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Jean Fenchel oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (4 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (3 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 November 30, 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 Jean Fenchel, widow of Holocaust concentration camp liberator Herbert D. Fenchel. Dr. Fenchel was a member of the 4th Armored Division, which liberated Ohrdruf on April 4, 1945. His tank was one of the first to enter the gates. He died in October 2008, before this interview was conducted. Mrs. Fenchel briefly describes her husband's initial encounter with Ohrdruf and recounts a trip that she and her husband made to the camp many years later.
Fenchel, Herbert D.,
Armored Division, 4th.
Ohrdruf (Concentration camp)
World War, 1939-1945
x Concentration camps
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
z United States.
Crimes against humanity.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center.
University of South Florida.
Special & Digital Collections.
Oral History Program.
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects.
Concentration camp liberators oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
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xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript segment idx 0 time 00:00:0.5 text Jean Fenchel: saw [Dwight D.] Eisenhower and [Omar] Bradley, and who was the other one? Oh, and [George S.] Patton. 1 00:00:8.2 Michael Hirsh: Right. 2 00:00:10.9 JF: Yeah. In fact, his tank was first at that point, because he was in reconnaissance and broke down the gates. Yeah, he said the sight was awful, and those pictures are in there, everywhere. And he has worked on documentation that his tank was there on April 4, 1945. He had a history nut down the street that rode here, that wanted to be sure of that, so Bruce really did search that one out. I think he read [Albin] Irzyks book and Pattons book. Albin Irzyk was also interviewed for the Concentration Camp Liberator s Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is C65-00062. And hes gothe had the one that, you know, was done closer toright after the war. 3 00:00:54.8 MH: But he did talk to you about knocking down the gate? 4 00:00:58.2 JF: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And he actually had a picture of himself, and its here somewherein fact, we put it in the obituarywhere he was standing in front of his tank. When we went to visit Ohrdrufit was a German training camp. It had first been Russian and then German. Right away, you know, he said who he was at the gates, and they let him come in, and there was another couple and me. They said, Well, the rest of them cant come in, but I want to take you up to the commandant. Anyway, the commandant saw the picture and was real interested and all that, and lined up an officer or sergeant or something to take us around. 5 00:01:46.4 At any rate, you know, they plasteredthey wanted to see us the next day, and blew up the picture in the meantime and hung it on their wall. So it wasyou know, that was pretty interesting, to see the same area. He pointed to where his tank had come down the hill, and they could see this and they could hear the machine guns shooting people who were still alive. It was, you know, gruesome. So, yeah, he told me about all of that. 6 00:02:19.8 MH: Did he have any contact with Irzyk in the past few years? 7 00:02:22.7 JF: He was always going to do that, and I dont know; it was likeI think he was afraid to. He had said he was going to, and then hed say, Oh, Im going to do that next week. Ill be ready, and you know, just never did get him called. But he had his book. So, I dont know. I just thinkI think he was just concerned that Irzyk would flip him off, and I dont believe that would have happened. 8 00:02:48.1 MH: Yeah, I dont think so, either. 9 00:02:49.8 JF: Oh, I dont know. Sometimes, he was like that. 10 00:02:53.2 MH: Okay. What is your name? 11 00:02:56.2 JF: Jean Fenchel. 12 00:02:58.4 MH: Jean. Okay. And you said he died when, in October? 13 00:03:2.4 JF: October 19. 14 00:03:4.2 MH: October 19. 15 00:03:6.0 JF: He had ahes had heart issues most of his life. His first heart attack was at twenty-nine; he had a bypass just before we were married in eighty-seven wait, he had it in eighty-six . So, he was having heart valve trouble, and it just closed up on him all of a sudden, and he was gone. 16 00:03:24.4 MH: Okay. Well, I thank you very, very much for calling me back. 17 00:03:28.3 JF: Yeah. 18 00:03:29.0 MH: I really appreciate it. 19 00:03:29.1 JF: Im sorry I cant help you more. 20 00:03:30.4 MH: Thats okay. Thank you. He didnt take any pictures in the camp, did he? 21 00:03:34.6 JF: No. You mean when he was there? 22 00:03:38.8 MH: Yeah, during the war? 23 00:03:40.3 JF: No. He didnt have a camera, no. 24 00:03:42.5 MH: All right. Well, thank you very much. I sure appreciate you calling me back. 25 00:03:45.7 JF: You bet. 26 00:03:46.4 MH: Okay, bye. 27 00:03:47.7 MH: That was Jean Fenchel, wife of Bruce D. Fenchel, F-e-n-c-h-e-l. He was in the 4th Armored Division, 8th Tank Battalion, that got to Ohrdruf.