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Oral history interview with John Henry Baker

Oral History | Accession Number: 2001.137.4 | RG Number: RG-50.010.0004

John Henry Baker, Jr., born in 1921 in Georgia, USA, discusses being a student at the beginning of the war; joining the army and being assigned to the 65th Division, 260th Infantry as a Captain; his lack of knowledge about the concentration camps and not remembering the first one he encountered; being part of the front-line troops, and only staying a short time in the camps; being followed by other US forces that would feed and care for the survivors; liberating Ohrdruf camp, which he describes as having large pits for the dead and a terrible odor; the nearby civilians claiming not to know anything about the camp even though it was a quarter of a mile from town and could be seen from there; how the local civilians were made to dig graves and bury the dead from the camp; the survivors of the camp, many of whom seemed not to comprehend what was happening; his group’s focus on active German soldiers, many of whom had already fled the camps; seeing bunkers and dead bodies in the camps; being assigned to the 19th Infantry, Company B in charge of providing security for the SS in prison in Dachau; not interacting with the camp survivors; the violence between the Germans and the survivors; seeing camp Mauthausen, where the survivors were roaming around and the American soldiers had to get them back into the stockades; not being particularly haunted by the experiences; not being interested in politics; the several Jewish soldiers who had stronger feelings than him about the camps; and his opinion that the Germans now regret their actions during the Holocaust.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Captain John H. Baker Jr.
Interviewer
Elizabeth Jacobs
Date
interview:  1980 February 27
Language
English
Extent
1 sound cassette (90 min.).
 
Record last modified: 2020-08-03 10:42:56
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508873