunion. They put a very elaborate show on, the German government, the Bavarian government did: it lasted about four days. My wife and I went there, and I went there a day early, and we went out to the camp grounds. I wanted to go out there and see what kind of memories I could revive, dig up. I was sitting on a little concrete wall, and my wifes out taking pictures somewhere. And this young woman walked up to me, and said, Were you here in 1945? and I said, Yes, because I had on my cap and jacket. And then she started to ask questions, and said, Should we leave? and I said, No, Id rather have you here to talk to. About four or five guys came up there. We talked for about a half-hour until they said they had to go, that their tour bus was leaving. They were American GIs on tours over there to see that place. So, I didnt know the government was doing that, but apparently they did. Oh, boy. 85 00:20:7.6 MH: It brings it back, doesnt it? 86 00:20:9.6 DP: Yeah, and after the war was over, I went back to school at the University of Kentucky and joined the reserves when I got discharged, and after two years in there, taking advanced ROTC, which I took because they paid about $20 a month, which was big money then, and I got a commission, second lieutenant in the Signal Corps in 1949. So, I said, Well, I think Ill go back in the Army, probably as good as anything else popping up now. So, I did. Stayed until I retired in June 1940sixty-six . 87 00:20:55.9 MH: You retired in June of sixty-six ? 88 00:20:58.0 DP: Yes. I was in Fort Huachuca. And one of the vacation trips we had, I took the family over to Dachau. I wanted them to see it. And my oldest boy, whos now about sixty-one or so, he told a story a couple years ago that I had never heard before. And he said when we got up to the gate, I was staring those words, and he said they went on inside, and he looked around, and I was not there. So, David and I think his next-oldest brother come back to the gate looking for me, and they said when they got there, I was standing there, looking in crying. And he said, I know now what I didnt know as a kid: that my daddy was sitting there looking and seeing 1945. And he was probably right. That was an emotional roller coaster ride, going back there. 89 00:22:7.4 MH: What pulled you back there? 90 00:22:9.5 DP: I went back as soon as I knew they were going to put this on. I wanted to go back, I wanted to see. And mostly, I wanted to try to revive my memory of what I saw. That didnt help much, but I had never told my wife or anybody any of this what Im telling you. I think it was 2002, one of my grandsons called me. He was teaching history in a Christian academy, high school, and he said he had three history classes, and he said, Were in the World War II part. He wanted me to come as a guest lecturer on the three classes on what I did in the war. Well, I didnt want to do that, no more than the man in the moon, but at the same time, I couldnt tell my grandson no. So, I went over there with him, took a few things that I had. One of them was one of those Nazi flags that I took down over a fire station somewhere in Germany. I still have that thing. And I started talking to these kids and didnt do bad until I got to Dachau, and then from there on, I was crying more than I was talking. And thinking at the same time, these kids are thinking, You old fool, up there crying, but when I saw the looks on their faces later, I knew that wasnt so. 91 00:23:37.2 The second class was a repeat of the first one, and then we had lunch. And we started the last class, and got a few minutes, a knock came on the door, and Matt went up to the door, and it was another history teacher. Her class wanted to come in and see that. During the lunch hour, what transpired in those first two classes went all through that school, and her students wanted to come in, which they did. 92 00:24:9.7 MH: What city was this in? 93 00:24:11.6 DP: What what? 94 00:24:12.6 MH: What city was this in? 95 00:24:13.6 DP: Here in Tucson. 96 00:24:15.0 MH: In Tucson, okay. Go ahead. 97 00:24:16.9 DP: And they were there, and it was just a repeat. I cry more than I talk, and because its the first time Id ever let any of it out. And since then, I got in Fort Huachuca, they were having a Days of Remembrance, and they wanted anybody that was a survivor or liberator. I called up and talked to them, and they found I was a liberator, so I went down there for two or three days. And when I was down there, I met about five or six survivors of the Holocaust. One of them, his name was Saul Rozner. He came up to me first, grabbed me around the neck, hugged me, kissed on the cheek, and he says, Thats thanks, but its a little bit sixty years late. So, Saul and I got pretty chummy, and we made talks together. We made a radio talk show host here in Tucson one Sunday, and several places. Sauls gone now, but he had a brother in Dachau that died the day after we got there. 98 00:25:27.7 And that got me started going, and I started working with these survivors of which there are seventeen, I think, around here in Tucson and around. And I have made talks in three Jewish temples and I dont know how many schools now. I dont remember, but I finally got where I can talk without crying, and when we were at the first reunion that I even went to of the 20th Armored was in 2005, and that was in Washington, D.C., to coincide with the dedication of the Army Memorial. So, that was the first time I went there then. And that was another emotional thing, to go there. While we were there, we went to the Holocaust Museum. Have you seen that? 99 00:26:33.1 MH: Yes, I have. 100 00:26:33.8 DP: Yeah, thats quite a place. 101 00:26:35.8 MH: Why do you think you kept it bottled up inside you for all those years? 102 00:26:41.4 DP: Im sorry? 103 00:26:42.9 MH: Why do you think you kept it bottled up inside you for all those years? 104 00:26:46.5 DP: Too bad to talk about or even think about. Justand a lot of my other buddies, I found out, in the armored division. I even run across my assistant machine gunner lately, and hes said the same thing. His wife never knew. In fact, Howard just died here just very recently. And his wife said, He didnt say anything. First thing I knew was one of the girls coming home, talking something about the Dachau, and Howard said, Yeah, I was there. I helped liberate it, and thats the first hed ever said. So, I guess nobody went back and talked about it. 105 00:27:32.6 MH: Do you have any fear that what happened there will be forgotten? 106 00:27:40.9 DP: Well, thats what the Jewish survivors kept telling me, Dont let this ever be forgotten. And they said, You have a story to tell, and I said, I do not. They finally convinced me I did, and I guess I do, because I have been busy with this ever since about, well, aught-five the last five years, anywayIve been doing this. And Ive got where I can pretty much go through one without crying. One high school, I told the guy I was a liberator and had been talking several places, one of the survivors piped up and said, Yeah, he cries a lot, too. 107 00:28:28.3 MH: (laughs) That wasnt very nice. 108 00:28:31.5 DP: Huh? 109 00:28:32.5 MH: I said, that wasnt very nice. 110 00:28:34.2 DP: Oh, yeah, Lily was just teasing me. 111 00:28:36.2 MH: What do you say to the kids that impacts them the most? What is it that affects them the most? 112 00:28:43.9 DP: (coughs) Excuse me. (coughs) To impress upon them that they dont let something like this grow. If they see it, speak up, speak up, because there was a German Lutheran minister that made a poem while he was in Dachau. 113 00:29:7.5 MH: Reinhold Niebuhr. MH means Martin Niemller, to whom the famous poem First they came is attributed. Reinhold Niebuhr was a German American theologian and philosopher who wrote the Serenity Poem used by Alcoholics Anonymous. 114 00:29:8.4 DP: Huh? 115 00:29:9.0 MH: Niebuhr. 116 00:29:9.8 DP: Yeah. You heard it. When they come for me, well, I recited some of that in my speech to the kids, and the next time they come, they may be coming for you. Thats how I usually end them. 117 00:29:26.4 MH: How long did you spend in 1945, how long did you stay inside the gates at Dachau? 118 00:29:33.1 DP: I think we were there no more than a couple of days, and we went on. 119 00:29:39.8 MH: Thats actually a long time, compared to what most people did. 120 00:29:42.8 DP: Yeah, then we went on to Munich, and set there and watched the artillery bombard that place until we could go up there and clean it out. 121 00:29:55.0 MH: Where were you on V-E Day? 122 00:29:56.8 DP: On what? 123 00:29:57.8 MH: On V-E Day. 124 00:29:58.9 DP: Somewhere in Austria. I dont remember where. 125 00:30:2.0 MH: When you first saw the train outside the gates, what do you think? 126 00:30:12.6 DP: Well, at first, I thought it was people in there, and then I realized, No, thats not people. Theyre just thrown in there like little logs in a car, thatscould see em then. And then we didnt stop, we kept going, and I dont know what I thought. Shock beyond belief. 127 00:30:37.1 MH: Were you a religious person? 128 00:30:41.0 DP: Yes. 129 00:30:42.0 MH: Are you still? 130 00:30:43.6 DP: Im sorry? 131 00:30:45.9 MH: Are you still a religions person? 132 00:30:47.3 DP: Yes. 133 00:30:48.1 MH: How, if any way, did what you saw affect the way you feel about God? 134 00:30:55.3 DP: Well, thats another story. 135 00:31:0.5 MH: Tell me. 136 00:31:1.7 DP: Lets save that for a while. 137 00:31:2.9 MH: Okay. 138 00:31:4.4 DP: After we got there, we didnt talk. And when I got back to Germany in aught-five  and realized that the German people, my age at that time, was in a denial state. There was no such thing. It never happened. 139 00:31:28.5 MH: When was this? That There was no such thing, it never happened. 140 00:31:35.1 DP: At the time. I remember when we had stopped somewhere for a day at some small town, and they had discovered one of those mass graves. And they had the German POWs go over there and dig it up, open it up, and the American military government marched everybody in that town, with no exceptions except maybe the children, out to see that open pit full of bodies, to realize, There it is. 141 00:32:7.5 MH: This was after V-E Day? 142 00:32:9.1 DP: No. 143 00:32:11.4 MH: No. 144 00:32:12.1 DP: It was before. 145 00:32:13.9 MH: Before, but after youd been to Dachau? 146 00:32:15.8 DP: Yes. Well, no, I dont think so; itd been before. 147 00:32:19.5 MH: So, you saw this happening. 148 00:32:22.5 DP: Yeah, I didnt go out there. I didnt want to see it. But I dont know that any of our people did, but it was right near where we were. I dont know, it was something. 149 00:32:38.7 MH: Did they have to force the German people to go look at it? 150 00:32:41.2 DP: Yes, they did. 151 00:32:42.1 MH: At gunpoint? 152 00:32:43.9 DP: Yeah, they made em go look at it, then I think that happened in various places where those things were, they made the people go out and look at it. So, you cannot honestly say, It never happened. The Germans of todays young generation, they want to know. The ones right after, in mid-times, kind of indifferent. But now the youngsters today, the Germans, they want to know what happened. 153 00:33:14.4 MH: It would beif I had been in your position, it would be difficult for me to look at German civilians having seen Dachau or the other camps and 154 00:33:31.1 DP: No, I had no problems. When we went back in 1945 andno, I got stopped out on the streets in Washington, I was walking there, from people. And then when we were there in Germany, the people realized that, yes, it did happen, and Dachau is now a museum. All the barracks except one have been torn down, but their foundations are there with a marker, memorial for the barracks number. And the crematorium is still there. 155 00:34:13.8 MH: But in 1945, the German civilians who lived near many of the camps said, We dont know anything. We didnt know it was there. We didnt see it. We know nothing. 156 00:34:26.6 DP: Pretty much so, yeah. 157 00:34:28.5 MH: It wouldve made me very angry. 158 00:34:35.4 DP: Well, yeah, it did, but theres not much you can do about it. But, yeah. And in a way, I guess, I can understand if I was them, I wouldnt know about it, either. Didnt want to admit that wed ever done such a thing. 159 00:35:1.2 MH: So, come back to the question I asked you about God. 160 00:35:5.9 DP: Okay. In November, December, about like that last year, I had a visionnot a dream, it was a vision. Because in dreams, things happen haphazard, and this other was very logical. I was walking through a tunnel, but it wasnt really a tunnel, to me, it was like a huge drainpipe that I could stand up and walk through, to a light out at the end of the tunnel. When I stepped out into the light, there was the gates to heaven. St. Peter and Gabriel were there. One of them, I dont know which, ran over and closed the gate saying, You may not enteryeah, big deal, huh?and said, Your time is not yet here. Go back and finish the job. 161 00:36:5.0 And as he said that, Im now immediately standing in a hospital room, looking at about a ten-year-old boy propped up in a bed. The boy had on a heavy blue jacket with a brown fake fur collar, and the longer I was standing there looking at him, and I realized, Thats me Im looking at. And that was the end of the vision, abruptly. Just like that. So, I didnt know what it was all about, and Ive prayed kind of a whole lot from that time up to tell me what the job is that you want done. And then on May 4, a Sunday, I had an engagement with the youth at our church that we go to. 162 00:36:59.2 MH: What church do you belong to? 163 00:37:1.2 DP: Catalina Methodist Church. And the youth minister had given me that time for that night, so I got there a little early, and they were on the lawn playing some kind of dodgeball game, so time to go up, so they had to go upstairs. Iron stair steps. Stair steps and I dont get along too well. Two of the boys helped me get up there, and I gave the talk. I had a short question-and-answer period. And then the youth minister started off on something else, and I told my wife, Come on, lets go, because I told her after that, Were going out to the Outback. I want a blooming onion and a steak. 164 00:37:40.6 MH: What talk did you give? 165 00:37:42.4 DP: To the kids? The same one I give to all of them. 166 00:37:45.3 MH: About Dachau? 167 00:37:49.6 DP: Yeah, about Dachau, what I saw, what I did. Pretty much the same thing. And then when I got to that stairs, two of the big boys came up immediately and pretty much carried me down those steps, and I thanked them, and I said, I can get out to the car okay now, because my wife was driving. She and I walked out to the curb to the car, and I stood there and just kind of put my hands on top of the car waiting for her to go around the other side and unlock the door. When I heard the door lock click, I opened the door and got in the car and sat down. The minute my butt hit that cushion, the lights went out. I was unconscious. Which threw my wife into a panic, and she was telling me some of the things. She was trying to rouse me up, and got people, three or four people coming around there to see whats going on. 168 00:38:42.8 The next thing, after I hit that cushion, I remember hearing a female voice that says, Im calling the meds, and out again. And then I remember when the paramedics got there, they had two vehicles, and one of them come around to the door, opened the door and said, Can you turn around put your feet out of here so we can get to you better? I did. What they did to me then, I dont know. I dont remember anything. Next thing I remember was getting on that gurney, and they put it into the ambulance. And my wife wanted to say something to me, and the medic said, No, we dont have time. The next thing I ever heard after I got in there was hearing him tell the driver, Were going code, meaning red lights and siren. 169 00:39:35.5 And I dont know what they did, but there were three people in there working on me (inaudible) code, and the other thing I did hear a conversation when they called into the ER room, telling them what they were bringing in. (coughs) Excuse me. 170 00:39:54.7 MH: Okay. 171 00:39:57.0 DP: What they were bringing in. My blood pressure was eighty over twenty; pulse rate was twenty-two. Thats why they were in a hurry. 172 00:40:8.0 MH: I hope theyI hope they hurried a lot. 173 00:40:11.6 DP: Yeah. Then I remember in the ER room one time, I asked did I have a heart attack, and a female voice said, We dont know yet. The next thing I know, Im upstairs in the cardiac intensive care unit, and my wife and a couple of the boys had got there that night. The next morning, I called in the head chiefthe big doctor for the surgery unit, I guess, for cardiac. He came in with all of his students. This is a teaching hospital at the university, teaching hospital. And all his students, they liked to go around and make their rounds every day. And he was asking them questions and talking to them, and he told me. 174 00:41:3.6 He said, You definitely did not have a heart attack, and I said, What caused it? and he said, Old age. So, he explained to me about the four chambers of the heart and four valves and said, The only thing working in your heart was the two lower valves. He said, Were going to put in a pacemaker. I said, When do they do that? This was Monday morning, and he said, I hope we get it done some time tomorrow. Well, the lady doctor in charge of me, she came in, and they put it in that Monday evening about five oclock. And then Tuesday, well, I woke up and they said, Well, you dont need ICU anymore. Were putting you down in the regular cardiac ward. So, I stayed in there a day or so til they let me go home. 175 00:41:55.9 And that is my contact. To me, I said, Okay, I have no doubt of what my job is. I was just finished talking to the kids, and I got in the car, and I passed out. And come to in the hospital, and that was all timed perfectly. I didnt fall down those stair steps; I didnt fall down in the church yard going to the car, where I could hurt myself. I passed out when I was in the car, seated. And to me, that was justand my family even admits, like one of my sons said, Well, the more you think about it, the more logical it gets that that what is what Im to do, is go outthe program Ive got most schools out now, so Ill probably wont get much until this fall. But thats my contact with God. Thats how he answered my prayers. Im convinced of that. 176 00:43:3.7 MH: Thats good. Im glad youre okay. This was just two months ago. 177 00:43:9.6 DP: Yeah. Very recent on that. In fact, I had booked a tour to fly to England and get on a cruise ship and go all around all the British Isles and stay there for a few times, had it already booked. And the kids got too worried and convinced Mama that what if something happens while youre over there? Well, she got to worrying so much, I didnt pay much attention to the kids, and she got to worrying so much. And I said, Okay, well cancel it, because if we go over there, youll be scared to death Im going to fall, and you wont enjoy it anyway, so I canceled that tour. Lost what wed put down for airplane tickets, but got the rest of it back. So, yeah. 178 00:43:54.8 MH: What business or profession did you have most of your life? 179 00:44:3.0 DP: Im sorry? 180 00:44:3.5 MH: What was your job for most of your life? 181 00:44:5.7 DP: Well, when I got out of the Army and came back and got discharged (inaudible), I worked for a contractor that had a government contract for a while, and then I started doing my own little lamp repair work. Lots of people here in the South, they go down to Mexico and buy these tin lamp fixtures and wall brackets, chandeliers, everything, and bring them back over here, and they get wired up for a fixture. So, I opened up my own little shop, and thats what I did for about twenty-five years, I guess, working on that. 182 00:44:54.9 MH: Thats after you retired from the Army? 183 00:44:56.2 DP: Yup, and I closed that up in December 1999. I dont even do that anymore. 184 00:45:5.8 MH: How do you like retirement? 185 00:45:7.8 DP: Oh, its just fine. I also belonged to the Tucson Police Department: they have a civilian group, the Police Assist group, where our job primarily was helping fund a search-and-rescue within the city for people that get lost, children or sometimes senile old people would get out and walk away and find them. And Ive been doing that for about thirty years, last November. So, yeah, I keep busy. 186 00:45:44.2 MH: Thats good. Can I ask you, do you have a photo of you from World War II? 187 00:45:52.6 DP: Nope. 188 00:45:54.5 MH: Nope? What about a photo when you went back to Dachau? 189 00:45:58.7 DP: Oh, I can get you some pictures; in fact, I made a DVD over that whole thing. 190 00:46:7.2 MH: What I need is aif you have it, is a good still picture of you in Dachau. If you want it with your wife, that would be okay too, but something that shows where you are. 191 00:46:17.9 DP: Okay. You know about the 20th Armored Division? I think it was about two years ago, we published a history book written by the son of one of our members in the war. Its a magazine size and almost an inch thick, and I think theyre $25 a copy. If youre interested in one, I can contact the people thats got them and you can work out if you want to buy one. 192 00:46:53.5 MH: Okay, what Id like to do is, I can send you an email that has my address and phone number and everything, and if you could put me in touch with those people, or put them in touch with me so I can get a copy 193 00:47:5.0 DP: I can do that. 194 00:47:6.4 MH: Okay. And if you could find a good photo of yourself that shows you at Dachau, when you went back on one of these trips, Id appreciate getting a good copy of that, and Ill scan it and then return the original back to you. 195 00:47:21.7 DP: No, you can keep it, because Illitll be a copy of some that I have. 196 00:47:25.7 MH: Okay, just so that itsjust make sure its a good picture of you, you know, so we can see you there. 197 00:47:31.5 DP: Yeah, I will. 198 00:47:32.8 MH: Okay. 199 00:47:33.7 DP: When we went through the Holocaust Museum, up there somewhere with my kids, it got out that I was one of the liberators, immediately they turned me into a room where there was a man in there making video talks from people, and he made one with me. And that is on the Internet. 200 00:47:57.0 MH: Okay. 201 00:47:57.7 DP: And the book that they sold. 202 00:48:1.2 MH: Okay. 203 00:48:2.6 DP: Yeah, I can get you a picture. 204 00:48:4.1 MH: All right. But you dont have anything from back in the nineteenyou know, the nineteenthe army days, in the forties [1940s]? 205 00:48:11.0 DP: I dont think so, but 206 00:48:13.4 MH: Okay. 207 00:48:14.0 DP: Ill look, and if we do, Ill enclose it. 208 00:48:16.2 MH: Okay. 209 00:48:17.1 DP: Ill wait til I hear from you on this other, and then Ill contact 210 00:48:21.4 MH: Okay, Ill send you an e-mail right after we hang up. 211 00:48:23.9 DP: Okay. And Ill have it in the morning. 212 00:48:26.5 MH: Okay. Mr. Peyton, thank you very, very much. I appreciate you taking the time, and I know that its an emotional thing to talk about this; it has been for most of the men Ive interviewed. And so, I really appreciate it. 213 00:48:40.9 DP: Well, youre welcome. 214 00:48:43.0 MH: Okay, sir. Have a good evening and stay healthy. 215 00:48:46.7 DP: Thank you, I will. Ill hear from you later. 216 00:48:49.1 MH: Okay. Bye-bye.
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