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Oral history interview with Arthur F. Peternel

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.8.24 | RG Number: RG-50.063.0024

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Arthur Peternel, born in 1915, describes his Yugoslavian parents and nine siblings; being raised Roman Catholic; his father’s involvement with the coal miner’s union and the local government; attending public school in Wilcox, PA; being 24 when the war started and joining the army; being assigned duties with a construction battalion; being transferred to the Air Force as a construction engineer; designing and constructing airfields; volunteering in the ground force as a combat engineer; going to basic training in Louisiana, Air Force training in Santa Rosa and March Field, CA, and officers candidate school at Fort Belvoir, VA; getting information from the radio and newspapers; how his first cousins in Slovenia were executed for resisting the Nazis; landing in Europe in 1943; his unit’s daring activity in Cassino, Italy, which won them a presidential citation; his role as a combat engineer, serving the 5th and 7th Army; receiving amphibious invasion training south of Naples; being in charge of underwater demolition; the route the 7th Army took through France; landing in Saint-Raphaël, France, where they encountered resistance; arriving in Germany during the winter of 1944-1945; the Jewish sergeants in his unit and the Holocaust experiences of their family in Europe; coming across Dachau a day after it was liberated; photographs he has from when he entered the camp (he shows this images during the recording); conditions in the camp; seeing the prison guards who had been killed by the inmates; the crematorium; seeing piles of bodies and clothing as well as urns of ashes; speaking with a local German girl who thought the camp was for prisoners-of-war; his shock and horror at the concentration camp; and his view of the role of the U.S. in the world.

Interviewee
Arthur F. Peternel
Date
1989 September 14  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:46:34
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508047