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Eyewitnesses and War Correspondents at Plenary

Film | RG Number: RG-60.3800 | Film ID: 2642

Continuation of Plenary Session from Film ID 2640 with Alan Rose, then cuts off.

10:46:14 Eyewitness testimony. Rabbi Herschel Schacter, Jewish Army Chaplain in 8th Corps of 3rd Army. Can't fathom enormity of tragedy. 10:47:54 April 11, 1945 learned tanks entered Buchenwald and went there. Dungeon on face of earth. 10:49:14 Photos (crematorium) passed around, delegates listening. Describes what he saw. Never forget scene, no words to describe it. Still smoke from ovens, furnaces were hot, hundreds of dead bodies scattered. He felt inner rage. 10:51:04 Asks lieutenant are there any Jews left in camp? Taken to "little camp." 10:51:26 Delegates listening, crying, wiping eyes. He recalls hundreds of emaciated men, haunted eyes. 10:52:39 He shouted in Yiddish "you are free," they asked "is it over?" He ran through the barracks shouting, Jews followed him. 10:53:37 They asked him "Does the world know what happened to us?" Crying delegates. 10:55:06 20,000 inmates estimated in camp, most political prisoners. 10:57:28 People left to find friends, family. He organized religious ceremonies, handed out prayer books (gave one to Elie Wiesel). 10:59:47 Now here to remember, repeat, keep alive the story. Why were we spared? Agitates his mind and heart, spared for one reason: to deny Hitler victory. "I will not die, I will live." 11:01:20 We must tell the story. 11:01:30 Applause. (p. 35 "Liberation of Camps")

11:02:11 Ephraim Wekselfish, International Chairman of Disabled Jewish Veterans. One of first men to attach victory flag on Berlin Reichstag. Speaks Yiddish and Hebrew with translator, Dr. Gideon Hausner (Eichmann prosecutor).

11:04:05 Fische, in Soviet Army, fought at Stalingrad, joined 1st Division. Fische speaks Yiddish. 11:06:53 Translated - Fische brings greetings from war veterans. 11:08:46 Camera on Elie Wiesel. 11:09:00 Translated - Fische appeals for eternal peace, in Israel, for fighters killed. 11:09:46 Fische holds up book and reads. 11:11:30 Book lists Jewish names in Red Army. 11:12:30 Crying delegates in audience. Talks about Majdenek. 11:14:00 Describes what he saw there "last ounce of energy was squeezed out of them." 11:14:53 Fische finishes. Applause. 11:15:50 Won't continue reading. (p. 38 "Liberation of Camps")

11:16:42 Chairman thanks for testifying. "Do you have to live in the past? No, the past lives in us."

11:19:24 War Correspondents panel. Chairman speaks about the panelists and introduces Fred W. Friendly, war correspondent, witnessed liberation of Mauthausen. After war, executive of CBS News, president of CBS, then Edward R. Murrow Professor of Journalism. Member of US delegation. 11:21:40 Friendly decided not to speak, going to play tape of Murrow's report from Buchenwald in 1945. Best piece of journalism ever done, no pictures but mind's eye is more effective than any TV camera. 11:26:47 How Murrow would introduce the tape: "This is Buchenwald, April eleventh, nineteen hundred and forty-five." 11:27:07 Tape starts (poor sound quality at first). Describes Buchenwald, smiling with their eyes, enters barracks, men want to pick him up but too weak....Silence. (p. 42 "Liberation of Camps")

11:37:53 Boyd Lewis, war correspondent, European news manager for United Press. Responsibility was to assign correspondents to cover liberation. 11:38:37 Silence after Murrow's tape is the greatest applause. 11:40:06 Speaks on credibility. People doubted, after printing reports in papers on camps, that correspondents were giving the true picture. Thought it was overdone, over-emotional. 11:41:30 Communications VIP delegation from USA went to Paris to "put the picture in perspective." Went to camps, by end of week he "looked upon men who had gazed into the jaws of hell." Now they believed. Applause. (p. 45 "Liberation of Camps")

11:43:15 Chairman introduces Col. Curtis Mitchell, media coordinator in war. Now freelance writer, editor, motion picture director. 11:44:17 Heard things that cannot be put into words. 11:46:00 Talks of Murrow and start of liberation. 11:49:11 Talks of how news gets out. Compares what he saw to what has been said today by Mitchell re: Belsen. 11:52:12 Describes making SS guards carry bodies into trucks. Mass graves. He took photo with himself there to help establish credibility. 11:55:27 Describes people: degraded, dehumanized. Men building fires in rooms, using corner of room as toilet (once freed). 11:57:11 People paid the price of imprisonment with their reason, process of thought. No facilities for people until setup DP camps. Describes them. (p. 46 "Liberation of Camps")

Event:  10/27/1981
Production:  1981
Washington, DC, United States
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Record last modified: 2023-11-07 12:19:31
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