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Sal Salvio oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Sal Salvio oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (40 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Salvio, Sal, 1919-
Hirsh, Michael, 1943-
University of South Florida Libraries -- Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center
University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Concentration camps -- History -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Germany   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Liberation   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Tank warfare   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Atrocities   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Veterans -- United States   ( lcsh )
Veterans -- Interviews -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genocide   ( lcsh )
Crimes against humanity   ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
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.
Venue:
Interview conducted
Preferred Citation:
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, ©2010 Michael Hirsh.
Language:
Transcripts, excerpts, or any component of this interview may be used without the author's express written permission only for educational or research purposes. No portion of the interview audio or text may be broadcast, cablecast, webcast, or distributed without the author's express written permission.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
General Note:
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsh (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 025699090
oclc - 690240486
usfldc doi - C65-00119
usfldc handle - c65.119
System ID:
SFS0022167:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text
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text Michael Hirsh: Okay.  Let me just read it.  Your name is Sal?
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Sal Salvio: Yes.  Sal Salvio.
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MH: S-a-l-v-i-o.
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SS: Right.
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MH: And you live at.
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SS: Right.
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MH: And your phone is.
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SS: (laughs)
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MH: And whats your date of birth?
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SS: November 8, 1919.
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MH: Nineteen nineteen [1919].
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SS: Im an old geezer.
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MH: An old geezer.  Most of the people Im talking to are old geezers, and I just had my sixty-fifth birthday, so Im getting up there, too.
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SS: Oh, you got a lot of time yet.  I was bouncing around when I was your age.
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MH: From your lips to Gods ears.  When I was up there, we just had another grandbaby.
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SS: I just came from my post.  I just left the post.  I got home from the post.
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MH: Oh, okay.  So, where were you growing up before you went in the Army?
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SS: Where was I what?
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MH: Where did you grow up?
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SS: Oh, in Astoria.
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MH: In Astoria.
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SS: In Queens.
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MH: Okay.  And what were you doing when you went into the Army?  What were you doing as a civilian?
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SS: In the service?
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MH: No, before you went into the service.
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SS: Oh, I wasI had all different types of jobs.  Its hard to say, mostly mechanical work.
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MH: Okay.  And were you drafted?
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SS: Oh, yeah.
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MH: So, whered they send you?
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SS: First, I believe, I went to Kentucky, and then to Pine Camp, New York.  That was the main camp, Pine Camp.
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MH: Kentuckyyou went to Fort Knox?
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SS: With the 4th Armored Division.
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MH: Okay.  And Pine Camp, New Yorkyou were already with the 4th Armored?
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SS: Im trying to think where we made up the armored division.  Its a long time.
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MH: Yes.  How did you feel about getting assigned to armor?
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SS: How was I what?
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MH: How did you feel about getting assigned to an armored division?
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SS: Well, Ill tell you, it was a little scary at first, but you learn after a while.  So, I wound up being a tank driver.
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MH: Okay.
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SS: I drove an M4 tank.
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MH: How long does it take to learn how to drive one of those things?
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SS: Well, when youre a regular driver of anythingyou know, its two sticks you have to operate actually to steer.  I dont know.  Were you ever in a tank?
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MH: Ive never been in a tank, no.
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SS: No?
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MH: No.
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SS: Oh, all right.  Its like a truck, but it steers with two levers, a right and a left lever.  You push that back, the right one, if you want to make a right turn; you push the right lever back.  And the same with the left: either right or left.  You know?
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MH: Okay.  Were youI mean, a lot of people think about tanks as being steel coffins.
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SS: They were.  They were.  People are right.  You never know when youre gonna get hit, and then when you get hit, theres no outs.  You dont get out of a tank, onceespecially [when] the Germans had the 88.  They went right through the side of our tank, the shells, you know.  When the shell comes in, it bounces all over inside.  It rips everything up, you included, when youre in a tank.  Its very, very bad, very bad.
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MH: So, you were around when other tanks in your unit got hit?
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SS: What?
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MH: You were around when other tanks in your unit got hit.
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SS: Well, I didnt get hit directly, you know, on the side.  I got hit a couple of times on my bogey wheel.  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.  You gotta jump out and look for cover.
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MH: Tell me what its like when you get hit.  What happens?
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SS: Well, what happens is very scary, because you gotta try to escape, you gotta jump out.  Sometimes some of the tanks had the bottom of the droptheres a plate in the bottom of the tank, and its got a lever.  You push the lever and the plate falls down to the ground, and you can get out.  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.  You know what Im talking about, what a turret is?
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MH: Yes, of course.
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SS: Thats wherethe gunner is inside that turret.  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.  Am I boring you with this?
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MH: No, no, no, no, no!  Youre not boring me at all.  Go ahead.
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SS: The only way you can look through the slit to seewhile youre in combat, that is.  Otherwise, you could adjust your seat to come up: your head comes out of the front end of the tank.  Understand?
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SS: Theres like two covers in the front, over your head.  You push the cover up, and you push a lever and the seat brings you up enough where you could see all around.  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.  So, myself and my assistant driver would both get down and take shelter.  Then we left it to the fellows in the turret, where you had the machine gun and your cannon, you know, sticking out.  We had to depend on them to take care of us.
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MH: When a round hits the bogey wheels, whats it feel like and whats it sound like?
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SS: Oh, you dont feel anything, cause its below you.  All it is that the tank quits going, cause its all broken up.  The wheelthe bogey wheels go, and the track comes off the bogey wheel.  Thats it.  You just gottaif youre actually firing at each other, you know, the German tanksthey had a beautiful tank.  The Germans had a very terrific tank, and the bigger gun.  They had the 88mm, and we had the 75mm with a short barrel, which wasnt too good.  They had the 88 with the long barrel.  The longer the barrel, the further the projectile would go.  You understand?
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MH: Yes.
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SS: So go ahead.  You gotta ask me the questions.
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MH: So, when you get hit, I mean, is there a loud explosion inside?  You go deaf?
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SS: You what?
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MH: Is there a loud explosion inside?
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SS: Closure?
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MH: Explosion.
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SS: Oh, no, not unlessnot if it explodes in the tank.  It has to hit the gas tank on the side of the tank.  But, actually, when youre in combat, you dont fire withwhat do you call artillery, combustion?  Its armored piercing.  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.  When that thing comes in, if youre in there, forget about it.  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.  You understand?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: Once that shell goes in, thats it.  They had a tremendousthat gun was terrific.  It went right through our armor, like two and a half inch [thick] armor.  You understand?
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MH: So, that has to scare the crap out of you, being in one of those things.
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SS: What?
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MH: That has to scare the hell out of you, being in one of those things.
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SS: Oh, you have no idea.  You have no idea, really.  Anybody says they werent scared(laughs) you really worried about it, every littleno matter where we went through the towns in Germany.  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.
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MH: You remember the first tank battle you were in?
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SS: We were in so many; its hard to say.
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MH: An early one, when you werent a real vet?
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SS: Im trying to think of some of the towns we were in.  You know, right now I cant even
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MH: Thats okay.
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SS: In fact, I was reading one of our books, and it was bringing back some of the memories that Id forgotten, you know.  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.  He turned out to be one of the best.  And my commander, Major [Edward] Bautz; his name was Bautz, Major Bautz.  He was very good, very, very intelligent.  He took us around and told us what to do, cause like I said, when youre in a tank, you dont see anything.  You can hardly see anything, only that little slit, while youre in combat.  But him himself, the commander, hes up in the turret sticking out.  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.  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.  If you would see some of that, itd make you sick.
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MH: Did you know Albin Irzyk
Albin Irzyk was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project.  The DOI for his interview is C65-00062.
?
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SS: Who?
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MH: Albin Irzyk?  He became the battalion commander.
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SS: He what?
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MH: He became your battalion commander at one point.
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SS: What was his name?
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MH: Irzyk.
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SS: Irzyk?  Not really.
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MH: He went on to become a one-star general.
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SS: What was his name?
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MH: Albin Irzyk.  I-r-z-y-k.
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SS: Gee, not really.  I cant believe that
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MH: He was the battalion commander when you got to Ohrdruf.
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SS: Ohrdruf?  In Ohrdruf?
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MH: In Ohrdruf, yeah.
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SS: A commander?  A battalion commander?  He was a battalion commander?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: No.
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MH: He was a lieutenant colonel by then.
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SS: Oh, well, they all gotsee, these fellows, most of them come out of West Point, and they come out as first lieutenants.  We got a couple in our outfits, and they all turned out to be like majors and lieutenant colonels, all the different denominations.  Jeez, let mecould you take a second and wait?
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MH: Sure.  Yeah.
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SS: What the heck was his name?  Oh, did you hear of Abrams?
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MH: Yeah, Creighton Abrams.
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SS: Aha!  Thats the guy.  He was, I think, the best general thatwell, he wasnt a general when he was with us.  Him and I used to trade cigars.  Hed come in, like I told you, as a first lieutenant, and he turned out veryyou know, got promoted fast.  I think he was a major when he left us, and became a four-star general.
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MH: He became Chief of Staff.
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SS: He was the greatestI dont care, they can say anything about Patton.  Patton was this, Patton was that.  This guy, in combat, you never saw a man so intelligent and made you feel so safe.
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MH: What did he actually do that made you?
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SS: Abrams tank.  He was the best, Abrams.
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MH: Tell me what was good about him.
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SS: What was good about him?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: Everything!  He was good with the men, he was fair, and he was intelligent, lets put it that way.  He saved us, I believesee, Patton wasnt in all the battles we were in, you know.  He came later.  But Abrams was right there with us in combat, actually fighting with us.  I was in the second tank, Dwights tankin the second tank.  He was always up in front.  Usually they dont do that, these big shots.  They ride back, like the second or third tank.  We had about eighteen tanks in our battalion, or so.  You know what I mean?
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MH: Right.
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SS: And he would be right up in the front.  You never heard of Abrams?
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MH: Yeah, of course I did.  When I was in Vietnam, he was the Chief of Staff of the Army.
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SS: There you are.  Thats when he left; he left us.  But when he left us, boy, you could wanna cry.  He was so great.  Well, I liked him.  We used to swap cigars.  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.  He was already, I think, a major at the time.  But he come in as a kid, a first lieutenant, from West Point.
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MH: Tell me about going to the concentration camp, to Ohrdruf.
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SS: Oh.  What do you want to know?  It was horrible, Ill tell you that much.
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MH: Tell me from the beginning.  When did you first realize it was there?
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SS: Well, we didnt know where we were going.  We were told thatthey dont really tell you everything in the beginning.  As were going, were going through the woods.  I dont even know where the heck it was.  Were getting fire, gunfire, you know, artillery and whatnot.  We break through the woods and then we got into a clearing, and we looked.  From a distance, all we could see was chimneys, you know, smoke coming out of chimneys.  And that was it.  That was the camp, the concentration camp.  We went in right away to save whatever we canyou know, the people.
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MH: But you didnt know what it was that time, did you?
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SS: No.  Well, you know, they didnt tell us they were gonna go for that.  They didnt say, Oh, were gonna go to this camp, concentration camp, and so forth.  It was best sometimes that they didnt tell you, you know what I mean?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: So, we got in and we see this big, big camp with barbed wire all around, high fences, and smoke coming out.  When we went in, we could see a lot of activity, a lot of the Germans that were escaping, running away from us.  You could see them running around, actually.  Then, nothing was there except the prisoners, and they were laying all over the place.  They were starving to death: they were all bones, thats all, skins and bones.  We went over, tried to help as many as we can, give em food or something.  You couldnt even feed them.  They were gone.  You know what I mean?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: Oh, it was horrible, really horrible.  I never seen anything like it.  I never thoughtwho would have thought to see anything like that?  We thought that there wasnt such a thing, but there was.  It was terrible.
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MH: Did you see a lot of dead bodies when you got there?
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SS: Oh, forget about it!  They were all over the place!  The ones that were alive, they really werethey were dead, but they werent dead.  You understand what I mean?
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MH: Yes.
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SS: They were ready to go.  There were hundreds of them, all over the place.  We went into the building where they had the big furnaces, and they had these, like, metallike a stretcher, but out of metal.  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.  You could seethe things were laying all over when we went in there.  They were doing away with a lot of the prisoners then, when we went in.  You understand?
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MH: Right.  Were there still shots being fired when you went in?
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SS: I didnt hear that.
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MH: Were there still shots being fired when you went in?
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SS: No, no.  No, cause once we got in, they took off.  There was no firing.  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.  Well, a few of them that were sick themselves, you know; we got a few.  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.  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.  All dead, big piles, like.
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MH: How old were you at the time?
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SS: I went in, I think I was twentyI forgot, twenty-two or twenty-three.  Twenty-two, like that.  Yeah, about that.
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MH: About twenty-two?
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SS: Yeah.
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MH: I mean, thats a hell of a sight for a young kid to see.
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SS: We were young kids, you know.  Whoever saw something like that?  It was bad enough trying to survive, trying to live through the thing, without going into this camp and seeing that.  That destroyed us altogether.  Really bad, really, really bad.
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MH: How did the guys react to it?  What do you do?  I mean, what do you say to your buddies?
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SS: Oh, we all feltwe couldnt believe it.  You couldnt believe it, lets put it that way.  You say it isnt so, and were standing there stunned.  Were stunned to see this, you know.  We ate good and everything in the service; we had everything good.  Then, when you see these bodiesmost of them were Jewish people.  They just took em and slaughtered em.  They took them out of the townsdid you ever see the pictures of the railroads that took all these people from the towns?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: They put em in these boxcars and everything, telling them theyre gonna go to a different state to live.  Everything, kids, women, men.  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.  They had barracks there.  You ever see those barracks?  Oh, boy!  Terrible!
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MH: Did you go into the barracks?
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SS: Theyre just like wooden planks, like for beds, and they put em in there.  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.  The food was verythey got very little food, very little.  Then they just laid around.  They couldnt use [them] anymore, and they couldnt get rid of em fast enough in the oven.  Put em in the oven: gone.  Really bad.  When they put em in the oven, they werent alive, really; they were actually dead.  And there was piles over there ready to go in.
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MH: Did prisoners come and try to talk to you?
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SS: Did we?  Oh, yeah.  Some of them come over to hug us and everything.  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.  You know that I mean?
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MH: Oh, the kapos?  The guard?
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SS: The what?
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MH: They called them kapos.
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SS: Whatever, I dont even remember what the hell they call them.  But those were the only ones that looked in pretty good shape.  Thats how they survived, by going against their own people.  You know what I mean?  Not against them; they were forced to do it.  You couldnt blame them, really.  Well, it was horrible, really, reallyyou wouldnt believe it.  I still cant believe it!  (laughs)
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MH: Were there any chaplains with you guys?
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SS: What?
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MH: Were there any Army chaplains with you?
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SS: Army what?
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MH: Chaplains.  Priests?
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SS: Oh, the chaplain?
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MH: Yeah.
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SS: Uh, not really.
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00:21:37.6
MH: I was just wondering if you ever hadif a chaplain ever talked to you guys about what you saw in the camps.
163
00:21:44.2
SS: No.  I dont even remember.  I dont remember seeing any chaplains.  No.
164
00:21:54.4
MH: Okay.  So, how long did you stay in the camp when you went in?
165
00:22:2.6
SS: Oh, not too long: a couple of days, thats all, cause then we had to leave again.  We had to go; we were still in combat.
166
00:22:11.5
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?
167
00:22:18.1
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.  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.
168
00:22:50.2
MH: Were you there when the town people were brought in and made to come in and
169
00:22:54.0
SS: Oh, you wouldnt believe it!
170
00:22:56.3
MH: Well, try me.
171
00:22:57.5
SS: They brought the people in.  They made them march through the camp, thousands of them lined up.  We just went looking.  We were stunned to see all these people.  Who were these people?  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.  No matter what they were doing, they had to leave and come to the camp.  When they marched in, they wanted to show these people what the Germans did.  And, oh, my God, some of them were screaming and crying when they saw all these bodies piled up.  People were faintingthe women; some women were fainting.  Some of them, they didnt give a damn, I dont think, either; but some of them were good people.  They had to be good people.  Some of them passed out in front of us there after what they saw.  You know, bodies around, piled up, and some laying there and some looking up at you.  Theyre like skeletons, looking up at you, like waving.  You didnt know what they were doing, but they were out of their minds, like they didnt know what they were doing.  And these people watching, seeing that, the commanders wanted them to see what they did to these people.  It was terrible, really, unbelievable.
172
00:24:35.7
MH: A lot of these people were the same people who said, We didnt know what was going on.
173
00:24:39.9
SS: Thats it!  A lot of them said, We didnt know this.  We didnt know.  Nobody knew nothing. But they all knew what was going on.  These were all neighbors; that would have been the vicinity.
174
00:24:53.9
MH: They had to smell it.
175
00:24:54.7
SS: And some of them worked in the camps.  You know, civilians; they worked in the camps.  But we dont know who worked or who didnt work; there were so many people there.
176
00:25:6.1
MH: What was the smell like?
177
00:25:7.6
SS: The what?
178
00:25:8.6
MH: What was the smell like?
179
00:25:10.3
SS: You know, its a funny thing.  It wasnt that bad.
180
00:25:15.6
MH: Really?
181
00:25:16.5
SS: Really.  Course, they were burning up the dead, you know.  Just the smokestack; you smelled the smoke, but you didnt realize what was blowing away, like.  Those were high chimneys they had.  Actually, it stunk a little bit, but not like you would think, to see all these bodies around.  The ones that you saw around, they were still alive; they werent completely dead.  You know what I mean?
182
00:25:46.5
MH: Yeah.
183
00:25:47.4
SS: And what they were doing, they were putting the ones that were dead in the oven and burned them up.
184
00:25:52.6
MH: Okay.  And who came in to take care of the survivors?
185
00:25:57.7
SS: Oh, I dont know.  The rear echelon guys, you know.  We were up in the front.  I guess we had a lot of trucks coming in with personnel, American soldiers and whatnot coming in.  Of course, we had to leave; we couldnt stay there anymore.  We had to go to our nextoh, then weoh, thats right.  I forgot what town that was in.  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.  Get off the main road where the guns were, you know.  We came upon a big, big area, and thats where they hadlike we have the West Point here?  Thats what they had there.  Theyd never had any idea that we were coming in.  It was all official German generals and whatnot, the majors.
186
00:27:3.7
There was, like, a school.  It was a tremendous, big area.  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.  Then our intelligence department, they came and did their job, whatever they had to do.  All these guys, they were surprised that we were there.  Oh, it was early in the morning, thats what it was, real early.  I think it was daybreak when we first went in.  They never expected us.  Unbelievable.
187
00:27:54.0
MH: You remember the name of that place?
188
00:27:55.5
SS: No.  I got it here someplace, in one of my books.  Now that were talking, Im in my room, my bedroom, and I gotIm lookinghold it.  This thing here, General Pattons talking with God, something like that.  I dont know if you heard of that.
189
00:28:24.8
MH: What was it?
190
00:28:25.6
SS: Oh, miraculous.  General Pattons miraculous talk with God.
191
00:28:35.5
MH: Oh, okay.
192
00:28:38.1
SS: Did you heard of something like that?
193
00:28:39.7
MH: Ive heard of that.
194
00:28:40.5
SS: I got a book in front of me now with that headline.  Im not the most intelligent fellow to speak to, but
195
00:28:55.3
MH: Youre doing fine.
196
00:28:58.1
SS: Let me see.  I wish you could be here; Id give you a lot of this literature.  You know that?
197
00:29:5.0
MH: The one thing I would likedo you have a picture of you from World War II?
198
00:29:8.6
SS: A picture of me?
199
00:29:10.0
MH: Yeah.
200
00:29:10.9
SS: Well, Im looking at my wall now, (laughs) and I see a picture of me.  Now that you remind me, could I have been that young?
201
00:29:24.0
MH: Yeah.
202
00:29:25.9
SS: I got a picture.
203
00:29:27.1
MH: From Germany?
204
00:29:30.5
SS: I dont know if its from Germany or from a camp.  Before I went into combat, maybe.
205
00:29:37.4
MH: Yeah.  I mean, its a good picture of you?
206
00:29:42.5
SS: A what?
207
00:29:43.4
MH: Its a good picture?
208
00:29:44.5
SS: Oh, yeah.  Its a little photo, like half of my body.  At the time, I was a T-4.  You know whats a T-4?
209
00:29:58.3
MH: What is that, a technical sergeant?
210
00:29:59.6
SS: Yeah.
211
00:30:0.4
MH: Yeah.
212
00:30:1.1
SS: Well, all of the tank driversthis one here, I was a T-5, before I became a T-4.  See, T-4 is one rank higher.  Its likeT-5 is like a corporal, T-4s a sergeant.
213
00:30:19.2
MH: Oh, okay.
214
00:30:20.0
SS: Only it has a T under the stripes.
215
00:30:23.1
MH: Right, I know it.
216
00:30:24.8
SS: Were you in the service?
217
00:30:25.9
MH: Yeah, I was in Vietnam.  I was an Army combat correspondent in Vietnam.  I was in the 25th Division.
218
00:30:33.2
SS: Oh, thats great.  I got a lot of stuff here.  Oh, my God.  You know, its a funny thing.  Before you callednow, do you have the time?
219
00:30:44.9
MH: Yeah.
220
00:30:45.6
SS: Before you called, I was looking through the medals, my medals.  I didnt find what I wanted, and I was looking and looking, and then my wife got the call and shes calling me.  Its funny.  I just left my post a little while ago.
221
00:31:2.8
MH: What, Legion post?
222
00:31:3.8
SS: Justoh, what time is it now?
223
00:31:8.0
MH: Four
224
00:31:9.3
SS: Around an hour and a half ago.  We had lunch and everything; you know, we have all the guys.
225
00:31:13.5
MH: Was this the American Legion or VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars]?
226
00:31:16.3
SS: The what?
227
00:31:17.1
MH: American Legion or VFW?
228
00:31:18.5
SS: Oh, no, the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  All my buddiesyou spoke to Harry Feinberg
Harry Feinberg was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project.  The DOI for his interview is C65-00041.
?
229
00:31:29.2
MH: Yeah, I was at the reunion
230
00:31:31.9
SS: Hes great.  Hes great.  He is intelligent.  He could remember everything.
231
00:31:38.1
MH: Yeah, I went back to his house.
232
00:31:40.7
SS: The what?
233
00:31:41.7
MH: I went to Harrys house.
234
00:31:42.8
SS: Oh, really?
235
00:31:43.7
MH: And did an interview with him.
236
00:31:45.1
SS: Oh, great.  The nicest guy you want to know.
237
00:31:49.2
MH: Yep.
238
00:31:49.9
SS: Nicest, a real gentleman.
239
00:31:52.7
MH: But he wouldnt play the harmonica for me.
240
00:31:54.3
SS: He was the greatest harmonica player.
241
00:31:56.8
MH: Yeah, I know.
242
00:31:57.6
SS: He played with the Rascals.
243
00:31:58.6
MH: I know.
244
00:31:58.4
SS: The Harmonica Rascals?
245
00:31:59.9
MH: Yep.
246
00:32:0.7
SS: Yeah.
247
00:32:2.2
MH: So, if I want to borrow a picture of you from the Army, could I do that?  And then Ill copy it and send it back to you.
248
00:32:9.4
SS: Yeah, you could do that.  You have to give me your address.
249
00:32:17.4
MH: Okay.  Do you have email?
250
00:32:20.7
SS: Ill let my wife write it down for me.
251
00:32:23.0
MH: Okay.  Let me ask you one more question.
252
00:32:31.6
SS: Yeah?
253
00:32:31.8
MH: Whatd you do when you came back from the war?
254
00:32:35.4
SS: Oh.  Well, I didnt work for about eight or nine months, maybe.
255
00:32:45.0
MH: Were you wounded there?
256
00:32:46.2
SS: Huh?
257
00:32:47.1
MH: Were you wounded?
258
00:32:48.0
SS: Yeah, butI went to first aid, and I stood there overnight.  I dont know why they even kept me there; it was just a littleoh, on my leg.  I forgot.  A piece of shrapnel, just a littlebut they wanted everything to be reported, so I did that, and they sent me to the medics.  When I got there, I said, What am I doing here?  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.  You dont wanna do that when youre in with the guys.
259
00:33:30.7
MH: Yes.
260
00:33:31.7
SS: So, what I did, I heard that my outfit was gonna pass through, and I took off without telling them.  I just put my clothes on and I took off.  That was it.  I got back with my outfit, as the outfit passed.  I got myself and another guy from another outfit.  We both did the same thing.  As my outfit passed, I saw my tank go through and so forththe column, you know.
261
00:34:5.4
MH: Yeah.  What do you do, just flag em down and jump on?
262
00:34:7.8
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.  He didnt expect me.  But they kept going, and then a half-track in the rearthey were going pretty slow.  I ran after the half-track and I jumped in the half-track, and they were all my buddies in there.  You know, I knew em all.  And we kept going, until we got to our next destination.  I forgot where we were going.  Then I saw the colonel, or the major, and he asked me how come I did this?  You shouldnt have done that; you should have told them youre leaving, and all that.  I said, Yeah, I know, but they wouldnt let me go.  He was proud of me, anyway, that I came back!  He liked me a lot.  So, then we just continued, and went.  He said, What happened to your wound, and I told him, It was just like a little scratch on my knee, you know.  I had a hole in my pants.  Unbelievable.  A little piece of shrapnel just must have passed.  But they wanted everything to be reported.  Thats what I did, but it was stupid that I even did that.  I should have just kept quiet altogether.  But I didnt get no report on it or anything.
263
00:35:38.0
MH: So, you didnt get your Purple Heart?
264
00:35:39.3
SS: No.  (laughs) I couldve got worse than a Purple Heart, (laughs) cause I really didnt do the right thing by taking off.  To me, it was, cause I wanted to be with my outfit, you know.
265
00:35:53.5
MH: Right.  Did you see any other concentration camps?
266
00:35:56.8
SS: Any others?
267
00:35:58.4
MH: Yeah.
268
00:35:59.2
SS: No, that was the main one.
269
00:36:0.2
MH: That was the one.
270
00:36:1.0
SS: Even though we knew there was something, some other ones.  What was the other ones?  You know their names?
271
00:36:7.6
MH: Well, there are a lot of them.
272
00:36:9.2
SS: Yeah.  Well, the ones right where we were, like Ohrdruf, near there, anyway.  But it was horrible to see.  Oh!
273
00:36:18.9
MH: Did you ever have nightmares about it?
274
00:36:21.7
SS: What?
275
00:36:22.6
MH: Did you ever have nightmares about it?
276
00:36:24.2
SS: Well, sort of.  Not real bad, butyou know, when youre a young kid, its terrible.  You have no idea.
277
00:36:37.5
MH: When you came home, did you try and explain it to your family?
278
00:36:44.0
SS: Did I what?
279
00:36:45.7
MH: When you came home, did you try and tell your family about it?
280
00:36:49.4
SS: Oh, not really.  At that time, you didnt even want to talk about it, really.  You know?  Until later on, when people start asking you this; then you had to tell them.
281
00:37:4.6
MH: So, did you describe what you saw to people?
282
00:37:9.5
SS: Did I describe that to them?
283
00:37:12.2
MH: Yeah.
284
00:37:13.0
SS: Oh, yeah.
285
00:37:13.7
MH: How did they
286
00:37:15.3
SS: They wouldnt believe it.  (laughs)
287
00:37:16.2
MH: Thats my question.  How did they react to it?
288
00:37:18.8
SS: Yeah, thats what Im saying.  They said, Oh, it cant be, it cant be.  But it was.  It was bad, Im telling you.  Now that its all over with, and at my age now, I start thinking.  How could that be?  What kind of a world is that?  How could you treat a human being like that?  Oh, those poor people.  It was horrible.  You know what?  I dont know at the time, but first I thought it was all Jewish prisoners.  But it was not, it was a lot of different: Czechoslovakian, what other
289
00:38:2.7
MH: Polish?
290
00:38:3.4
SS: Polish, a lot of Polish.  I should have mentioned that first, because there wasI mean, maybe just as many Polish as there was Jewish.  The majority of them were the Jewish prisoners.  Oh, its unbelievable.  What else, Mike?  I wish you were here.
291
00:38:26.7
MH: I think that about does ityou didnt have any pictures of the camp, did you?
292
00:38:30.6
SS: I gotits a funny thing.  I have some, something.  Could youyou got time, Mike?
293
00:38:40.4
MH: Sure.  Yeah, go ahead.
294
00:38:41.0
SS: I got a thing about the Battle of the Bulge, or the Battle of Bastogne.  You heard of that?
295
00:38:48.8
MH: Of course.
296
00:38:49.4
SS: Huh?
297
00:38:50.0
MH: Yes.
298
00:38:50.6
SS: Bastogne, we went from Bastogne to C-h-a-m-p-s, Champs, with the 101st Airborne.  They, I think, got encircled over there, and we freed them.  They landed there, and thats a big story.  Jesus, I got a lot of articles here.  Jeez, I could send you em.
299
00:39:18.8
MH: Dont send me articles.  What Im looking for, though, is if you have any pictures.
300
00:39:22.5
SS: Well, like I told you, I have to look for the pictures of the camp.
301
00:39:26.8
MH: Okay.
302
00:39:27.3
SS: You would love to see that, describing the death of people.  All right?
303
00:39:34.6
MH: Okay.  Are these pictures that you took or that somebody else took?
304
00:39:37.8
SS: Oh, no.  Somebody took them, and I wound up with them somehow.  I dont know how.
305
00:39:45.1
MH: Okay.  All right.  Well, I will send you an envelope.
306
00:39:48.4
SS: What else?
307
00:39:50.1
MH: Thats about it.  I cant think of anything else.
308
00:39:55.1
SS: Well, if I see anything thats interesting, Ill send it.
309
00:39:58.0
MH: Okay.
310
00:39:58.7
SS: Besides that.  All right?
311
00:39:59.7
MH: Thank you very much.
312
00:40:0.4
SS: Thank you, Mike.
313
00:40:1.4
MH: Okay.  Bye-bye.
314
00:40:2.3
SS: Take care.


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Salvio, Sal,
1919-
245
Sal Salvio oral history interview
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interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
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Tampa, Fla. :
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2008.
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Concentration camp liberators oral history project
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This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsh (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
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The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, 2010 Michael Hirsh.
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Transcripts, excerpts, or any component of this interview may be used without the author's express written permission only for educational or research purposes. No portion of the interview audio or text may be broadcast, cablecast, webcast, or distributed without the author's express written permission.
520
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.
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Concentration camp liberators oral history project.
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PAGE 1

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