Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Several liberators tell their stories during Plenary Session

Film | RG Number: RG-60.3798 | Film ID: 2640

Miles Lerman at podium, introduces individuals one by one and calls them to the dais. Session is chaired by Sigmund Strochlitz, survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Strochlitz speaks. Cutaways to some delegates listening. Speaks of liberation from viewpoint of survivors, waiting, life ebbing away. Shared dismay at current denial of the Holocaust and the killing of six million Jews, millions of others. The victims and the victors are now preserve the truth.

9:22:22 Strochlitz introduces first witness, Dr. Leon Bass, Buchenwald liberator. 9:22:58 Bass speaks. Joined the army aged 18, put in a segregated unit, because he was Black. Training in the South. April 1945 in Weimar, unprepared for what he found at Buchenwald. He was 19 years old. Not here to dwell on the horrors. But we must tell what happened. We cannot ignore...must use the media...focus attention across the world. But if we want to avoid another Holocaust, then we have a personal responsibility to do something about it.... Quotes James Baldwin, the fire next time. It isn't enough to give money ...if you laugh at ethnic jokes, or turn away from prejudice in order to get ahead. Impassioned plea for involvement and confrontation. If we remain silent, if we pass by on the other side, we are sowing the seeds for another Holocaust. 9:30:40 "Is the price too high?" If you dare to be a Daniel and go into the lion's den... dare to live up to the 10 Commandments or the Koran, you are vulnerable. Applause.

9:31:56 Capt. George Blackburn, Royal Canadian Artillery...liberator of Westerbork in the Netherlands. 9:32:35. Denies being a liberator. No one person, unit, army...could liberate a concentration camp. Sense of inferiority in the presence of those who survived the camps. Westerbork was a collection center for Jews of the Netherlands, not a camp. ... Describes people coming out of the huts... like the whimpering of an ill or frightened animal... arms attempting to touch us, the vehicle, preoccupied with knowing whether the soldiers were real... wouldn't move out of the way. He pulled his pistol to quiet them down, and explained that they had to continue on after the Germans. 'That's all I saw.' Applause

9:39:27 Dr. Michal Chilczuk participated in liberation of Sachsenhausen (Oranienburg), member of the Polish delegation. Emotion on the surface, speaking to those who lived through cataclysm. I come from the country where the Nazis established over 2000 different camps... (names varieties of camps). Some cutaways. Speaks of Polish Army. Speaks of Sachsenhausen. 9:47:44 Cutaway Miles Lerman listening at dais. 9:48:25 Describes the look of those liberated. Eyes.... 9:49:26 Elie Wiesel listening with rapt attention at dais. And again at 9:50:04. Speaks of medical services. 'Bad'...'good'.... Some of you have now filled up the bad with good..... 9:51:30 Separate piles of clothing of men, of women, of children, German orderliness. After Oranienburg and Sachsenberg tragedy, we went west, to the Elbe...met Americans. 9:53:53 Cutaway to shoulder of a uniform and badge 'Jewish Brigade'. Concludes. 9:55:25 Applause, embraced by Elie Wiesel, handshakes with Strochlitz, Miles Lerman. Appreciation on their faces for his passion and eloquence.

9:55:55 Strochlitz introduces next witness, member of the French delegation. Guy Fassina, in charge of repatriation of prisoners from camps after the war. Speaks in French. 10:01:30 speaks of racism, antisemitism....Finishes in English.

10:04:50 Strochlitz introduces Member of the Soviet Delegation: Major General Alexei Kirillovich Gorlinsky, liberator of Theresienstadt. Gorlinsky speaks in Russian. Yaffa Eliach seen in audience.

10:13:57 Strochlitz introduces Colonel Don Hiram, one of the first Israelis to enter Bergen-Belsen, active in transport of Jewish DPs to Mediterranean area, member of the Jewish Brigade. 10:14:40. Colonel Hiram speaks in English.

10:19:24 Strochlitz introduces Dr. Doughlas G. Kelling, participated in the liberation of Dachau, medical officer, member of the American delegation. 10:20:10 Mentions 45 Infantry Division and 42nd Infantry Division. He was a psychiatrist with the 45th Inf. Div. Includes facts, description of physical plant. Clinical description of condition of prisoners.

10:30:02 Introduction of Lt. General William Quinn, participated in liberation of Dachau, medical officer, member of the American delegation. He was intelligence officer for 7th Army during planning of invasion of southern France. Had reports of camps and of atrocities, but nothing in the reports equaled what he saw. Bavaria was eventually a target and goal for liberation. Spontaneous speaker, seemingly without a text. 10:34:02 Cutaway to Romana Primus. When he saw Dachau, he wanted it documented (OSS, CIC, other units brought in).

10:36:36 Introduction of next speaker, Allan Rose, of Canadian Jewish Congress, participated in liberation of Bergen-Belsen. 10:37:10 An unprepared speech. 20 years of age, in British Army, last few days of the war. Breaks off as tape ends.

Event:  10/27/1981
Production:  1981
Washington, DC, United States
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Record last modified: 2023-04-11 10:24:52
This page: