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William F. Sutton oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
William F. Sutton oral history interview
Series Title:
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
Uniform Title:
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects
Physical Description:
1 sound file (56 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Sutton, William F., 1923-
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 -- 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 William F. Sutton. Sutton went to Europe with the 63rd Infantry Division but was transferred to the 45th after the Battle of the Bulge; the 45th went on to liberate Dachau on April 29, 1945. On the way to Munich, his unit was diverted to Dachau, arriving at the camp late in the afternoon; they spent about four hours there on guard duty, during which time Sutton did not see any prisoners, and then left, spending the night in the nearby town. The next day, they came upon Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau famous for its porcelain factory. Sutton met a Hungarian prisoner who spoke English, who followed them to Munich and joined his unit, staying with them for the next four months. The man eventually immigrated to the United States, and Sutton visited him several times. In 1990 Sutton and his son attended a reunion of former Dachau prisoners and spoke with some of them.
Venue:
Interview conducted April 12, 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 - 025699424
oclc - 690257817
usfldc doi - C65-00135
usfldc handle - c65.135
System ID:
SFS0022181:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


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Oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator William F. Sutton. Sutton went to Europe with the 63rd Infantry Division but was transferred to the 45th after the Battle of the Bulge; the 45th went on to liberate Dachau on April 29, 1945. On the way to Munich, his unit was diverted to Dachau, arriving at the camp late in the afternoon; they spent about four hours there on guard duty, during which time Sutton did not see any prisoners, and then left, spending the night in the nearby town. The next day, they came upon Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau famous for its porcelain factory. Sutton met a Hungarian prisoner who spoke English, who followed them to Munich and joined his unit, staying with them for the next four months. The man eventually immigrated to the United States, and Sutton visited him several times. In 1990 Sutton and his son attended a reunion of former Dachau prisoners and spoke with some of them.
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PAGE 1

COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 20 1 0 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
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time 00:00:0.4
text Michael Hirsh: Your name is William F. Sutton, S-u-t-t-o-n?
1
00:00:2.9
William F. Sutton: Thats correct.
2
00:00:4.1
MH: And you live at.
3
00:00:5.2
WS: Thats right.
4
00:00:6.4
MH: And your phone number is. Whats your date of birth, sir?
5
00:00:9.9
WS: 5-31-23 [May 31, 1923].
6
00:00:15.8
MH: Twenty-three [1923]. Can you tell me a little bit about where you grew up and what brought you into the Army?
7
00:00:22.2
WS: Yeah, I grew up in Macon, moved here in 1929. Graduated high school in forty-one [1941] and went to Davidson College in North Carolina. In November of forty-two [1942], they came around and said, If you enlist in the Reserves, well let you finish college. So, I joined the Reserves, believing that. Well, in April of forty-three [1943], they called us to active duty. They reneged on their agreement.
8
00:01:11.4
MH: That was the ASTP [Army Specialized Training Program] program?
9
00:01:13.6
WS: No. No, that was just Reserves. I dont think it was ASTP.
10
00:01:21.1
MH: Oh, okay.
11
00:01:21.9
WS: Army Reserves.
12
00:01:24.6
MH: So, they called you up for active duty.
13
00:01:28.2
WS: Thats correct, in April of forty-three [1943].
14
00:01:30.6
MH: Thats when I was born.
15
00:01:32.6
WS: (laughs) I was sent to Camp Croft, South Carolina for basic infantry training, out of Spartanburg. The camp is no longer there, of course. And as soon as we got there, a friend of mine who had also attended Davidson College, we made application to get in the Air Corps. We wanted to be pilots. And we went to Greenville, South Carolina, a few miles away from Spartanburg, to take our physicals and mentals and all that. We took several weeks, and we had practically completed the infantry training by the time we heard from the Air Corps, but we were transferred to the Air Corps and entered the cadet program. They sent us down to Keesler Field down in Mississippi, where we took Air Corps basic, which wed already just finished infantry basic training.
16
00:02:58.6
And then, likeI guess October, maybethey sent us to Springfield, Massachusetts, to Springfield College, to take courses like geography and mathematics and such as that. And that college was where basketball was invented. They had two gyms, and I had played basketball at Davidson, so I played basketball every night and didnt have to study, really. And then they sent us to Nashville after we completed that training, about three months at Springfield College, to reclassify you as pilot, bombardier, or navigator. I was classified as a pilot, but they had a backlog of people that were waiting to get in the program to be pilots. They sent us to Columbus, Mississippi to wait to get into Maxwell Field to be a pilot. And we serviced planes there. It was an advancedwait a minute, someones talking to me. Hold on a sec. (talks to someone in the background)
17
00:04:54.0
MH: Would it be better if we talked later tonight or tomorrow?
18
00:04:56.5
WS: No, its okay.
19
00:04:59.0
MH: All right. Did they tell you what kind of plane you were going to be trained to fly?
20
00:05:4.1
WS: No.
21
00:05:5.8
MH: No? Okay.
22
00:05:7.6
WS: They had twin-engine planes there that werewell, the guys graduating got their wings and lieutenant bars from Columbus Army Air Base. And then, like I say, they had a backlog, so if we had been intransferred from a previous branch of service, they sent us back to that branch. So, they sent us back to the infantry. Lets see, somewhere in Mississippi.
23
00:05:52.7
MH: How disappointed were you?
24
00:05:54.3
WS: Very, very. In fact, we got our folks and all different people to call our representatives and senators, and we raised a lot of Cain. In fact, they busted us up when we got back to the infantry, just split us all up, because we were very disappointed, and showed it. About a weekoh, seems like a week after we got back to the infantry training there, I got a place on my gum, looked like a blood blister; it was something to do with diet, in addition to whatever it was. Ive forgotten now.
25
00:07:5.8
MH: It was something to do with what?
26
00:07:7.0
WS: Diet.
27
00:07:8.7
MH: Oh, diet, okay. Yeah.
28
00:07:11.4
WS: So, they sent me to the dentist, this clinic, and they treated that for several weeks. I went to New Orleans the first time with this major who was the dentist there. Of course, we split up when we got down there, because he was a major and I was a private. I just remember that. Then that was the 63rd Division that we were in, at a place called Camp Van Dorn, right out of Centerville, Mississippi, which is forty miles
29
00:08:17.5
Hello?
30
00:08:17.8
MH: Yes, Im here. I hear you.
31
00:08:20.7
WS: I hear something on the phone. You hear that?
32
00:08:23.8
MH: Uh, no.
33
00:08:26.1
WS: Okay. Its on my phone; maybe someones trying to call, I dont know. Anyway, lets see.
34
00:08:36.9
MH: So, youre at the, what, 63rd Division?
35
00:08:39.4
WS: 63rd Division, right. We trained there, and then they sent us above New York City, and right after Thanksgiving, they sent us on a troop ship and landed at Marseille, France. They told us they changed course every eight minutes because of submarines: we came down the coast of the United States opposite Jacksonville, and then we went toward the Straits of Gibraltar and landed at Marseille.
36
00:09:22.3
MH: And this was in?
37
00:09:24.4
WS: Forty-three [1943].
38
00:09:25.9
MH: In forty-three [1943], okay. They moved you around a whole lot in those six months.
39
00:09:31.4
WS: Yes, sir. We landedwait a minute, I may be wrong. Im saying forty-three [1943].
40
00:09:44.5
MH: Im thinking it might be forty-four [1944].
41
00:09:46.7
WS: I believe its forty-four [1944]. Yes, sir, youre correct. We landed at Marseille, France, and stayed there a week or two, and then it was real cold. All day, wed look for firewood.
42
00:10:12.8
MH: Were you still in the 63rd, or they had pulled you out and put you into another division?
43
00:10:17.2
WS: No, that was still the 63rd. Then we shipped north on trains, regular old 40-and-8 boxcars, and we went north. I think we went through Mcon, France, which I remember well, and on to Nancy, France. We ended up in Sarreguemines, Germany [sic],
Sarreguemines is actually in France, near the German border.
and we were thereI dont know what we were doing, tell the truth. But in the latter part ofwell, we went off on the line on January 1, forty-five [1945], and we werethey came and said, Weve been outflanked by the Germans; weve got to retreat. So, we retreated and walked all day and night and came right back to the same place the next morning, early, at daylight. Then we went on back into Sarreguemines, Germany, and I think I was there when the Battle of the Bulge occurred, up further north than where we were. But the 45th Division was involved on the southern part of the battle line, and they lost a whole battalion.
44
00:12:30.3
So, I was a staff sergeant at that time, and they transferred non-coms [non-commissioned officers] and officers from surrounding divisions and brought in troops from the States to fill up this battalion of the 45th Division. But personally, that was a break for me, because the 63rd didnt know what they were doing. They were green. The 45th had been in North Africa and went through and invaded Sicily and took Sicily; you know, that was an island. And then they invaded at Anzio, and then pulled them out of there and invaded Salerno, Italy, and theyd come up through Italy and invaded southern France after D-Day invasion from the Atlantic. The 45th invaded southern France off the Mediterranean. So, like I say, they knew what they were doing. I was fortunate to be transferred.
45
00:13:53.1
MH: Did you get into heavy combat right away?
46
00:13:55.6
WS: We got in combat, yes. March 18, we attacked the Siegfried Line, which, as you probably know, is a series of concrete fortifications on the German side of the border. France had the Maginot Line on the French side of the border between France and Germany. We attacked, and I was very fortunate to be in the reserve platoon. We attacked with two platoons forward, and had about forty men in each platoon. At the end of the day, they had twelve in one and twenty in the other left.
47
00:14:50.2
MH: Ooh.
48
00:14:51.7
WS: And the third platoon moved through and attacked another portion of the Siegfried Line. We used these big bomb-type things. I cant think what the term we called them, but we put them right next to the concrete fortification, and it went off. And a lot of times, it came out. We also used flamethrowers. Theyd shoot through where they fired out of the concrete bunkers and burned the oxygen out of there, and the Germans just had to come out.
49
00:15:48.4
So, we took out the pillboxes, and we went on north to a place called Aschaffenburg. We crossed on a railroad bridge over a river; I cant remember the name of it. It was at Aschaffenburg. And then we attacked across an open field, I remember. They could see us coming 300 or 400 yards, and they were firing out of the basements. And we lost some guys.
50
00:16:35.6
MH: Were you hit in any of this?
51
00:16:37.5
WS: No, sir. Never got a scratch. The good Lord looked after me. But they pulled tanks up alongside us there, and we knew theyd draw artillery fire if they had any artillery. So, another guy and I, we went and got in a deep hole, so to speak, like a ditch. And they knew where that ditch was, and they started dropping mortar fire along. But I dont remember any of us getting hit. I didnt, anyway, I know.
52
00:17:21.0
Then Aschaffenburg surrendered, and we went into town and I remember we finallywe were in this German home, and the woman agreed to cook a good meal for us. We went to a meat market, and the guy said hed been in the States. I think he said Boston, up that way, anyway, somewhere. But we got some good steaks, and the woman cooked for us, and we had a good meal, I remember that.
53
00:18:13.0
MH: They werent short of good food, then.
54
00:18:16.4
WS: No, they didnt seem to be short of food at all. Of course, we ate K rations, all we had, and thats why we enjoyed that particular meal.
55
00:18:27.9
MH: Whats the difference between Ks and Cs?
56
00:18:29.8
WS: Pardon?
57
00:18:31.7
MH: The difference between K rations and C rations?
58
00:18:34.3
WS: K rations were in a box. C rations, it seemed like, were in metal cans.
59
00:18:45.1
MH: Yeah, I had Cs in Vietnam, but we never had Ks.
60
00:18:49.2
WS: You remember what Cs were?
61
00:18:50.3
MH: Yeah, I remember what Cs were: they were cans.
62
00:18:53.0
WS: Yeah, thats what I remember. But Ks were in a box. You had a box for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for supper. Breakfast had coffee in it; lunch had, it seemed like, soup; and supper had chocolate. You could mix it with water and make chocolate.
63
00:19:19.7
MH: How long did you stay in Aschaffenburg?
64
00:19:25.5
WS: We moved on out pretty quickly.
65
00:19:29.5
MH: When youre moving, youre moving in trucks or Jeeps, or what are you in?
66
00:19:36.0
WS: I think most of the time we were on tanks. Part of the time, we were in trucks. I was never in a Jeep. Lets see, I cant think where we went.
67
00:19:55.7
MH: Out of curiosity, whats it like riding on a tank when youre in a combat situation? Youre pretty exposed on that thing.
68
00:20:2.9
WS: Thats true. But usually by the time the tanks get there, the infantry or somebodys gotten rid of the enemy, and theyre not firing at you, really.
69
00:20:16.6
MH: Oh, okay.
70
00:20:18.2
WS: I think we moved on down toward Nuremberg, and we went on the autobahn, the first one Id ever seen, and they had portions of it in the center that was concrete instead of grass; they just painted it green. And the Germans used the autobahns to land planes on, from time to time, when they needed to. Lets see. We took Nuremberg. I dont think I was involved in the actual combat, but we moved into there after it had been taken.
71
00:21:20.5
Then we went on down toward Munich, and we had a problem at the Danube [River]. They had blown the bridge crossing the Danube. We had crossed the Rhine [River] at night on small boats, but we had no problem. I think after we crossed the Rhine is when we got on the tanks and moved on. But the Danube, they had blown the bridges, and they firedwe called them Screaming Mimis. What the heck were they? They were not mortars; I cant think of the term. They had us there, but we crossed. And the Danube had a real swift current, I remember. We had to head upstream and just angle across to get across to where we wanted to land. And then we got on those tanks and moved on toward Munich. And we arrived in the town of Dachau, and like I say, they sent us into the camp, actual concentration camp of Dachau, about four oclock in the afternoon.
72
00:23:8.5
MH: At this point, had they told you anything about concentration camps?
73
00:23:12.2
WS: I dont recall that they had. I dont think so. We may have just, by osmosis, so to speak, learned something about them. But we stayed there till about eight oclock in the night because we were going to spearhead on toward Munich, which is about fifteen kilometers, as I recall.
74
00:23:43.4
MH: So, you were at the camp for about four hours?
75
00:23:46.6
WS: Yeah, right.
76
00:23:48.2
MH: What was your first sight of the camp?
77
00:23:50.7
WS: Well, there were no prisoners there. I remember there was one guy there, like he had onhe had been an inmate of the hospital there or something, and he was pitiful. But I dont remember much about Dachau. While I was there, however, I saw our commanding general for the first time; he came with some of the other officers, came to look at it. His name was [Robert T.] Frederick, as I recall. I think he was a two-star general.
78
00:24:27.4
MH: So, what was hego ahead, Im sorry.
79
00:24:31.7
WS: We came back into the town of Dachau and gotthese German families had nice houses. We went in and got them out of their beds and sent them down to the air raid shelters in the basement. We took eggs every chance we got to a place like that, so we got in the kitchen and cooked us up some food. We picked up two Polish guys from the camp some way, and they were going to stand guard for us while we slept that night.
80
00:25:9.1
MH: These were guys in prison uniforms?
81
00:25:11.4
WS: Yeah, they had been prisoners. And then the next morning, we started on foot toward Munich, and we came upon this subsidiary camp of Dachau called Allach. And they broke outthe inmates broke out. The German guards took off toward Munich, getting away from where we were advancing toward them, and they broke out of the camp and came running to meet us and kissed us on our hands. They were so happy.
82
00:25:56.3
MH: Howd you feel about this?
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00:25:58.3
WS: Well, it was just part of the war, I reckon. I dont know how I felt.
84
00:26:7.4
MH: Were these prisoners who had beenthey were new prisoners and not starved to death yet, or were they the walking dead?
85
00:26:16.8
WS: No, these guys were pretty well fed. They were not like you think of concentration people. Somehow or another, they had got food there, and theyone thing they did, they went out to these mounds where they had Irish potatoes stored in these earth mounds outside the camp and got them some potatoes. But I got to talking to this guy who had on a Hungarian army cap. He had lived in Budapest, but he had someway gone to American school in Berlin and learned English and American history and all, and his name was Andor Dezsofi.
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00:27:19.0
MH: Andor?
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00:27:21.4
WS: Mm-hm. A-n-d-o-r D-e-z-s-o-f-i, I guess, something close to that. I talked to him probably an hour or so, and then we moved on.
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00:27:41.9
MH: What did he tell you about?
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00:27:43.7
WS: Well, we just talked about him going to school. His father had been in Paris in 1940 and gotten out and someway got to the United States, and he was an importer in New York; and his mother had died in the concentration camp. But what happened was, we were on guard duty in Munich two days later, and he came by with this other prisoner who still had on the uniform, prison uniform, and said they were going to find this guy some clothes, but he wanted to go and join up with us. And we told him, Okay, come on. We had lost some guys and were short of men in my squad, in fact. So, he joined up with us.
90
00:28:54.2
MH: Thats pretty unusual.
91
00:28:56.0
WS: Yes, sir. And he stayed with us, even though we had some orders to get rid of all thesewe had several people that we had picked up. One was a Czech guy we picked up on the autobahn when we were riding tanks, and he joined up with us. And he hadin fact, in Nuremberg, he found out someway that this German sniper wanted to surrender. He and I went in this dark basement and told the German to come out, Raus mit Du! Come on out! and he did. And he looked like a giant, because he had on these coverings on these hobnail boots where he wouldnt make any noise. And he came out, and Ive got a pistol that I took off of him that I still have. It was a Belgian army automatic that he had taken from somewhere.
92
00:30:18.5
MH: And it was the Czech guy who talked the sniper out?
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00:30:21.2
WS: He went with me.
94
00:30:23.8
MH: Oh, the two of you went in there.
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00:30:25.0
WS: Yeah. It was a dark basement, and he found out that this guy was in there and wanted to surrender.
96
00:30:32.3
MH: How do you find out things like that when youre in a combat situation?
97
00:30:36.3
WS: Well, somebody justI guess he heard some Germans talking or something. I really dont remember exactly how he found out. But he told me, so we went in there and told him to raus, come on out. And he did, and like I say, he wanted to surrender.
98
00:31:1.6
MH: The guy that you found at AllachIm sorry, you said he was Polish or Hungarian?
99
00:31:9.0
WS: Hungarian, from Budapest.
100
00:31:10.9
MH: Hungarian. Was he Jewish?
101
00:31:12.5
WS: Yes.
102
00:31:14.0
MH: Did he tell you anything about what the Nazis had done? Did he talk about them?
103
00:31:22.2
WS: I dont remember, to tell you the truth. Im sure he did, but I cant remember exactly what he told. But he stayed with us. That was in the latter part of April or first of May. In fact, the war ended, I think, officially on May 8.
104
00:31:45.7
MH: Right. And he stayed with you all the way to the end?
105
00:31:48.4
WS: All the way to when we shipped out in September.
106
00:31:53.4
MH: Really? And the higher-ups, the officers, didnt mind the fact that you had?
107
00:31:59.4
WS: Well, the orders came along to get rid of these people that wed acquired, but we didnt get rid of this guy. We called him Andy; his name was Andor.
108
00:32:10.6
MH: He spoke English?
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WS: Very fluently. Like I say, he went to American school in Berlin. And he helped us a whole lot, like on guard post in Munich. Wed be on guard duty for several hours and then off a day, and he helped the officers. I remember he got a guy to make him some ice cream, a former inmate friend of his or something. And they had ice cream, (laughs) which was a right significant thing for the war. But he was a real help. I remember I was on guard duty with him on a post in Munich, and this gentleman came running up to us and said the Russians werehe was a baker, and they had come in and were stealing his bread. So, we went down there and told these Russians they couldnt do that. We carried them back to their barracks, relatively close to where this bakery was, and we had to drink some vodka with them, but we got them back in the barracks.
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MH: I didnt realize that the Russians had come through that far.
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WS: Yep. I dont know how it was, but thats what happened. I dont know how they got to Munich.
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MH: Can I take you back to the camp at Dachau for a minute? Earlier, you had said when you had gotten there, some guards had been shot.
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WS: Correct.
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MH: Did that happen before you got there, or were you there when it happened?
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WS: No, thats why we relieved these guys. American people had shot em. They had come into Dachau, and so they pulled them out and put us in there.
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MH: Was this the coal bin incident?
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WS: The what?
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MH: Was this the incident at the coal bin, where a bunch of guards had been machine gunned?
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WS: I dont know about the coal bin. I cant remember.
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MH: Okay. So, what orders were you given when you went in there?
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WS: Well, we relieved the guys who had done the shooting, I remember that. But we just walked around the camp. There wasnt anybody there.
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MH: Where were all the prisoners?
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WS: I dont know where they were, to tell you the truth. They were gone. Like I said, this one guy who had been in the hospital for the mentally retarded was still there. We went to the crematorium; it was just outside the camp of Dachau. And they hadwhen we went into Dachau, we went in the main entrance, and alongside the road going in there was a railroad siding that had boxcars full of bodies. They hadthe Germans had shipped them there from some other camp, concentration camp, and they were going to cremate them. They were just stacked in there like cordwood or something.
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MH: How do you react to something like that? I mean, do you get sick?
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WS: No, I dont remember getting sick. It was just part of the war. Just part of it.
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MH: You were in, what, C Company of the 157th?
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WS: Thats correct.
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MH: Okay. So, you saw the train before you went into the camp.
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WS: Thats right. It was right alongside it, as we were going into the main entrance.
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MH: And you went into what they called the Jourhaus Gate?
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WS: The what?
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MH: It was the big gate.
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WS: Yeah, we went through the main gate. All these camps had on the gate in ironwork German writing, so to speak, that work would make you free.
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MH: Yeah, Arbeit macht frei.
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WS: What?
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MH: Arbeit macht frei, work would make you free.
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WS: Right.
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MH: What else did you see in the camp? Did you go into any of the buildings?
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WS: No. We went to the crematorium. Like I say, it was outside the actual boundaries of the camp, adjacent to it. They had a bunch of bodies there that they were preparing to put intoI think they had about four ovens that they cooked them in, so to speak. And one thing that makes me a little confused: I went back there in 1990, with my son; we toured Europe. And we went to Dachau, and it was on a Sunday morning, and there were about 3,000 former prisoners having a reunion there that particular Sunday. I talked to several of them and went to the crematorium. I dont know, it sort of mingled in with what I did there that Sunday morning.
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But we were pulled out during the war. We left Dachau and went in these German homes, and got up early the next morning and started toward Munich on foot, and thats when we came up on Allach, the subsidiary camp. And then, two days later, we were on guard duty in Munich, and Andor Dezsofi, like I said, came by with this guy, trying to help find clothes to get his prison uniform off. He wanted to go with us, and we told him to come on. And he stayed with us until we shipped out in September from Le Havre, France. He came by, in fact, the next morning when we were loading on the ship, and he said the MPs [military police] had gotten in Le Havre, because he had on a uniform and didnt have any dog tags. And so we stopped the loading procedure, and I got my captain to write him a letter stating that hed been an interpreter for us or something, and the captain did and wrote him a letter where he wouldntyou know, it showed that he was okay.
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Later on, he worked his way to So Paulo, Brazil, where he had an uncle, and then came to the States. He came through into the States through New Orleans, and went to New York and located his father. And in 1948, I went up there and met him in New York, found him. He was working with another guy refinishing office furniture at that time. And years later, several years later, he cameexcuse methrough Macon on his honeymoon to Florida; hed married this wealthy Jewish girl, and her family made bridal veils and bridal dresses. And he joined up with them some way, worked for that company or managed it or something. And he smoked cigarettes so bad he got cancer of the tongue and had to have the end of his tongue removed. But we went up there and visited with him several times. I remember one time, he had a Cadillac convertible that we drove around New York in, sightseeing and so forth. He died after about ten years, I think.
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MH: You started to say youd been at this reunion of former prisoners at Dachau.
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WS: Say that again?
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MH: When you went to Europe with your son, you said you had gone back to Dachau.
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WS: Right.
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MH: What was that like, being there again with the former prisoners?
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WS: Well, we talked to several of them. This one guy was a retired detective from Vienna, I believe, Austria, and he had his grandson with him. They had removed that railroad track paralleling the road into the entrance, and I asked him about that. I remember it wasnt correct that the train track was there, and he said, Yes, that was correct, that he had worked on that railroad. He spoke very good English, so we conversed and all. Lets see, what else did we do? We stayed there all morning, I remember. My son and I drove to Bertschesgaden that afternoon.
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MH: What did you do work-wise when you came home to Macon?
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WS: I finished school. I went to Mercer Universitydidnt go back to Davidson Collegeand graduated from Mercer in forty-eight [1948].
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(baby crying in background) Weve got some people here that are working for us; theyve got a baby or something.
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MH: I hear that. What did you graduate in? Whatd you study?
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WS: Economics. (laughs) But I went to work for an auction company and became an auctioneer, and did that until I retired in eighty-one [1981], I guess.
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MH: When did you get married?
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WS: Forty-six [1946]. Got married before I finished school.
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MH: How many kids you have?
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WS: Had two girls and a boy.
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MH: And now you have, what, grandchildren and great-grandchildren?
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WS: Got grandchildren; dont have any greats.
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MH: How many grandkids?
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WS: Four.
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MH: Four. Did the experiences you had in the war come back to you later in life? Any adjustment problems, or do you have nightmares?
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WS: No, I never had nightmares. I remembered a lot of things. They stay with you. I wouldnt call them nightmares. I think about it still.
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MH: What things come up the most when you think about it?
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WS: Well, things like the Siegfried Line, and the guy that transferred with me from the 63rd to the 45th; his name was Taylor. He stepped on a land mine when we wereso I was told; I didnt see it, of course. It killed him, blew him up, when we were attacking the Siegfried. He was in one of those platoons that was forward, and I was in the reserve platoon. And we moved through the first line, and we went to go attack these other pillboxes.
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MH: What was it like being back in Germany and dealing with German people, having seen what some of the Germans did during the war?
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WS: Well, of course, they didnt have any control over it. They were under Nazi rule, but I dont know. We didnt hold it against them. I dont think they did, either, with the fact that we were over them in the situation. There was guy named Eisner, he was Jewish. Harry Eisner; he was from Brooklyn. They sent us to outside Reims, France, on the way home. From Germany, we were headed to where we could get on a ship in France. We were in a big redeployment camp there in Reims, outside Reims, France, when news came of the Japanese surrender. And of course, we were jubilant over that, cause we were on the way to Japan.
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MH: Thats what Ive heard, that the plan was to ship you guys to New York, put you on trains across the county, and out youd go the other end.
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WS: Thats right, exactly. So, we were, as I said, very happy about that. But since we were in the process of being shipped back, we came on home, and landed in Boston and took trains south to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I got on a train there, or a bus, and came home to Macon. But then I had to report to Texas, somewhere in Texas, close to Fort Bliss, and there we were deactivated, the 45th was deactivated. I had about sixty, seventy men under me. We went to Fort Bliss, and they wanted me to type at Fort Bliss. I didnt know how to type, but they thought since I was a sergeant in thewhat do they call it? I was in the home platoon or something; I cant think of the right
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MH: What, headquarters?
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WS: Headquarters, maybe, yeah. But Id never typed, never actually typed. So, they got mad at me cause I wouldnt type, and sent me to a POW camp in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I was acting first sergeant there. And we sent German prisoners out with a guard every day to work in the fields. I think the farmers paid them $3 a day or something to pick cotton or whatever.
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I was there, and my mother had a serious operation in Atlanta. Like I said, we lived in Macon, but she had to go to Atlanta to have this operation. I got my dad to contact the Red Cross, and they gotI was coming home to be with her at the time, and I was at Fort Bliss, back at Fort Bliss from out of the POW camp in Las Cruces, and they said, Since you got so many points to get out, were just gonna let you go home. So, I got out of the Army there at Fort Bliss. And I had never been awarded the Bronze Star. They awarded it in Europe, but I had never gotten it. So, the morning I got out, there was a general there that gave me the Bronze and put it on me, the Bronze Star.
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MH: The Bronze Star with V?
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WS: Pardon?
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MH: For valor?
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WS: I couldnt hear you. What?
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MH: I said, was this the Bronze Star with V on it?
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WS: I dont know. Just a Bronze Star.
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MH: A Bronze Star, okay. So, you had one interesting experience, and fortunately never got hit. That was
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WS: That is very true.
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MH: I cant tell you how many guys Ive talked to who were hit multiple times, you know, most often little injuries, but theyyou know.
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WS: Like I said, the good Lord was just with me.
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MH: Yeah. Okay. I have one last question, which has nothing to do with the war. In Macon, Georgia, did you ever know a man named Joe Hirsh? He owned a scrap metal business there.
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WS: Yes, I knew him.
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MH: Thats my cousin.
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WS: Is that right?
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MH: Yep. Joe and his son, Alvin.
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WS: Yeah, I know them.
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MH: We once came down thereit must have been in the seventies [1970s]and they had a lake house not far from there, and we stayed at the lake house.
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WS: Is that right?
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MH: Yep. Ill never forget swimming in the lake: the lake had to be 100 degrees.
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WS: (laughs) Macons a hot place in the summertime.
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MH: Yes. Yeah, Joe Hirsh was my cousin.
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WS: Yeah, I knew him pretty well. Hed come to auction to buy stuff for his business, and I stayed in the auction business till I retired. I was with a firm called Hudson Marshall, and we had houses all over the United States. We had an extensive firm. Had a lot of fun doing that, made a little money.
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MH: Thats a good thing. Mr. Sutton, I thank you very, very much for your time you took with me. I really appreciate it.
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WS: Im glad to do it.
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MH: Do you have an e-mail address?
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WS: Yes, but I dont even know how to turn on a computer. My wife can give it to you, if you hold on.
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MH: Okay. If she would, Id appreciate it, because whatI forgot to ask you: do you have any photos, or a photo, of you from World War II era?
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WS: I probably do; Id have to look em up. A guy who came up here to talk to me from the World War II museum in New Orleans took a couple of photographsone was of the general pinning the Bronze Star on meand hes never returned them. This has been a few months ago.
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MH: Okay. And thats the World War II museum in New Orleans?
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WS: Thats correct.
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MH: Okay.
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WS: Wait just a second.
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MH: Okay, thank you.
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WS: Hold on.
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(to Mrs. Sutton) Jeannie? Give this guy our computer information. Okay.
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MH: Okay, I got it. Ill send you an e-mail, because Id like, if its possible that you have a picture from World War II and a picture of you now, if you could send it to me so I could copy it, and then Ill send it back to you.
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WS: Shes checking to be sure. Hold on a minute.
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MH: Okay.
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WS: Thats correct, she says.
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MH: Okay. Well, Ill send you an e-mail that has my address and name and all that stuff, and about the book.
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WS: Okay.