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George Sherman oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
George Sherman oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (44 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Sherman, George, 1926-
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 -- Austria   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Austria   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- Liberation   ( 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 )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator George Sherman. Sherman was a tank gunner in the 11th Armored Division, which liberated Mauthausen on May 6, 1945. They discovered the camp while looking for the Russian soldiers they were supposed to meet. They could smell the camp long before they arrived at the gates and could hear people yelling. His unit drove into the camp and stopped, seeing the barracks, the dead bodies, and the surviving prisoners; they radioed back to headquarters, and their officers joined them shortly afterward. Sherman was in the camp for about two hours before being sent to continue his mission. The first time he spoke publically about Mauthausen was at an event sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; he was later interviewed by a reporter from his local newspaper.
Venue:
Interview conducted September 5, 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.
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 - 024901497
oclc - 656530273
usfldc doi - C65-00126
usfldc handle - c65.126
System ID:
SFS0022173:00001


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This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator George Sherman. Sherman was a tank gunner in the 11th Armored Division, which liberated Mauthausen on May 6, 1945. They discovered the camp while looking for the Russian soldiers they were supposed to meet. They could smell the camp long before they arrived at the gates and could hear people yelling. His unit drove into the camp and stopped, seeing the barracks, the dead bodies, and the surviving prisoners; they radioed back to headquarters, and their officers joined them shortly afterward. Sherman was in the camp for about two hours before being sent to continue his mission. The first time he spoke publically about Mauthausen was at an event sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; he was later interviewed by a reporter from his local newspaper.
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xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.0 text Michael Hirsh: Okay, all set? 1 00:00:1.9 George Sherman: Yeah. 2 00:00:3.1 MH: Why dont you give me your full name and spell it for me, please? 3 00:00:5.5 GS: Its George Sherman, like the general.  S-h-e-r-m-a-n. 4 00:00:9.8 MH: And your date of birth. 5 00:00:10.7 GS: January 22, 1926. 6 00:00:15.4 MH: January 22, 1926.  And the unit you were in in Europe was 7 00:00:21.7 GS: The 41st Calvary Squadron of the 11th Armored Division.   8 00:00:26.0 MH: Did you get to more than one camp? 9 00:00:32.8 GS: No, just Mauthausen. 10 00:00:35.1 MH: Just Mauthausen.  Can you just begin by telling me where were you before you went in the Army and what were you doing? 11 00:00:41.8 GS: Before then, I lived in Brooklyn and I was going to high school.  In my senior year, a month or two before graduation, I enlisted in the Army, thinkingthe Army Air Corps.  But I turned out to be colorblind, and I ended up in the Armored Corps, not to my choosing.  Stationed and took my basic training at Fort Knox. 12 00:01:16.6 MH: So did I. 13 00:01:18.2 GS: Oh.  And my MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] was actually a tank gunner on the Sherman tank; it was named after me, of course. 14 00:01:26.5 MH: Absolutely.  And Im sure the drill sergeants told you that. 15 00:01:30.6 GS: Well, I told everybody, and half the guys believed me.  After that, you know, wed leavewe went to Camp Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and did nothing for about a month or so.  And then 16 00:01:49.1 MH: What month and year is this? 17 00:01:51.0 GS: This would be in 1944, and then in Decemberwait, let me get it straight here.  Yeah, shipped over in 1944and then anyway, through Camp Chaffee we went to an embarkation in New York and sailed in December for Europe.   18 00:02:30.0 MH: Were you onyou werent on the Queen Mary or any of the 19 00:02:35.4 GS: No, no, it was a Liberty ship that was turned into a 20 00:02:45.0 MH: Troop ship. 21 00:02:46.8 GS: Troop ship.   22 00:02:47.6 MH: Were you going over with the division, or 23 00:02:51.7 GS: No, the division was formed in about 1942, and went through maneuvers and this and that in California; it was actually started in Louisiana.  And I think I gave you the wrong year.  I think Im talking forty-five [1945].  The division was in forty-two [1942].  Anyway, the division was sent over to England, and they were in England for about three or four months and was part of the 3rd Army, which was still at that point still in England.  It was just shortly after D-Day, about two months after D-Day, that they were sent over toI dont know where they actually landed, but they were part of the 3rd Army at the time, and was traveling down toward Reims.  Now, this was before I was there.  When the Bulge started, most of the 3rd Army, which was south of Bastognewhich I guess you know from the historywas turned around, and on a forced march they went up toward Bastogne, with a number of other divisions, of course.  It was there, then, in January of forty-five [1945] that Iright outside of Houffalize 24 00:04:49.5 MH: What? 25 00:04:51.1 GS: Houffalize in Belgium, which was very near Bastogne, and which was a key town to try and capturenot capture, but encircle.  The Germans were past that, you know, in Bastogne.  And it was there that the first encounter by the division took place.  And of course there were casualties.  I then became a replacement.  I was a replacement as I was sent over.  And for some reason, I drew the cavalry, which was a mechanized reconnaissance squadron. 26 00:05:32.1 MH: Which means youre riding what vehicle? 27 00:05:33.6 GS: Well, I started in a light tank but ended up in a Jeep, which we in Armored Corps called a Peep.   28 00:05:41.8 MH: A Peep? 29 00:05:41.8 GS: A Peep, but its actually a Jeep. 30 00:05:45.0 MH: I see.  Whyd they call it a Peep? 31 00:05:46.4 GS: Well, you know, General Patton had some strange idea that he originally wanted special uniforms for the Armored divisions, which neverwe wore our overseas caps on the left side instead of the right side, you know.  So anyway, for some reason they called the Jeeps Peeps. 32 00:06:7.1 MH: The light tank is which tank? 33 00:06:9.5 GS: I forgot the designation, but it had a 37mm cannon.  We hadin our platoon, we had two of them and one armored car, and I think it was four of the Peeps.  And I was in the scout Peep, which is the first vehicle in the line of march, by the troop. 34 00:06:39.8 MH: Did this have a regular windshield, or did this have the armored 35 00:06:42.7 GS: It was a folding windshield. 36 00:06:44.7 MH: But glass. 37 00:06:45.8 GS: But glass. 38 00:06:46.9 MH: Because Ive seen a recon Jeep that had a steel windshield with just slits in it. 39 00:06:53.6 GS: Nope. 40 00:06:54.9 MH: Thats not you guys. 41 00:06:56.1 GS: No.  In fact, our windshield was always kept down because we had a .30 caliber machine gun mounted, actually welded to the hood.  And the assistant driver, in the passengers seat he had that .30 caliber machine gun that he was responsible for; and the person in the back seat, which was me, had on a pedestal mount a .50 caliber machine gun. 42 00:07:29.0 MH: Thats a lot of firepower for a Jeep. 43 00:07:30.9 GS: Thats a lot of firepower, and we carriedour person weapons were carbines, .30 caliber carbines. 44 00:07:36.5 Anyway, the reconnaissance squadron, which was made up of five troops, which you know, is the cavalry name for a companyit was the normal infantry set-up where you had a regular reconnaissance troop and you had a tank troop, light tanks, and you had the headquarters troop, et cetera.  And they were usually divided up in the division between the Combat Command A and Combat Command B.  Divisions were always split, almost in half, and they can go in different directions.  It was very seldomI dont even know if I can remember when the division acted in total as a division rather than in the combat command.  You know.   45 00:08:28.0 But anyway, we worked in that Houffalize situation, and it was there that our B troop was designated to go up to a town called Malmdy, in which there was a massacre.  And because we had winches on front of some of the JeepsPeepswe unfortunately had the job of lassoingthey were all frozenthe dead soldiers and pulling them out of the field, taking them up to a road where the big trucks came in, and putting them into body bags, et cetera. 46 00:09:12.7 MH: Thats where the Germans massacred what, some 350 Americans? 47 00:09:17.1 GS: I dont remember the total number.  It was an engineering company that got caught and had to be turned into infantry, but they were overrun by the Germans, and in their haste, they made the big mistake, the Germans.  Instead of treating them as prisoners of war, they just lined em all up in front of a forest line and machine gunned them, shot them.  And the sad part about that was the commanding officer, later after the war, who they knew who it was, and he was convicted in Nuremberg and through political nonsense, believe it or not, after a few years in jail was let out and lived a very, very long life.  I believe he lived in Austria at the time.  Which is one of the sad parts of that tale.   48 00:10:14.1 But anyway, the division then, of course, in late January, they turned around the Bulge and we started offensive.  And the 11th Armored with the 3rd Army, we kind of headed south and we crossed the Rhine.  Anyway, we kept going and we ended up in Linz, Austria, and at that time, which was at the very early part of May, our job was to meet the Russians, and in a number of our reconnaissanceevery morning we went out.  We went out on one day on a particular road and ended up stumbling onto Mauthausen.  We didnt know it at the time, but thats what it was. 49 00:11:2.8 MH: Tell me about that day.  How did the day start? 50 00:11:4.5 GS: The day started as a normal day: each day you get an assignment, and that particular time, the division was looking for the Russians.  We were somewhere on the other side of Austria.  And this was literally, I dont know, maybe a week before the armistice.  And on one particularthere were a number of small roads that led out of Linz, which was heading east, and we went out on that day and I dont know, two or three miles outside of Linzand by the way, when we did those patrols, we traveled very quickly.  At this point we had a heavier light tankIm trying to think, an M24.  I forgot, but it had a 75mm cannon on it, they were much heavier, bigger light tank.  We had a few of those; we did not have any armored cars at the time, which was a bad vehicle anyway: it had an open turret, which was not good.  And we would travel thirty-five, forty miles, and it would just be one or two platoons from the troop.  But anyway, we started smellingthere was an awful odor as you were running down the road. 51 00:12:33.2 MH: What time of day is this? 52 00:12:34.7 GS: This was kind of early in the morning.  And anyway, one of thewe come up to this, looked like a barracks, I guess you would call it.  It was a woodenbig wooden fences and what not.  The odor was terrific. 53 00:12:57.6 MH: The fences are barbed wire, or theyre wood? 54 00:13:1.8 GS: No, big wooden, like an entrancethey built like an entrance to a subdivision here in Florida.  And so, anyway, we saw that and there was yelling going on. 55 00:13:17.3 MH: Whos yelling? 56 00:13:19.8 GS: Well, at the time we didnt know; we assumed it was the prisoners, because they could hear the noise.  And one of the tanks came up, using it as a battering ram just went through those front doors.  And then the whole platoon went in 57 00:13:39.6 MH: Mounted in the vehicles, or you got down? 58 00:13:43.4 GS: Oh, no, mounted; we drove right in.  And then stopped once you were in there, because right there, we were greeted with the sights, the piles of bodies, these people walking around like God knowsskeletons and whatnot.  And we dismounted, and the scout sergeant, of course, radioed back to the squadron headquarters.  He couldnt explain what the heck it was.  And about a half an hour or forty-five minutes later, a full tank battalion came up from our division, the 41st Tank Battalion, rumbling down with about twenty -odd big Sherman tanks.  But anyway, the officers came. 59 00:14:33.9 MH: Did those tanks come inside, or did they stay on the road? 60 00:14:36.7 GS: No, they stayed outside.  But all the men came in, and as you walk inits an immense place, and you came walking in and you see the barracks and people inside the barracks, and theres people walking and bodies all over the joint. 61 00:14:53.0 MH: What are you thinking? 62 00:14:53.9 GS: Well, we didnt know what the hell to think.  It was like wewe had heard, by the way, through Stars and Stripes, we knew about a couple of the other camps that were early on, the main one [Auschwitz] being found by the Russians.  So, we surmised what it was, because it was still kind of unbelievable.  So, the moment the officers came, and a lot of the other parts of our squadron, the troops, it started getting crowded.  We were told to get the heck out of there and continue on our mission, so I was only there no more than two hours. 63 00:15:41.6 MH:  What are the prisoners doing when you come in? 64 00:15:45.9 GS: Oh, those that were ambulatory, they were mingling and hugging and asking for food and water.  Some of them were pulling on, we had a few after the tank battalion came up with otherswe had some medics thereand of course, whatever we had, we were giving, you know, our C rations and our D rations to them, which was really a mistake, but we didnt know it. 65 00:16:14.6 MH: What are D rations? 66 00:16:15.5 GS:  They were fortified candy bars.  Not like a Hersheythey were very thick; they were not particularly sweet, but they had vitamins, you know, like the health things today.  And anyway, we were giving them whatever we had on us, and of course water.  And then 67 00:16:38.9 MH: What language are the prisoners speaking? 68 00:16:41.3 GS: Well, we didnt know it at the time, but there was a big mixture.  And later on, I meanyou know, I looked up the history of that and found out a lot of strange thingsI mean, just to fast forward later in my life, I had the opportunity to live in Spain for five years, and found out there were thousands of Spanish prisoners of war from the Spanish Civil War in Mauthausen and its sister camp, Gusen, which was a big granite quarry, which was even murder for these people because they really worked them to death there.  But there were a lot of Spanish prisoners.   69 00:17:32.7 And then, coincidentallyI dont know if you know the name Tibor Rubin?  Well, this happened, of course, much later, but there were a number of Hungarian prisoners.  And this one Tibor Rubin, who came there when he was about thirteen years old, and liberated by us, he was sixteenby the way, at that point I was eighteenwho went on afterwards to get American citizenship, join the Army, went to Korea and won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  You should look his history up.  He was very, very fond of the 11th Armored Division for liberating him.  Anyway, there were a lot of Hungarians, and Im sure from any number of other countries, speaking all different languages. 70 00:18:36.6 MH: What kind of day was it, weather-wise? 71 00:18:38.8 GS: Beautiful.  That whole month was beautiful.  In fact, we really loved it because all our memory was of late December and January around Bastogne: we froze our ass off.  But in late April, early May, it was beautiful. 72 00:19:2.9 MH: So, I mean, youre an eighteen-year-old kid, and youre in the midst of this horror.  How do you handle it?  How do you not break down? 73 00:19:9.9 GS: Well, we didntas far as I, I can only speak for myselfI didnt really realize.  I took a number of pictures.  I liberated a camera in my travels, so I took a number of pictures, but it didnt really register on me, frankly, cause we had left right there.  And two days later we did meet the Russians, and that day that we met them, thats when the armistice was signed.  And then we were brought back to Linz and put on a what they call a constabulary, which we drove around and down through what they called the redoubt area, thinking that there would be a lot of SS troops trying to stay alive and fight the Americanswhich never materialized.  And would just run combat patrols all over the whole area and never found anything, and started getting used to what you might call garrison life.   74 00:20:14.5 MH: When you were inside Mauthausen, and walking around, can you sort of describe to me what youre seeing as youre walking around?  Do you go into buildings; do prisoners come up and hug you?  What happens? 75 00:20:28.5 GS: So, the prisonersI didnt go in any buildings.  The buildings were not up by the front perimeter.  In other words, there was a big open area as you came through that main gate, and that whole main area was filled up by the initial vehicles.  We didntthe whole troop just drove in, but then stopped.  There were these prisoners walking all around.  The thing you didnt ask is, where were the German guards?  That was the thing we were looking for.  And there were only a handful who were at that point dead.  The prisoners had beat them to death, and we were later told that the majority of them had taken off very early in the morning and the night before because they knew we were just literally four or five miles away in Linz in the big city, and they took off in our direction.  We missed them; they didnt want to go where the Russians were, of course.  So, they went west.  But we didnt see them. 76 00:21:46.4 MH: So, when youre walking through the camp, youre atat this point, youre not sure whether there were Germans there or not. 77 00:21:51.6 GS: Thats right. 78 00:21:52.1 MH: So, youre carrying your carbine. 79 00:21:53.7 GS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. 80 00:21:54.8 MH:  And youre carrying it ready to use it? 81 00:21:57.7 GS:  Yeah, yeah. Its not on our shouldersno, no.  But then very quickly the word got around that there are none, no Germans there; and by this time, the other units pulled up, so that these people were then taken into the barracks and whatnot.  And as all this was going on, the report kept going back to headquarters, because literally within hours, you had not only other units, but you had the support units coming up.  You had, you know, medics coming in there, you had quartermasters coming in, that brought in trailers of water.  And 82 00:22:43.3 MH: I know at some point an evac hospital unit came in. 83 00:22:47.8 GS: Im sure, Im sure.  Because later on, of course, we knew about it from word getting around; they brought in the major officers, a general came in and whatnot, and they dragged in all the citizens from the town. 84 00:23:7.2 MH: But thats not something you saw.  You were gone by then. 85 00:23:10.1 GS: No.  We were gone. 86 00:23:11.5 MH: When youre walking around the camp, are you walking around with a buddy or are you by yourself? 87 00:23:15.2 GS: Oh, no, walking around with a buddy who was in my vehicle, whoby coincidence, just last week we had our sixty-fifth reunion of our division, and he was the only one still alive.  We were both eighteen.  And he came from Ohio.  Ive seen him each year; we see each other at these reunions.  And you know, we remember that part of it.  We generallyyou know, you generally stayed with the people who were in your vehicle.   88 00:23:50.2 MH: Whats his name? 89 00:23:51.1 GS: Don, D-o-n, Don Behm, B-e-h-m. 90 00:23:55.4 MH: And where does he live? 91 00:23:57.6 GS: He lives in Ohio.  I have his address if you want. 92 00:24:2.8 MH: When you have time.  So, the two of you are walking through this camp, having a conversation, or just sort of dumbfounded at what youre seeing? 93 00:24:13.1 GS: Dumbfounded.  And the people, you know, prisoners coming up to us and not knowing, you know, not knowing what to say.  Frankly, its hard to even remember it.  But its just, you have no words.  Youre looking at this and its kind of hard to believe. 94 00:24:34.1 MH: You stopped and took pictures? 95 00:24:35.6 GS: Yeah, I took a bunch of pictures, and it ended upI still have about three of them, four of them. 96 00:24:41.6 MH: So, the war ends and youre on what, occupation duty? 97 00:24:52.0 GS: I was on occupation dutyyeah, actually about a month after the war ended, the 11th Armored was disbanded, and not having enough points, I was transferred to the 4th Armored Division.  And I stayed with the 4th Armored Division until May of forty-six [1946] when I came back to the States. 98 00:25:19.3 MH: So, May of forty-six [1946].  You were there a full year. 99 00:25:23.6 GS: I was there a full year afterward. 100 00:25:25.3 MH: So, what do you do when you get home, finally? 101 00:25:27.5 GS: When I came home, first thing I did is, I got engaged to my girlfriend, and then enrolled in college, and we got married in Thanksgiving of forty-six [1946]. 102 00:25:45.8 MH: Where were you living? 103 00:25:47.8 GS: At that time, I was a New Yorker.  I lived inwell, I didntIm a Brooklyn boy, but I didnt live there, because when I went to warI have three brothers; all four of us were in the service, and my parents sold the house and moved into New York City.  They took an apartment.  And when I came back, I lived at that apartment four or five months until I got married.  And then my wife and I, we went back and we did have an apartment in Brooklyn, because I went to college in Brooklyn, Long Island University.  And we lived in New York until I graduated about five years later.  I graduated college. 104 00:26:35.5 MH: Whatd you get your degree in? 105 00:26:36.8 GS: Accounting.  And didnt practice it, because when I did graduate, they were payingin those days, in order to get your CPA certificate, you needed to be a junior accountant for three years with a CPA firm, and they were paying $35 to $45 a week.  Which I couldntafter all those years, couldnt manage.  So I got a job with a company, Everlast Sporting Goods. 106 00:27:14.3 MH: Boxing gloves. 107 00:27:16.4 GS: Boxing gloves, right, but at that time they were making all kinds of leather punching bags, baseball gloves, et cetera for the military.  But they still made the boxing gloves for Madison Square Garden, and that was one of my jobs.  Every Friday night, I took the gloves up to Madison Square Garden.  Funny thing.  But anyway, then, since my wife was actually originally from Philadelphia, we moved to Philadelphia.  Her father had a heart attack and we went to help out there.  And we stayed there in Philadelphia, and we lived in Philadelphia until we went to Spain. 108 00:28:3.7 MH: Whatd you do in Spain? 109 00:28:5.2 GS: Well, I had a businessI built up a business and my kids got old enough to go to college, and I wanted to do something different.  So, I was able to sell my business, and I guess you call it change of life or something?  My brother-in-law, my wifes brother, lived in Spain.  He was in the military and he got outhe was a lawyer, a judge advocate, and he got out of service.  He was stationed in Spain and loved it there, so he stayed there.  And we always would go and visit with him.  And I always liked that way of life; it was very gracious in the 1970s, in spite of Franco.  It was a very safe place to live and extremely cheap.  You went home for lunch, and you always had a maid.  (laughs)  I mean, it was a great life. 110 00:29:5.4 MH: Right.  What city did you live in? 111 00:29:6.9 GS: Madrid.  And then, by coincidenceafter five years we were going to come back anyway, cause I said to my wife wed only go for five years.  My kids got out of school.  They would come over on their holiday to visit, and my youngest son wanted toI had a business there, by the way, of importing handmade carpets, area rugs from Portugal, which are very high designer-type area rugs.  Anyway, he wanted to take over the business.  He had just graduated college, and I had heard from a guy that I sold my business to, had a branch in Florida, and he asked me if I would come back and run the branch. 112 00:29:57.5 MH:  What kind of business was that? 113 00:29:58.8 GS: It was servicing supermarkets with health and beauty aids and non-food items.  And that was my original business in Philadelphia that I had sold.  So, anyway, I came back, and it was an excuse, because really, I was going to go back to Philadelphia and had no particular job or business in mind.  Anyway, I came back to Florida and I ran that business for two years.  Its major customer was Food Fair; dont know if you know it. 114 00:30:29.4 MH: Dont know Food Fair. 115 00:30:30.7 GS: Well, anyways, it was a major chain, and I think they turned their name into Pantry Pride.  Whatever.  But anyway, it was a sole business, which was a mistake on the part of the guy who owned it, who didnt want to listen or diversify, et cetera, et cetera.  So, anyway, that company went bankrupt.  And I then went into the printing business, through my brother-in-lawI forget who, but somehow I got a line on a company that printed Christmas cards.  Anyway, I got into the printing business, and it was a socialit was not commercial printing, all personalized, social-type stationery and accessories.  And I had that until I retired, about six years ago.  My wife, alongside, always worked at Bloomingdales.  She still works at Bloomingdales; shes an eighteen-year veteran. 116 00:31:34.6 MH: And gets the discount. 117 00:31:36.4 GS: And has a permanent employee discount.   118 00:31:38.6 MH: There you go. 119 00:31:40.1 GS: And I keep telling her, I dont know what good its going to do me because when she retires, Im not going to have enough money to shop in Bloomingdales. 120 00:31:46.7 MH: Right.  When did you first tell people what you had seen at Mauthausen? 121 00:31:54.8 GS: Well, actually, frankly, I think it was only about three years ago, four years ago.  There was an affair here in Boca Raton sponsored by the Holocaust Museum of Washington.  There was a branch here in Florida, and there was eitherI forgot how, but there was some publicity, and they were requestingthe theme of that luncheon was liberators and survivors.  And anyway, my wife urged me to go to that luncheon, she came with me, and we went there and there were only about three liberators.  By the way, it was very well attended; there must have been 300 people there.  There were some guests.  But other than the three, maybe four liberators, the rest were all survivors and their families, which were the older Jewish people from all over, you know, Florida, came to that luncheon.   122 00:33:21.2 And at that luncheon, a reporter from the Palm Beach Post was there and came by my table and askedbecause, by the way, we wore special pins they gave us, with a ribbon, to distinguish us as liberators.  And anyway, she interviewed me and asked if she could come and have a full interview and bring a photographer.  Which, a few weeks later, she did; they came to my home.  And I think that was the first real time, you know, other than talking to some of the men that I met from my division; every time wed meet, wed tell war stories to each other. 123 00:34:22.3 MH: Did you ever tell your kids about it? 124 00:34:24.7 GS: Specifically, no.  They never asked.  No. 125 00:34:30.2 MH:  Was there a hesitation on your part to talk about it? 126 00:34:34.0 GS: No.  I mean in retrospect; of course, this has come up before when I would meet with my boyhood friends.  Were all grown now and living in different parts of the country.  And they were all in different branches of service.  We would meet, right after the war; we were all young married people and weafter a while, I was asking these questions.  We never spoke to each other about the war.  We were all involved with earning a living, we were involved with a brand new family, young children, you know, and we would constantly visit each otherwe were all childhood friendsand to this day I still have about four of them who are still living.  And even now when we meet, we make some jokes about it, this or that, but never really exchangenever really exchange any of our experiences.  You know, other than where we wereyou know, one was in the Navy, one was in the Coast Guard, another one was in the Signal Corps.  Two of them happened to staynot that they stayed in, they were in the reserves and they were called back in.  They went to Korea.  That part we did discuss, because it interrupted their occupations at the time. 127 00:36:5.6 MH: Were you a religious person before the war? 128 00:36:8.9 GS: No, not religious per se, no.  I knew my religion and I attended services. 129 00:36:18.8 MH: Youre Jewish? 130 00:36:20.3 GS: Yes.  And by some coincidence, and on the occupation, just as an aside, I did play piano and accordion.  And the Catholic chaplain got a hold of me, and I would travel with him on Sundays playing a field organ, which everybody thought was quite funny.  He always tried to convert me, but anyway, I would play the organ for him.  No, I wasnt religious.  I mean, I knew what was going on with the Germansvis--vis the Jewish people, which of course got my dander up. 131 00:37:13.4 MH: I was going to say, did you respond to it differently than the other guys because youre Jewish? 132 00:37:16.9 GS: Possibly.  There were three or four other Jewish boys in my troopnot my platoon, but in my troop.  About 120 men in the troop, you know.  And we would, when the occasion would be that we had a break in a particular day, we would talk about that at the end.  And we really saw after Mauthausen.  I think we were more involved in the early part of the war after Malmdy, because that was universal.  The first two days after that, there were no German prisoners taken.  It was an acknowledged fact, until the officers word came down that that had to stop.  And we, in our particular troop, we had a real reason to see it since pulling those bodies out of the frozen snow.  But I think that had more of an impression at that point than the concentration camp diduntil a few months after the war, when it really started to sink in and there was more and more publicityor news, I should say; not publicity, but news about it.  It started to sink in, what atrocities that went on.  At that point, no. 133 00:39:6.8 MH: Have you ever been confrontedor confronted people who denied that the Holocaust occurred? 134 00:39:13.9 GS: No.  No.  No.  I find that hard to believe, its so well documented.  I mean, Ive never been confronted by that.  If I ever was, I could very easily shut them up by showing them pictures, my own pictures.  You know, no.  And I cant understand how anybody could even be 135 00:39:40.2 MH: Theyre out there, and people believe them. 136 00:39:42.2 GS: I assume, but I mean its so asinine.  The world knows exactly what it is, and theres such a photographic history of it.  But anyway.  There are nuts all over. 137 00:39:58.0 MH: What are the pictures that you still have? 138 00:39:59.6 GS: One of them is of the ovens, another is a pilea pile of bodiesanother one with prisoners walking around.  I had originally, I dont know, about nine or ten; things keep getting misplaced. 139 00:40:23.1 MH: You dont have any pictures of the GIs in the camp, do you? 140 00:40:27.7 GS: In the camp, no.  I have pictures ofsome taken during combat, in my troop, in my vehicle.  And certainly I have them on occupation. 141 00:40:41.9 MH:  Do you have a picture of yourself over there? 142 00:40:44.1 GS: Oh, yeah, sure. 143 00:40:45.6 MH: What Id like to do if possible is get a picture of you from over there during the war, and then a current picture of yourself. 144 00:40:53.4 GS:  You mean, at my present age? 145 00:40:57.6 MH: At your present age, yes.  Yes, 2008 version. 146 00:41:3.3 GS: Yeah, fact is if I could find the write-upI guess its still available; I have some copies, if I can find itthat this reporter did.  It was a big picture of me now, and I think then.  And I still have my uniform, by the way, believe it or not. 147 00:41:30.2 MH: If you have a picture, an actual photograph of yourself, not from a newspaper, that would be better.  What Id like, if its okay with you, if you could send them to me, I could just scan them and send them right back to you. 148 00:41:48.4 GS: Yeah, I can do that. 149 00:41:49.1 MH: Ill send you an e-mail with my address, and if you could send me a photo of yourself from the war and something current, thatd be great.  And Ill get it right back to you.  I promise.  Anything else you can think of related to this?  Oh, I know what I wanted to ask you: there was an 11th Armored Division unit, and I dont know what unit Ive been trying to find that actually met the death march from the slave labor camp called Berga, where there were American POWs there that were being worked to death.  And Ive talked to two of the guys who survived that camp in the death march.  In fact, one of them lives not that far from you.  But I havent been able to been able to find any of the guys from the 11th Armored who saw that march.  You wouldnt happen to know anybody, would you? 150 00:42:42.2 GS: I dont know of anybody, but I have a very detailed history ofgee, if I knew that just last week, I could have easily gotten the answer. 151 00:42:53.6 MH: Thats why I asked them to distribute the fliers at the thing.  I was hoping that somebody would see it. 152 00:42:58.9 GS: Well, everybodysure, it was out of the tables.  Id seen it.  You know, thats why I picked one up.  And I saw of course that you were overhowd you make out, by the way, in the storm? 153 00:43:10.5 MH: We got, like, twenty hours of wind, and no big deal.  It didnt even rain a lot. 154 00:43:16.0 GS: So, I knew you wereI picked it up and figured Id contact you.  We had there the division historian, and there were guys from all thewell, not all, but the majority of the units, at least one or two or three from each of the units.  So, I could have asked.  But I can find that out from youI could let you know on that.   155 00:43:46.5 MH: If you could, Id really appreciate it, because its like the other side of the story.  You know, I know how these two guys felt when they finally saw the Americans, cause they didnt think theyd make it for another twelve hours before they dropped dead. 156 00:43:58.8 GS: They werent from the 11th Army 157 00:44:1.6 MH: No, they had been captured around the time of the Battle of the Bulge, and they were sent to Stalag IX Blet me turn the recorder off for a second



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