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Bernard Schutz oral history interview


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Bernard Schutz oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (36 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Schutz, Bernard, 1917-
Hirsh, Michael, 1943-
University of South Florida Libraries -- Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center
University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
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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 -- Music and the war   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Atrocities   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Veterans -- United States   ( lcsh )
Jewish veterans -- Interviews -- United States   ( lcsh )
Veterans -- Interviews -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genocide   ( lcsh )
Crimes against humanity   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Bernard Schutz. Schutz, a musician and comedian, was a member of the 20th Special Service Unit, which was attached to the 5th Army, accompanying them across North Africa and Europe. In France, he met a family of Jewish refugees that had been in hiding and were now trying to get to another town to stay with relatives; he and his party escorted them there, and the father gave him a photograph in thanks. His next encounter with the Holocaust came in April 1945 when Landsberg was liberated. Schutz heard about it and went to see the camp. He was not allowed past the gate, due to concerns about disease, but saw the prisoners inside. Schutz is married to a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands and is active with several Jewish and Holocaust remembrance groups, including the Illinois Holocaust Museum.
Interview conducted August 9, 2008.
Preferred Citation:
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, ©2010 Michael Hirsh.
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).

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 024896995
oclc - 656423031
usfldc doi - C65-00123
usfldc handle - c65.123
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Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.4 text Michael Hirsh: Why dont we start? Give me your full name and spell it, please. 1 00:00:3.6 Bernard Schutz: Okay. My name is Bernard Schutz, B-e-r-n-a-r-d S-c-h-u-t-z. 2 00:00:13.5 MH: And the address is? 3 00:00:14.7 BS: 4 00:00:16.0 MH: And your phone number? 5 00:00:16.7 BS: 6 00:00:17.6 MH: And your birth date? 7 00:00:18.4 BS: 5-16-17 [May 16, 1917]. 8 00:00:21.7 MH: Which makes you? 9 00:00:22.6 BS: Ninety-one. 10 00:00:23.5 MH: Okay. Where were you before the Army? 11 00:00:27.4 BS: Living on the West Side of Chicago. 12 00:00:32.1 MH: Doing what? 13 00:00:33.7 BS: Doing work in music. I was a violinist and did professional playing then with the WPA Orchestra, the Illinois Symphony under Izler Solomon: that was the height of my career. And I continued with that career in the Army, as well. 14 00:00:54.8 MH: So, howd you end up in the Army? 15 00:00:57.1 BS: I had a choice. I only have one ear; one ear was closed at birth. The doctor advised me that it doesnt portend so well near explosions with that situation. We had a long talk for about an hour, and he looked at me and he saidthis is when I was called up. He said, Well, Bernard, whats it gonna be? I said, Major, weve been talking for an hour about the Jewish question. He says, Youre in the Army, 1-A limited service. I said, What does that mean? and he says, Well, you wont go overseas because of your situation. So, I wound up in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany. Typical Army. 16 00:01:44.3 MH: (laughs) Were you near explosions? 17 00:01:46.5 BS: I got four battle stars and never fired a gun, but we were in it. We were a service company, so we were right there, right off the lines all the time. We were in four situations where the battle was all around us. But 18 00:02:5.0 MH: You go in the Army, and where do they send you initially? 19 00:02:7.7 BS: Well, first they send you to basic training for thirty days, [to] Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, then they ship you out from basic. I was a company clerk. I was the only guy who could type at the time in that group, so I was company clerk and soon moved up, and then I became a sergeant in the Army. And then, after the basic training, we were fooling the enemy, cause we moved all over the country. Why, Ill never know. Typical Army, you know. And finally, we got our orders, and we were shipped overseas to North Africa. 20 00:02:47.0 MH: Were you shipped as a unit or as a replacement? 21 00:02:48.5 BS: As a unit. 22 00:02:49.0 MH: What unit were you in? 23 00:02:50.0 BS: 20th Special Service Unit. 24 00:02:52.1 MH: Attached to a division? 25 00:02:54.5 BS: Attached to the 5th Army. There was a unit of 109 men and five officers, and what we did is broke up into service groups. We were infantry-trained, in case there was a breakthrough. We were part of that unit. We carried our rifles, and we carried our fiddles. And it was great, a great experience. 26 00:03:22.8 MH: So, you were fiddling across North Africa? 27 00:03:25.5 BS: All the way. All the way. 28 00:03:27.9 MH: What was the band? 29 00:03:29.5 BS: At one time, we even had Tony Bennett as a singer. We had a band, and we had a nucleus, and we would travel around. We would work with a local unit that day and pick up whatever talent was available there, combine it with our nucleus, and that night was a show. 30 00:03:50.9 MH: I cant remember the guys first name right now, but hes in New York and his last name is Sunshine. 31 00:03:55.3 BS: Oh. 32 00:03:56.5 MH: Do you know him? 33 00:03:57.2 BS: No. 34 00:03:57.7 MH: I think it might be Morris Sunshine. But he was in a band, too, and Tony Bennett was their vocalist. Morris Sunshine was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00134. 35 00:04:1.8 BS: Yeah. Well, he was with us for maybe a month or two and got moved up prettyhe knew the right peoplein a hurry. But the point is, we had some very talented people, and theres a whole raft of people who are unknowns who are marvelous talents. They never made it to the top, for whatever reason, and those are the people. We had a lot of talented people, and some hillbillies along with it. You know, typical Army. 36 00:04:34.5 MH: Whatd you play? 37 00:04:35.5 BS: Whatd I play? 38 00:04:36.9 MH: Yeah. What kind of music? 39 00:04:38.8 BS: What I did was unusual. I was the master of ceremonies. I was the joke teller, you know, the Jewish Chicago boy: that was always the designation. And I would stand there with the fiddle and do my intros or the acts. 40 00:04:53.0 MH: This is Jack Benny. 41 00:04:54.0 BS: Right, exactly. 42 00:04:55.3 MH: Ben Kubelsky, a Waukegan Jewish boy. 43 00:04:57.6 BS: Exactly. And I never needed a guy to show. Somebody would always holler, Hey, Sarge, you gonna play that fiddle? Then, at the end of the show, I would pay it off with a straight semi-classical number. It worked like a charm. 44 00:05:12.6 MH: Whats your best joke from back then? 45 00:05:14.2 BS: Well, one of the quickies is that this sailor was on leave in Hawaii, and hes walking with a beautiful Hawaiian young lady, and she turns to him and she says, Soldier, how would you like a lei? He says, Well, dear, I was gonna lead up to it more subtly, but okay. Well, she runs off into the forest, and a few minutes later comes back with a beautiful garland of flowers. She places it around his neck, and she gives him a peck on the cheek. He says, What is this?  She says, This is a Hawaiian lei. And he says to her, Honey, if this is a Hawaiian lay, God bless America. (laughs) That was one of the openers. 46 00:06:0.9 MH: Okay. You got one more? 47 00:06:2.8 BS: Not offhand. 48 00:06:4.3 MH: Okay. If you think of one 49 00:06:5.3 BS: They got a lot rougher. 50 00:06:6.6 MH: Okay. If you think of one while were talking, tell it. 51 00:06:9.2 BS: Okay. 52 00:06:9.9 MH: So, how do youwhen were you in combat? 53 00:06:15.2 BS: Well, we were in combat zones. Like I say, if there was a breakthrough, we became part of that unit. And when we traveled onwe started in North Africa, then we were shipped to Italy. We kept following the combat troops, thirty days later all the time. And then from Italy, we were shipped to France, and then from France to Germany. And in Germany is where I had my experience with the Holocaust. 54 00:06:48.6 MH: What did you know about the Holocaust before that point? 55 00:06:52.2 BS: Good question. Very damn little. We knew that things were bad. The only hint that I had was a real clue. In France, I was in charge of a transport deal from one town to another, and on the road was a young, handsome couple with a small child. They looked familiar, like landsmen, and they signaled us, so I ordered [us to] stop. I found out they were in hiding and they just came out of hiding. Their name was Ripstein. That was it. Well, we gave them whatever food and things we had with us, and he gave me a photo of their family, which I have, in Yiddish, thanking me, you know. We took them to the next town that they were headed to for relatives. And that began totalking with them, [I] began to understand why they were in hiding for a couple of years. 56 00:07:58.1 MH: What year was this? 57 00:07:59.4 BS: This was 1941, I guess. 58 00:08:6.1 MH: Forty-one [1941], that early? 59 00:08:7.7 BS: Yeah, I think so. Forty-one [1941] or forty-two [1942], Im not sure. 60 00:08:11.1 MH: When did you go in the Army? 61 00:08:12.3 BS: Forty-two [1942]. 62 00:08:15.0 MH: Forty-two [1942]. 63 00:08:15.9 BS: Oh, yeah, youre right. Im wrong on the date. It was forty-one [1941], I was in the Army in forty-two [1942], so it was probably around forty-three [1943], beginning of forty-four [1944]. Thats a big timeframe, right. And that was my first exposure. 64 00:08:31.4 MH: Tell me what they told you. 65 00:08:32.7 BS: They said that they knew their family and friends were picked up and never seen again. The word got out that they were not going to labor camps; they were going to death camps. So, if they couldwhoever could, hid, you know? And evidently, they were in pretty good shape, and they made it successfully underground. 66 00:08:57.9 MH: How old was the child? 67 00:08:59.7 BS: I would say the child at that time was about nine, ten years old. 68 00:09:6.3 MH: A boy or a girl? 69 00:09:7.4 BS: A girl. 70 00:09:8.1 MH: A girl. Yeah. 71 00:09:9.3 BS: It was a fleeting experience for about a half-hour. We took them to their destination, they thanked us, and then I began to say, Things are not quite as easy. Everything was very camouflaged. You didnt see much, you didnt hear much, and youre busy in the Army. There was no choice. 72 00:09:31.0 MH: Did you know about it when you were still in Chicago? I mean, Kristallnacht? 73 00:09:36.2 BS: We didnt know about the death camps. We knew there was problems; we knew there was anti-Semitism. There were incidents, but we never knew the full story at all. And in Germany, the Landsberg camp was not far from where we were situated, and the word got out underI dont know who brought the messagethat there was a liberation of a camp called Landsberg. 74 00:10:5.5 MH: This is nowthis is forty-five [1945]. 75 00:10:8.0 BS: Right. 76 00:10:9.2 MH: Between meeting that family and getting to Landsberg, anything else? 77 00:10:12.6 BS: No. No, we were very busy, very busy, doing our work and all. And we lived on trucks. We were American gypsies, you know, so we were constantly on the move. There was no place to really get the roots of any situation. 78 00:10:32.2 But when we heard about the camp being liberated, I hadI was lucky. I got a Jeep and a couple guys, and we went to the camp. At the camp was the whole picture. There they were. Those who were ablethey were all human skeletons. They all had those striped pajama things on. The medics were there, and we were not allowed past the gate, because there were a lot of cautions about diseases and things. 79 00:11:5.7 MH: Typhus. 80 00:11:6.5 BS: Also not to feed them, because that would beinstead of a help, that could be 81 00:11:12.9 MH: It was killing people. 82 00:11:14.1 BS: Right. So, what we did see, we were right at the gate. There was a large opening in the ground for a couple of hundred bodies, men and boys, all lying there dead, with an earth machine there, ready, and the Germans didnt have time. So, there we saw this scene ourselves, and of course, that scene changed my life. Then I realized what was happening. Men and boys, hundreds of them, all lying there dead, and the others walking around in a daze. Most of them really didnt know yet, comprehend what was happening. It was a horrible, horrible day and scene. 83 00:12:0.8 MH: What was the weather like? What was the day like? 84 00:12:4.6 BS: The weather? I dont remember it being severe. There was no snow or terribly cold. You know, at this point in time, its almost like a bad dream. Its almost likewhat is the word in art? Surreal. Then it sunk in, and I realizedand I talked with some of the officers in chargethat this was one of the death camps, too. And Landsberg was not the big camp, but it was just as bad. 85 00:12:42.0 MH: Did you talk to any of the inmates? 86 00:12:44.4 BS: We just said, Hello, hi, and I tried in my Yiddish to say a few things, but they were not ready to communicate. They were in an absolute daze, you know? And they were emaciated, just nothing. I had one incident where that night, I happened to be on guard duty. In the early morning, there was a cry in German, Helfen mir, helfen mir. A bunch of the inmates in the striped pajama thing had caught one of the guards, and they were trying to kill him. And I just held my gun up, and the captain came out and heard the commotion. He said, Whats going on here? and I told him, and he says, They know what theyre doing. Leave them alone. They strung the guy up on a tree and killed him. They were wild. 87 00:13:46.7 MH: This is at night or daylight? 88 00:13:48.5 BS: This is early morning. 89 00:13:49.6 MH: So its daylight. 90 00:13:50.4 BS: Right. Daylight. 91 00:13:51.8 MH: What do you mean, They were wild? 92 00:13:52.9 BS: They were wild. They were justthey had caught somebody that they recognized. He still had the corduroy-type boots on, whatever you call them, and they wereit was revenge, you know. It was revenge time. Like I say, they strung him up on a tree and that was the end of it. The captain said, Leave them alone. They know very well what theyre doing. 93 00:14:16.9 MH: How did these emaciated people manage that? 94 00:14:19.2 BS: Dozens of them, thats how. Just by number, just by number. I said the same thing, Whered they get this? I guess you get a certain strength when you emotionally go beyond your capacity, you know. That changed my life forever, because then I realized what was really happening, and then multiply that by all the other stories. And then, coincidentally, when I came back to the States, I and two other bachelors went to Temple Sholom in Chicago, and Betty was the first Jewish Dutch girl survivor. Like I say, either she went back to Holland or, if I married her, as a GI, she could stay legally. And thats what happened. 95 00:15:15.4 MH: Were you still a GI? 96 00:15:16.4 BS: No. 97 00:15:17.8 MH: No? Let me go back to Europe. 98 00:15:20.2 BS: All right. 99 00:15:21.0 MH: Can you describe that family, the three people? What did they look like? What were they wearing? 100 00:15:25.9 BS: Oh, yeah, sure. They were a handsome family. He was, I would say, around thirtyish. She was kind of a blondish, good-looking lady, and a very, very handsome little girl. 101 00:15:40.3 MH: How were they dressed? 102 00:15:41.7 BS: They were dressed fairly well that I can remember, nothing sensational either way. They were not in rags, not in tattered clothes, and they were not in evening gowns. They were just normal, very normal. 103 00:15:56.3 MH: Walking down the road. 104 00:15:57.4 BS: Right. And looking for a lift, you know. 105 00:16:0.2 MH: Did they appear desperate? 106 00:16:1.9 BS: No, they were very calm. They explained to me in Yiddish that they were underground and they were saved that way, and they want to get to the next town to make contact with somebody they know there. 107 00:16:22.0 MH: Were they carrying a suitcase? 108 00:16:23.1 BS: Yeah, he was carrying a little case of some kind. The rest is just kind of a hazy memory. But I know it happened, because then he gave me the photo, and on the back he wrote in Yiddish, Thank you for helping us. 109 00:16:43.8 MH: And you still have the photo. 110 00:16:45.0 BS: Yes. Yes. 111 00:16:46.7 MH: This is now sixty-three, almost sixty-four years later. Youre seeing all this stuff like its a movie playing in your head. 112 00:16:57.8 BS: Right. 113 00:16:58.6 MH: It never goes away. 114 00:17:0.1 BS: Never goes away. Oh, no, oh, no. One nice thing issometimes you question yourself, because of the time distance. Id mentioned this at the Holocaust Foundation when we were talking to a group there, and a guy jumps up and says, Thats exactly the way it was. I was there, too. And I felt so good, because it substantiated. Sometimes, you begin to question yourself because of the timeframe. Did it really happen that way? You know. And he jumped up and says, Thats right, thats exactly the way it happened, when I explained all the men and boys dead, lying in an open pit. And it did happen, no question about it. And, as I say, after that, everything just changed. You realize that its the real thing. 115 00:17:54.9 MH: How does an experience like that change your life? 116 00:17:57.6 BS: Well, from a happy-go-lucky guy who was a bachelor without very many commitments, to suddenly realizing that your people from all the ages that you knew had persecution, and this was the worst of all. This was. When we heard multiple stories afterwards, when we heard millions, you can do nothing else but think about it and change your whole attitude on being happy-go-lucky, free, you know, to a lot of responsibility. As a result of that, I got busy with the Jewish War Veterans. I got busy with Magen David Adom. My sister-in-law in Holland is very active; shes one of the big machers in Europe in the David Adom. And my wife, of course, has been very, very much into Judaism. Unfortunately, it [the Holocaust] left a scar on her. Shes nervous now. She had nightmares all the time about 117 00:19:15.3 MH: Where was she during the war? 118 00:19:16.6 BS: She had a wonderful, lucky experience, but it traumatized her forever. She was in the ghetto in Amsterdam. Luckily, her father was a fisherman and had gentile friends, and one of them came over there and said to her at the camp, Were gonna get you out of here. She said, Well, how? He says, Take off the star. 119 00:19:42.2 MH: She was already in the ghetto? 120 00:19:44.9 BS: Yeah, in the ghetto, right. She was in the ghetto. He said, Were gonna take off the star. Youre light, fair, blonde. Dont look at anything. Just walk with me, and well walk out of here. He had a truck near the entrance. They walked out, believe it or not. She got into the truck. In the meantime, the church was the underground, and they arranged for her for a false passport with a false name with a corresponding age. And they took her, andthe man had volunteered to take a little girl. He was quite surprised when Betty walked in as an eighteen year old adult. And Betty took over the house. The woman was a very, very sick, mentally unstable lady. The man was a gem, never took a dime. You know, most of them, for whatever reason, took whatever they could. This man never took a dime. And we became very, very close. She used to call him Pa. 121 00:20:50.0 MH: Had she left her parents? 122 00:20:53.2 BS: This is interesting. Her parents, her mother and father, survived in a closet for two years, in an actual clothes closet. 123 00:21:3.8 MH: In Amsterdam. 124 00:21:4.5 BS: In Amsterdam. One brother survived in a false attic in a building with no heat during the winter, and the older brother was volunteered. The Germans came in and said, We want young men of this age to do labor work, and he said, Well, Im not worried about work. Theyre gonna pay us. I can use the money, and they never saw him again. And they found out laterI think he was killed at Sobibor. 125 00:21:33.3 MH: Your wifes name back then was? 126 00:21:36.3 BS: Elisabeth. 127 00:21:36.9 MH: Elisabeth what? 128 00:21:37.7 BS: Elisabeth Knoop, K-n-double o-p, real Dutch.        129 00:21:42.3 MH: With the umlauts? 130 00:21:44.0 BS: No. 131 00:21:44.5 MH: No umlauts. 132 00:21:45.1 BS: Thats German. 133 00:21:45.7 MH: Thats German, okay. K-n-o-o-p. 134 00:21:47.7 BS: Right. Her father was a tough, tough guy, raised on the streets, no schooling, brilliant: a brilliant businessman. Hes the one who realized this couldve been a business, when he saw things happening with dealers who came from the States to buy in Holland. Suddenly, those dealers around the New York-Boston area, who came once a year, are coming about once a month and buying containers of art. He said to me, Somethings happening there. I want you to look into it. And I, of course, objected. I said, You cant do business with artists. It cant be a legitimate business. Youre dealing with a lot of temperamental guys. He says, Its a business. And the next thing we knew, a container pulled up to our apartment in Budlong Woods, and we were in business. Thats the kind of guy he was. 135 00:22:49.3 MH: And you live in a place thats surrounded with art, filled with art. 136 00:22:52.9 BS: Always, always. Weve never had a freestanding home, and weve always lived with our business. Betty was a tremendous asset. She had this wonderful Dutch-American accent, and was a charmer. Between the two of us, I did pretty well as a salesman. 137 00:23:12.2 MH: You have children? 138 00:23:13.6 BS: Huh? 139 00:23:14.6 MH: Children? 140 00:23:15.2 BS: We have two: we have a boy and a girl. But were having a very, very tough time now with Betty, physically and emotionally, and we got some help with us now, coming over part-time; she just called. And theres a lady whos the head of a clinic of, uhacupuncture, thats the word Im looking for. Shes coming to examine Betty and see if she can help her with that, and thats where we are now. 141 00:23:49.0 MH: Were you a religious person before you went in the service? 142 00:23:51.1 BS: Very Jewish, but not practicing religion. Im not a great fan of rituals. I still think thats all manmade. 143 00:24:1.5 MH: Do you believe in God? 144 00:24:2.4 BS: I have a big question, after the camp. 145 00:24:6.3 MH: Thats my question. Did you believe in God before the camp? 146 00:24:9.5 BS: Yes. Yes, and would always refer to God help me, you know. I still have a feeling that there is something, but I have no knowledge of what it is. And after what I saw 147 00:24:23.1 (phone rings) Excuse me. 148 00:24:26.3 BS: My number-one daughter, who watches out for us. She cooks for us, she shops. Very lucky: weve got two great kids. 149 00:24:34.3 MH: So, to go back: before the camp, you did believe in God. 150 00:24:39.3 BS: Yes. 151 00:24:40.1 MH: Were you ever in a combat situation? I mean 152 00:24:43.0 BS: Actual fighting? 153 00:24:43.9 MH: Yeah. 154 00:24:44.5 BS: No. 155 00:24:45.1 MH: No artillery coming in on you, that sort of thing? 156 00:24:47.2 BS: Yes, there was. Oh, yeah, we had artillery coming. Matter of fact, I was in a local hospital, and they hit it with artillery when oneit was in a U-shaped hospital, and one wing was bombed. 157 00:24:58.8 MH: Did you pray then? 158 00:25:0.1 BS: I was knocked out of bed. Oh, yeah, of course. 159 00:25:2.3 MH: You were in the hospital? 160 00:25:3.8 BS: Yeah. 161 00:25:4.1 MH: Why? 162 00:25:4.8 BS: I had stomach problems. I was really run down. 163 00:25:8.0 MH: Oh, okay. So, do you pray then? 164 00:25:10.0 BS: Oh, yeah. Oh, definitely. I still have the feeling, but because of what happenedin a discussion, for example, with a very Orthodox man, I said, How could this be? and he said, No, I have faith, and all that. I said, Well, how could it be? He said, One of the reasons is that we didnt follow all the laws of the Book. I said, What about a million and a half children? How can you reconcile children? Cant be more innocent than that. And theres no answer. Theres no answer. He knows best. 165 00:25:52.9 You know, I envy people who have blind faith. I think thats wonderful. No matter what you say or what happens, they believe. I question. I want to believe, but its very difficult. Its very difficult. I was dead once for a short time. I have a heart problem. Nothing happened. And I lead a very honorable, good life. Never cheated, never went the wrong route, and nothing happened. 166 00:26:33.8 MH: Have you run into people personally who say the Holocaust didnt happen? 167 00:26:37.9 BS: Well, the one who wrote the book in Northwestern University. 168 00:26:44.9 MH: [Arthur R.] Butz? 169 00:26:46.2 BS: Yeah. I fought with the university personally to try to get him fired, and of course, they said, He has tenure. And I said to them, the president or whoever I talked to at the timeI really went after it very hard. I guess a lot of people did. And I said, You mean to tell me if Adolf Hitler was here, if he had tenure, you wouldnt do anything? No answer. But oh, yeah, I campaigned very hard to try to get him fired, and I couldnt. I think hes still there. Mr. Butts, we called him. (laughs) 170 00:27:28.0 MH: Yes. Youre very unusual in that, because of who you married, you live with the Holocaust for sixtyits your sixty-second anniversary? 171 00:27:40.7 BS: Thats right. 172 00:27:41.4 MH: Sixty-two years. 173 00:27:42.6 BS: Thats right. 174 00:27:43.4 MH: I cant imagine having to cope with somebody who says, That didnt happen. 175 00:27:48.8 BS: Well, I realize that theres such a thing as bitter anti-Semitism, for whatever reasons, you know. Who knows? Thats a psychiatrist problem. But for whatever reason, there are and always will be anti-Semitism to such a point where they feel they have the advantage of time. Were dying off, and they can perpetuate the lie that it never really happened. All we want is money from it, and that was it. And, incidentally, getting money from that is not easy. Now, after sixty-some years, we may get a pittance from the German government, you know. 176 00:28:35.1 MH: Reparations. 177 00:28:36.6 BS: Reparations, right. Were involved in that now, but so far, not a dime. They want to take a lot of time. I wrote them a letter and askedwe got a letter of approval. Nothing happened for months, so I wrote them a letter. I never got a response. 178 00:28:53.2 Anti-Semitism is understood, and we fight it wherever we can. We belong to a lot of organizations who are in the fight, you know, including at one time that of Rabbi Marvin Hier in California, and people here. And were as active as we can. Now, physically, she cant do anything. And Im on the board of the Holocaust Foundation here in Skokie; were just about building it. Well be ready this spring, I hope. Theyve already accomplished over $30-some million, and Mr. [J.B.] Pritzker is our chairman, so everybody feels, well, hell pick up the slack. 179 00:29:49.8 MH: Out of his pocket change. 180 00:29:53.0 BS: Exactly, and petty cash. So, thats where we are. What are you doing? What do you do? 181 00:30:1.3 MH: I write books. Thisll be my sixth book. 182 00:30:5.6 BS: Oh, how nice. 183 00:30:7.0 MH: Im a Vietnam vet. I was an army combat correspondent in Vietnam. 184 00:30:14.0 BS: Oh, good for you. 185 00:30:15.0 MH: I was in television most of my life, and finally started writing my way out. I was embedded with Air Force pararescue guys in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 186 00:30:24.7 BS: Oh, boy. 187 00:30:26.0 MH: I said to my kids, Dont worry, Im not going to do anything stupid, and my son said, Youre Jewish. Youre going to Pakistan. Does the name Daniel Pearl ring a bell? 188 00:30:34.3 BS: (laughs) 189 00:30:35.4 MH: So, yeah, I went there and wrote a book called None Braver. I wroteyou know the Terri Schiavo case that was in the news? 190 00:30:42.9 BS: Oh, sure. 191 00:30:43.7 MH: I wrote Michael Schiavos book; that was a New York Times bestseller. 192 00:30:46.9 BS: Oh, really? Terrific. 193 00:30:48.1 MH: And now Im writing a book about The Last Liberators: Americas Final Witnesses to the Holocaust. So, Ive been interviewing guys like you. 194 00:30:55.3 BS: Right. 195 00:30:56.1 MH: You remember one more joke? 196 00:30:57.7 BS: Uh, yes. A fellow was living in a semi-rural district and was talking to a neighbor one day, and he [the neighbor] says, Hows things going? He says, I cant believe it. Here we live in a dairy country, and dairy products are so high priced. I never saw such prices. He [the neighbor] says, Well, why dont you do what I do? He said, What is that? [The neighbor] said Buy a cow, and Ill teach you how to function with a cow. 197 00:31:27.6 So, he buys a cow, and things are working out fine. Sometime later, they meet again, and he [the neighbor] says, How you doing? He says, Oh, Im doing fine. He [the neighbor] says, Would you like to even do better? He says, Sure, what? He [the neighbor] says, You buy a bull, and youll be in the business. Youll be able to have calves and even make some money with it and have a nice existence with it. So, he buys a pedigree bull for a lot of money. He puts the bull out to pasture, and nothing happens. Every time the bull approaches the cow, the cow waltzes away. 198 00:32:2.3 So, he goes to the vet and he says, Listen, Ive got a problem here. Ive got a lot of money invested in a bull, and were hoping they mate and get calves. But every time the bull approaches the cow, the cow walks away. So, the veterinarian looks in his book and thinks a while and says, Wait a minute. Was that cow bought in Wisconsin? He says, Well, how in the heck would you know that? He [the vet] says, Because my wife is from Wisconsin. 199 00:32:34.1 (both laugh) 200 00:32:40.3 MH: Oh, God! 201 00:32:42.4 BS: (laughs) We got a million of em! 202 00:32:43.6 MH: I see. Okay. 203 00:32:45.1 BS: I used to even tell a few Yiddish jokes. 204 00:32:49.4 MH: Yeah? In Yiddish? 205 00:32:51.0 BS: In Yiddish, broken Chicago Yiddish. 206 00:32:54.4 MH: Tell one. Ill see if I can understand it, or my mother will explain it to me. 207 00:33:1.9 BS: The lakhedike khaye, the laughing hyena. Okay? Have you heard this story? 208 00:33:7.8 MH: I dont think so. 209 00:33:8.6 BS: This is a classic story. Lets see. Yeah, Grandpa says to grandchild, (Yiddish) to the zoo. (Yiddish) to the zoo. So they walk into the zoo, and theres a guy standing there with a bullhorn, and he says, Ladies and gentlemen, in a few minutes, therell be a very interesting talk on the strange animal, the laughing hyena. The old man dont hear too well, like me, and he says, (Yiddish). So, they stand there. Sure enough, they bring out a cage and they take off the cover, and this animal got this silly grin all the time. 210 00:33:56.9 He says, Ladies and gentlemen, there are three very interesting things about this strange-looking animal, always looking like hes laughing. The first thing is, he eats but once a month. The old man says, (Yiddish). He [the zookeeper] says, The second interesting thing about it, it excretes once a year. He [the grandfather] says, (Yiddish), you know. Then he [the zookeeper] says, The third and the most interesting thing about this animal is that it has intercourse but once a year. He [the grandfather] says, (Yiddish). 211 00:34:54.6 So, the old man starts to daven. He says, (Yiddish). (both laugh) Thats a Jewish classic. The joke is about a child who takes a Jewish grandparent to the zoo, where they listen to a lecture about the laughing hyena. The grandparent does not understand much English, so the child repeats everything in Yiddish. The grandparent approves of the fact that the hyena seldom eats or excretes, but when told that it only mates once a year, asks, What is there to laugh about? 212 00:35:13.2 MH: Say goodnight, Gracie.

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Schutz, Bernard,
Bernard Schutz oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (36 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (20 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 August 9, 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 Bernard Schutz. Schutz, a musician and comedian, was a member of the 20th Special Service Unit, which was attached to the 5th Army, accompanying them across North Africa and Europe. In France, he met a family of Jewish refugees that had been in hiding and were now trying to get to another town to stay with relatives; he and his party escorted them there, and the father gave him a photograph in thanks. His next encounter with the Holocaust came in April 1945 when Landsberg was liberated. Schutz heard about it and went to see the camp. He was not allowed past the gate, due to concerns about disease, but saw the prisoners inside. Schutz is married to a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands and is active with several Jewish and Holocaust remembrance groups, including the Illinois Holocaust Museum.
Schutz, Bernard,
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Army, 5th
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Landsberg (Concentration camp)
Concentration camps
z Germany
x History.
World War, 1939-1945
Concentration camps
World War, 1939-1945
Concentration camps
World War, 1939-1945
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World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945
United States.
Jewish veterans
United States
United States
Crimes against humanity.
7 655
Oral history.
Online audio.
Hirsh, Michael,
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.
4 856


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