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Sal Salvio oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (40 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (27 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).
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.
Oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Sal Salvio. Salvio was a tank driver in the 4th Armored Division, which liberated Ohrdruf on April 4, 1945. As his unit was driving through the forest, they came to a clearing and could see chimneys with smoke coming out of them. They went to investigate and found Ohrdruf, where the guards quickly scattered. Salvio was at the camp for a couple of days, during which time he saw the barracks and crematorium, and he was there when the local townspeople were brought in. In this interview, he describes his job as a tank driver and speaks about what it was like to be in a battle in a tank.
Armored Division, 4th.
Armored Division, 4th
v Personal narratives.
Ohrdruf (Concentration camp)
World War, 1939-1945
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
text Michael Hirsh: Okay. Â Let me just read it. Â Your name is Sal?
Sal Salvio: Yes. Â Sal Salvio.
MH: And you live at.
MH: And your phone is.
MH: And whats your date of birth?
SS: November 8, 1919.
MH: Nineteen nineteen .
SS: Im an old geezer.
MH: An old geezer. Â Most of the people Im talking to are old geezers, and I just had my sixty-fifth birthday, so Im getting up there, too.
SS: Oh, you got a lot of time yet. Â I was bouncing around when I was your age.
MH: From your lips to Gods ears. Â When I was up there, we just had another grandbaby.
SS: I just came from my post. Â I just left the post. Â I got home from the post.
MH: Oh, okay. Â So, where were you growing up before you went in the Army?
SS: Where was I what?
MH: Where did you grow up?
SS: Oh, in Astoria.
MH: In Astoria.
SS: In Queens.
MH: Okay. Â And what were you doing when you went into the Army? Â What were you doing as a civilian?
SS: In the service?
MH: No, before you went into the service.
SS: Oh, I wasI had all different types of jobs. Â Its hard to say, mostly mechanical work.
MH: Okay. Â And were you drafted?
SS: Oh, yeah.
MH: So, whered they send you?
SS: First, I believe, I went to Kentucky, and then to Pine Camp, New York. Â That was the main camp, Pine Camp.
MH: Kentuckyyou went to Fort Knox?
SS: With the 4th Armored Division.
MH: Okay. Â And Pine Camp, New Yorkyou were already with the 4th Armored?
SS: Im trying to think where we made up the armored division. Â Its a long time.
MH: Yes. Â How did you feel about getting assigned to armor?
SS: How was I what?
MH: How did you feel about getting assigned to an armored division?
SS: Well, Ill tell you, it was a little scary at first, but you learn after a while. Â So, I wound up being a tank driver.
SS: I drove an M4 tank.
MH: How long does it take to learn how to drive one of those things?
SS: Well, when youre a regular driver of anythingyou know, its two sticks you have to operate actually to steer. Â I dont know. Â Were you ever in a tank?
MH: Ive never been in a tank, no.
SS: Oh, all right. Â Its like a truck, but it steers with two levers, a right and a left lever. Â You push that back, the right one, if you want to make a right turn; you push the right lever back. Â And the same with the left: either right or left. Â You know?
MH: Okay. Â Were youI mean, a lot of people think about tanks as being steel coffins.
SS: They were. Â They were. Â People are right. Â You never know when youre gonna get hit, and then when you get hit, theres no outs. Â You dont get out of a tank, onceespecially [when] the Germans had the 88. Â They went right through the side of our tank, the shells, you know. Â When the shell comes in, it bounces all over inside. Â It rips everything up, you included, when youre in a tank. Â Its very, very bad, very bad.
MH: So, you were around when other tanks in your unit got hit?
MH: You were around when other tanks in your unit got hit.
SS: Well, I didnt get hit directly, you know, on the side. Â I got hit a couple of times on my bogey wheel. Â Theyre called bogey wheels: those are the wheels that are inside the track of the tank, and once them things get hit, it disables the tank. Â You gotta jump out and look for cover.
MH: Tell me what its like when you get hit. Â What happens?
SS: Well, what happens is very scary, because you gotta try to escape, you gotta jump out. Â Sometimes some of the tanks had the bottom of the droptheres a plate in the bottom of the tank, and its got a lever. Â You push the lever and the plate falls down to the ground, and you can get out. Â But sometimes, you dont have a chance to do that, and you look to get out any other way, so you gotta jump out through the turret. Â You know what Im talking about, what a turret is?
MH: Yes, of course.
SS: Thats wherethe gunner is inside that turret. Â The driver and the co-driver are in the front part of the tank, and the only way you could see is through the slitthrough a slit. Â Am I boring you with this?
MH: No, no, no, no, no! Â Youre not boring me at all. Â Go ahead.
SS: The only way you can look through the slit to seewhile youre in combat, that is. Â Otherwise, you could adjust your seat to come up: your head comes out of the front end of the tank. Â Understand?
SS: Theres like two covers in the front, over your head. Â You push the cover up, and you push a lever and the seat brings you up enough where you could see all around. Â Then, when theres shells flying or artillerys coming in, you drop yourself down and you close the hatchwe call it a hatchand youre in cover. Â So, myself and my assistant driver would both get down and take shelter. Â Then we left it to the fellows in the turret, where you had the machine gun and your cannon, you know, sticking out. Â We had to depend on them to take care of us.
MH: When a round hits the bogey wheels, whats it feel like and whats it sound like?
SS: Oh, you dont feel anything, cause its below you. Â All it is that the tank quits going, cause its all broken up. Â The wheelthe bogey wheels go, and the track comes off the bogey wheel. Â Thats it. Â You just gottaif youre actually firing at each other, you know, the German tanksthey had a beautiful tank. Â The Germans had a very terrific tank, and the bigger gun. Â They had the 88mm, and we had the 75mm with a short barrel, which wasnt too good. Â They had the 88 with the long barrel. Â The longer the barrel, the further the projectile would go. Â You understand?
SS: So go ahead. Â You gotta ask me the questions.
MH: So, when you get hit, I mean, is there a loud explosion inside? Â You go deaf?
SS: You what?
MH: Is there a loud explosion inside?
SS: Oh, no, not unlessnot if it explodes in the tank. Â It has to hit the gas tank on the side of the tank. Â But, actually, when youre in combat, you dont fire withwhat do you call artillery, combustion? Â Its armored piercing. Â These shells that got on the front of the armor is armored piercing, so it would go through the tank; of course, thats the only way youre gonna knock out a tank. Â When that thing comes in, if youre in there, forget about it. Â Youre dead, youre gone, the whole crew; except sometimes the driver and the co-driver jump out, and those guys are stuck in the turret. Â You understand?
SS: Once that shell goes in, thats it. Â They had a tremendousthat gun was terrific. Â It went right through our armor, like two and a half inch [thick] armor. Â You understand?
MH: So, that has to scare the crap out of you, being in one of those things.
MH: That has to scare the hell out of you, being in one of those things.
SS: Oh, you have no idea. Â You have no idea, really. Â Anybody says they werent scared(laughs) you really worried about it, every littleno matter where we went through the towns in Germany. Â When we went through some of the towns there, you never knew when you were gonna get hit, because they had their guns hidden all over the place.
MH: You remember the first tank battle you were in?
SS: We were in so many; its hard to say.
MH: An early one, when you werent a real vet?
SS: Im trying to think of some of the towns we were in. Â You know, right now I cant even
MH: Thats okay.
SS: In fact, I was reading one of our books, and it was bringing back some of the memories that Id forgotten, you know. Â Its hard to remember exactly where we were, but it was the mainsee, we had a tremendouswell, at the time, he was only a major. Â He turned out to be one of the best. Â And my commander, Major [Edward] Bautz; his name was Bautz, Major Bautz. Â He was very good, very, very intelligent. Â He took us around and told us what to do, cause like I said, when youre in a tank, you dont see anything. Â You can hardly see anything, only that little slit, while youre in combat. Â But him himself, the commander, hes up in the turret sticking out. Â I seen where some of those commandersthey didnt have to be a colonel or a major, they could be like a first sergeant or a buck sergeant as a commander. Â Ive seen a couple of guys cut right in half, hanging out of the turret, their bodies chopped right in half, just strings holding em. Â If you would see some of that, itd make you sick.
MH: Did you know Albin Irzyk
Albin Irzyk was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. Â The DOI for his interview is C65-00062.
MH: Albin Irzyk? Â He became the battalion commander.
SS: He what?
MH: He became your battalion commander at one point.
SS: What was his name?
SS: Irzyk? Â Not really.
MH: He went on to become a one-star general.
SS: What was his name?
MH: Albin Irzyk. Â I-r-z-y-k.
SS: Gee, not really. Â I cant believe that
MH: He was the battalion commander when you got to Ohrdruf.
SS: Ohrdruf? Â In Ohrdruf?
MH: In Ohrdruf, yeah.
SS: A commander? Â A battalion commander? Â He was a battalion commander?
MH: He was a lieutenant colonel by then.
SS: Oh, well, they all gotsee, these fellows, most of them come out of West Point, and they come out as first lieutenants. Â We got a couple in our outfits, and they all turned out to be like majors and lieutenant colonels, all the different denominations. Â Jeez, let mecould you take a second and wait?
MH: Sure. Â Yeah.
SS: What the heck was his name? Â Oh, did you hear of Abrams?
MH: Yeah, Creighton Abrams.
SS: Aha! Â Thats the guy. Â He was, I think, the best general thatwell, he wasnt a general when he was with us. Â Him and I used to trade cigars. Â Hed come in, like I told you, as a first lieutenant, and he turned out veryyou know, got promoted fast. Â I think he was a major when he left us, and became a four-star general.
MH: He became Chief of Staff.
SS: He was the greatestI dont care, they can say anything about Patton. Â Patton was this, Patton was that. Â This guy, in combat, you never saw a man so intelligent and made you feel so safe.
MH: What did he actually do that made you?
SS: Abrams tank. Â He was the best, Abrams.
MH: Tell me what was good about him.
SS: What was good about him?
SS: Everything! Â He was good with the men, he was fair, and he was intelligent, lets put it that way. Â He saved us, I believesee, Patton wasnt in all the battles we were in, you know. Â He came later. Â But Abrams was right there with us in combat, actually fighting with us. Â I was in the second tank, Dwights tankin the second tank. Â He was always up in front. Â Usually they dont do that, these big shots. Â They ride back, like the second or third tank. Â We had about eighteen tanks in our battalion, or so. Â You know what I mean?
SS: And he would be right up in the front. Â You never heard of Abrams?
MH: Yeah, of course I did. Â When I was in Vietnam, he was the Chief of Staff of the Army.
SS: There you are. Â Thats when he left; he left us. Â But when he left us, boy, you could wanna cry. Â He was so great. Â Well, I liked him. Â We used to swap cigars. Â He used to come over to me and ask me if I had one, and hed come over and say, You want a cigar? you know. Â He was already, I think, a major at the time. Â But he come in as a kid, a first lieutenant, from West Point.
MH: Tell me about going to the concentration camp, to Ohrdruf.
SS: Oh. Â What do you want to know? Â It was horrible, Ill tell you that much.
MH: Tell me from the beginning. Â When did you first realize it was there?
SS: Well, we didnt know where we were going. Â We were told thatthey dont really tell you everything in the beginning. Â As were going, were going through the woods. Â I dont even know where the heck it was. Â Were getting fire, gunfire, you know, artillery and whatnot. Â We break through the woods and then we got into a clearing, and we looked. Â From a distance, all we could see was chimneys, you know, smoke coming out of chimneys. Â And that was it. Â That was the camp, the concentration camp. Â We went in right away to save whatever we canyou know, the people.
MH: But you didnt know what it was that time, did you?
SS: No. Â Well, you know, they didnt tell us they were gonna go for that. Â They didnt say, Oh, were gonna go to this camp, concentration camp, and so forth. Â It was best sometimes that they didnt tell you, you know what I mean?
SS: So, we got in and we see this big, big camp with barbed wire all around, high fences, and smoke coming out. Â When we went in, we could see a lot of activity, a lot of the Germans that were escaping, running away from us. Â You could see them running around, actually. Â Then, nothing was there except the prisoners, and they were laying all over the place. Â They were starving to death: they were all bones, thats all, skins and bones. Â We went over, tried to help as many as we can, give em food or something. Â You couldnt even feed them. Â They were gone. Â You know what I mean?
SS: Oh, it was horrible, really horrible. Â I never seen anything like it. Â I never thoughtwho would have thought to see anything like that? Â We thought that there wasnt such a thing, but there was. Â It was terrible.
MH: Did you see a lot of dead bodies when you got there?
SS: Oh, forget about it! Â They were all over the place! Â The ones that were alive, they really werethey were dead, but they werent dead. Â You understand what I mean?
SS: They were ready to go. Â There were hundreds of them, all over the place. Â We went into the building where they had the big furnaces, and they had these, like, metallike a stretcher, but out of metal. Â They would put the bodies on that and shove em in, into the fire, and then pull the what-do-you-call-it out, so thatit was all iron, anyway. Â You could seethe things were laying all over when we went in there. Â They were doing away with a lot of the prisoners then, when we went in. Â You understand?
MH: Right. Â Were there still shots being fired when you went in?
SS: I didnt hear that.
MH: Were there still shots being fired when you went in?
SS: No, no. Â No, cause once we got in, they took off. Â There was no firing. Â We hadyou know, we fired into the camp, cause we know that there were Germans in there, and we never got a chance to even capture any. Â Well, a few of them that were sick themselves, you know; we got a few. Â But it wasnt worth it anyway, cause all those people thatthere were hundreds and hundreds of them laying around, dead bodies and bodies piled up. Â You oughta see, like, little mountains or hills of bodiesI got a few pictures of them; I wish you could see itwith arms and legs sticking out. Â All dead, big piles, like.
MH: How old were you at the time?
SS: I went in, I think I was twentyI forgot, twenty-two or twenty-three. Â Twenty-two, like that. Â Yeah, about that.
MH: About twenty-two?
MH: I mean, thats a hell of a sight for a young kid to see.
SS: We were young kids, you know. Â Whoever saw something like that? Â It was bad enough trying to survive, trying to live through the thing, without going into this camp and seeing that. Â That destroyed us altogether. Â Really bad, really, really bad.
MH: How did the guys react to it? Â What do you do? Â I mean, what do you say to your buddies?
SS: Oh, we all feltwe couldnt believe it. Â You couldnt believe it, lets put it that way. Â You say it isnt so, and were standing there stunned. Â Were stunned to see this, you know. Â We ate good and everything in the service; we had everything good. Â Then, when you see these bodiesmost of them were Jewish people. Â They just took em and slaughtered em. Â They took them out of the townsdid you ever see the pictures of the railroads that took all these people from the towns?
SS: They put em in these boxcars and everything, telling them theyre gonna go to a different state to live. Â Everything, kids, women, men. Â Put em all in there, and then they would drive themI mean, not drive them, but the train would take them right into the concentration camp. Â They had barracks there. Â You ever see those barracks? Â Oh, boy! Â Terrible!
MH: Did you go into the barracks?
SS: Theyre just like wooden planks, like for beds, and they put em in there. Â Got a couple of (inaudible) in there, and put them to work for labor until they just couldnt take it anymore, and theyd just pass out. Â The food was verythey got very little food, very little. Â Then they just laid around. Â They couldnt use [them] anymore, and they couldnt get rid of em fast enough in the oven. Â Put em in the oven: gone. Â Really bad. Â When they put em in the oven, they werent alive, really; they were actually dead. Â And there was piles over there ready to go in.
MH: Did prisoners come and try to talk to you?
SS: Did we? Â Oh, yeah. Â Some of them come over to hug us and everything. Â We hadthe only ones that were really in good shape, pretty good shape, were the ones that were, liketheir own people that were prisoners to them. Â You know that I mean?
MH: Oh, the kapos? Â The guard?
SS: The what?
MH: They called them kapos.
SS: Whatever, I dont even remember what the hell they call them. Â But those were the only ones that looked in pretty good shape. Â Thats how they survived, by going against their own people. Â You know what I mean? Â Not against them; they were forced to do it. Â You couldnt blame them, really. Â Well, it was horrible, really, reallyyou wouldnt believe it. Â I still cant believe it! Â (laughs)
MH: Were there any chaplains with you guys?
MH: Were there any Army chaplains with you?
SS: Army what?
MH: Chaplains. Â Priests?
SS: Oh, the chaplain?
SS: Uh, not really.
MH: I was just wondering if you ever hadif a chaplain ever talked to you guys about what you saw in the camps.
SS: No. Â I dont even remember. Â I dont remember seeing any chaplains. Â No.
MH: Okay. Â So, how long did you stay in the camp when you went in?
SS: Oh, not too long: a couple of days, thats all, cause then we had to leave again. Â We had to go; we were still in combat.
MH: When you went in that first night or first day, did you stay in the camp that night or did you go out of the camp?
SS: No, we had to take positions, you know, and guard the camp for counterattack, if they were gonna counterattack while they were takingwell, they were going through our offices, taking whatever they had to do there to clear up before we left. Â Then we had to leave some people there, which we got a lot of the town people to come in and help out with the prisoners that were still alive.
MH: Were you there when the town people were brought in and made to come in and
SS: Oh, you wouldnt believe it!
MH: Well, try me.
SS: They brought the people in. Â They made them march through the camp, thousands of them lined up. Â We just went looking. Â We were stunned to see all these people. Â Who were these people? Â They sent in one of the outfitsit wasnt ours, the fighting outfit, but guys that were with us, and they sent them in to get all the people in town. Â No matter what they were doing, they had to leave and come to the camp. Â When they marched in, they wanted to show these people what the Germans did. Â And, oh, my God, some of them were screaming and crying when they saw all these bodies piled up. Â People were faintingthe women; some women were fainting. Â Some of them, they didnt give a damn, I dont think, either; but some of them were good people. Â They had to be good people. Â Some of them passed out in front of us there after what they saw. Â You know, bodies around, piled up, and some laying there and some looking up at you. Â Theyre like skeletons, looking up at you, like waving. Â You didnt know what they were doing, but they were out of their minds, like they didnt know what they were doing. Â And these people watching, seeing that, the commanders wanted them to see what they did to these people. Â It was terrible, really, unbelievable.
MH: A lot of these people were the same people who said, We didnt know what was going on.
SS: Thats it! Â A lot of them said, We didnt know this. Â We didnt know. Â Nobody knew nothing. But they all knew what was going on. Â These were all neighbors; that would have been the vicinity.
MH: They had to smell it.
SS: And some of them worked in the camps. Â You know, civilians; they worked in the camps. Â But we dont know who worked or who didnt work; there were so many people there.
MH: What was the smell like?
SS: The what?
MH: What was the smell like?
SS: You know, its a funny thing. Â It wasnt that bad.
SS: Really. Â Course, they were burning up the dead, you know. Â Just the smokestack; you smelled the smoke, but you didnt realize what was blowing away, like. Â Those were high chimneys they had. Â Actually, it stunk a little bit, but not like you would think, to see all these bodies around. Â The ones that you saw around, they were still alive; they werent completely dead. Â You know what I mean?
SS: And what they were doing, they were putting the ones that were dead in the oven and burned them up.
MH: Okay. Â And who came in to take care of the survivors?
SS: Oh, I dont know. Â The rear echelon guys, you know. Â We were up in the front. Â I guess we had a lot of trucks coming in with personnel, American soldiers and whatnot coming in. Â Of course, we had to leave; we couldnt stay there anymore. Â We had to go to our nextoh, then weoh, thats right. Â I forgot what town that was in. Â We headed for this town, and before we got there we hit a lot of 88s on the road, so we had to get off the road and ride in the woods. Â Get off the main road where the guns were, you know. Â We came upon a big, big area, and thats where they hadlike we have the West Point here? Â Thats what they had there. Â Theyd never had any idea that we were coming in. Â It was all official German generals and whatnot, the majors.
There was, like, a school. Â It was a tremendous, big area. Â And when we got in, we all jumped out of our tankseverybody, from all the tanksand we surrounded the whole area and we went in and got them all out of their barracks, brought em out half-dressed, right in a big field, all of them, all the officers. Â Then our intelligence department, they came and did their job, whatever they had to do. Â All these guys, they were surprised that we were there. Â Oh, it was early in the morning, thats what it was, real early. Â I think it was daybreak when we first went in. Â They never expected us. Â Unbelievable.
MH: You remember the name of that place?
SS: No. Â I got it here someplace, in one of my books. Â Now that were talking, Im in my room, my bedroom, and I gotIm lookinghold it. Â This thing here, General Pattons talking with God, something like that. Â I dont know if you heard of that.
MH: What was it?
SS: Oh, miraculous. Â General Pattons miraculous talk with God.
MH: Oh, okay.
SS: Did you heard of something like that?
MH: Ive heard of that.
SS: I got a book in front of me now with that headline. Â Im not the most intelligent fellow to speak to, but
MH: Youre doing fine.
SS: Let me see. Â I wish you could be here; Id give you a lot of this literature. Â You know that?
MH: The one thing I would likedo you have a picture of you from World War II?
SS: A picture of me?
SS: Well, Im looking at my wall now, (laughs) and I see a picture of me. Â Now that you remind me, could I have been that young?
SS: I got a picture.
MH: From Germany?
SS: I dont know if its from Germany or from a camp. Â Before I went into combat, maybe.
MH: Yeah. Â I mean, its a good picture of you?
SS: A what?
MH: Its a good picture?
SS: Oh, yeah. Â Its a little photo, like half of my body. Â At the time, I was a T-4. Â You know whats a T-4?
MH: What is that, a technical sergeant?
SS: Well, all of the tank driversthis one here, I was a T-5, before I became a T-4. Â See, T-4 is one rank higher. Â Its likeT-5 is like a corporal, T-4s a sergeant.
MH: Oh, okay.
SS: Only it has a T under the stripes.
MH: Right, I know it.
SS: Were you in the service?
MH: Yeah, I was in Vietnam. Â I was an Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. Â I was in the 25th Division.
SS: Oh, thats great. Â I got a lot of stuff here. Â Oh, my God. Â You know, its a funny thing. Â Before you callednow, do you have the time?
SS: Before you called, I was looking through the medals, my medals. Â I didnt find what I wanted, and I was looking and looking, and then my wife got the call and shes calling me. Â Its funny. Â I just left my post a little while ago.
MH: What, Legion post?
SS: Justoh, what time is it now?
SS: Around an hour and a half ago. Â We had lunch and everything; you know, we have all the guys.
MH: Was this the American Legion or VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars]?
SS: The what?
MH: American Legion or VFW?
SS: Oh, no, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Â All my buddiesyou spoke to Harry Feinberg
Harry Feinberg was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. Â The DOI for his interview is C65-00041.
MH: Yeah, I was at the reunion
SS: Hes great. Â Hes great. Â He is intelligent. Â He could remember everything.
MH: Yeah, I went back to his house.
SS: The what?
MH: I went to Harrys house.
SS: Oh, really?
MH: And did an interview with him.
SS: Oh, great. Â The nicest guy you want to know.
SS: Nicest, a real gentleman.
MH: But he wouldnt play the harmonica for me.
SS: He was the greatest harmonica player.
MH: Yeah, I know.
SS: He played with the Rascals.
MH: I know.
SS: The Harmonica Rascals?
MH: So, if I want to borrow a picture of you from the Army, could I do that? Â And then Ill copy it and send it back to you.
SS: Yeah, you could do that. Â You have to give me your address.
MH: Okay. Â Do you have email?
SS: Ill let my wife write it down for me.
MH: Okay. Â Let me ask you one more question.
MH: Whatd you do when you came back from the war?
SS: Oh. Â Well, I didnt work for about eight or nine months, maybe.
MH: Were you wounded there?
MH: Were you wounded?
SS: Yeah, butI went to first aid, and I stood there overnight. Â I dont know why they even kept me there; it was just a littleoh, on my leg. Â I forgot. Â A piece of shrapnel, just a littlebut they wanted everything to be reported, so I did that, and they sent me to the medics. Â When I got there, I said, What am I doing here? Â I dont want to get I was afraid I was gonna leave my outfit; you know, I figured theyre gonna keep me there, and the next thing you know Im gonna wind up with a different outfit. Â You dont wanna do that when youre in with the guys.
SS: So, what I did, I heard that my outfit was gonna pass through, and I took off without telling them. Â I just put my clothes on and I took off. Â That was it. Â I got back with my outfit, as the outfit passed. Â I got myself and another guy from another outfit. Â We both did the same thing. Â As my outfit passed, I saw my tank go through and so forththe column, you know.
MH: Yeah. Â What do you do, just flag em down and jump on?
SS: I just waited there, and my Colonel Abrams, at the time, he saw me and he went like this, like What are you doing here? you know. Â He didnt expect me. Â But they kept going, and then a half-track in the rearthey were going pretty slow. Â I ran after the half-track and I jumped in the half-track, and they were all my buddies in there. Â You know, I knew em all. Â And we kept going, until we got to our next destination. Â I forgot where we were going. Â Then I saw the colonel, or the major, and he asked me how come I did this? Â You shouldnt have done that; you should have told them youre leaving, and all that. Â I said, Yeah, I know, but they wouldnt let me go. Â He was proud of me, anyway, that I came back! Â He liked me a lot. Â So, then we just continued, and went. Â He said, What happened to your wound, and I told him, It was just like a little scratch on my knee, you know. Â I had a hole in my pants. Â Unbelievable. Â A little piece of shrapnel just must have passed. Â But they wanted everything to be reported. Â Thats what I did, but it was stupid that I even did that. Â I should have just kept quiet altogether. Â But I didnt get no report on it or anything.
MH: So, you didnt get your Purple Heart?
SS: No. Â (laughs) I couldve got worse than a Purple Heart, (laughs) cause I really didnt do the right thing by taking off. Â To me, it was, cause I wanted to be with my outfit, you know.
MH: Right. Â Did you see any other concentration camps?
SS: Any others?
SS: No, that was the main one.
MH: That was the one.
SS: Even though we knew there was something, some other ones. Â What was the other ones? Â You know their names?
MH: Well, there are a lot of them.
SS: Yeah. Â Well, the ones right where we were, like Ohrdruf, near there, anyway. Â But it was horrible to see. Â Oh!
MH: Did you ever have nightmares about it?
MH: Did you ever have nightmares about it?
SS: Well, sort of. Â Not real bad, butyou know, when youre a young kid, its terrible. Â You have no idea.
MH: When you came home, did you try and explain it to your family?
SS: Did I what?
MH: When you came home, did you try and tell your family about it?
SS: Oh, not really. Â At that time, you didnt even want to talk about it, really. Â You know? Â Until later on, when people start asking you this; then you had to tell them.
MH: So, did you describe what you saw to people?
SS: Did I describe that to them?
SS: Oh, yeah.
MH: How did they
SS: They wouldnt believe it. Â (laughs)
MH: Thats my question. Â How did they react to it?
SS: Yeah, thats what Im saying. Â They said, Oh, it cant be, it cant be. Â But it was. Â It was bad, Im telling you. Â Now that its all over with, and at my age now, I start thinking. Â How could that be? Â What kind of a world is that? Â How could you treat a human being like that? Â Oh, those poor people. Â It was horrible. Â You know what? Â I dont know at the time, but first I thought it was all Jewish prisoners. Â But it was not, it was a lot of different: Czechoslovakian, what other
SS: Polish, a lot of Polish. Â I should have mentioned that first, because there wasI mean, maybe just as many Polish as there was Jewish. Â The majority of them were the Jewish prisoners. Â Oh, its unbelievable. Â What else, Mike? Â I wish you were here.
MH: I think that about does ityou didnt have any pictures of the camp, did you?
SS: I gotits a funny thing. Â I have some, something. Â Could youyou got time, Mike?
MH: Sure. Â Yeah, go ahead.
SS: I got a thing about the Battle of the Bulge, or the Battle of Bastogne. Â You heard of that?
MH: Of course.
SS: Bastogne, we went from Bastogne to C-h-a-m-p-s, Champs, with the 101st Airborne. Â They, I think, got encircled over there, and we freed them. Â They landed there, and thats a big story. Â Jesus, I got a lot of articles here. Â Jeez, I could send you em.
MH: Dont send me articles. Â What Im looking for, though, is if you have any pictures.
SS: Well, like I told you, I have to look for the pictures of the camp.
SS: You would love to see that, describing the death of people. Â All right?
MH: Okay. Â Are these pictures that you took or that somebody else took?
SS: Oh, no. Â Somebody took them, and I wound up with them somehow. Â I dont know how.
MH: Okay. Â All right. Â Well, I will send you an envelope.
SS: What else?
MH: Thats about it. Â I cant think of anything else.
SS: Well, if I see anything thats interesting, Ill send it.
SS: Besides that. Â All right?
MH: Thank you very much.
SS: Thank you, Mike.
MH: Okay. Â Bye-bye.
SS: Take care.
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