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Oral history interview with Sidney Cole

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.338.8 | RG Number: RG-50.037.0008

Sidney Cole, born in New York, NY in 1914, describes enlisting in 1940 and wanting to become a pilot; going to Canada, where he passed and became a flight officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force; returning to the US after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and volunteering for the glides pilot training but not liking it because he was so used to engine noise; graduating in 1942; becoming an instructor for the liaison pilot, whose job is to observe artillery fire from the air; undergoing field artillery training; volunteering for overseas duty and beginning combat flying in the middle of 1944; being in the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-1945; missions lasting only a few minutes and he thus accumulated 126 missions; his last mission in January 1945 when his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he lost all engine power; his observing bailing out and landing inside the Allied lines; landing inside the German line; bleeding and experiencing unconsciousness intermittently; throwing his dog tags away since they identified him as a Jew; being picked up by a retreating German tank and handed over to a group of Hitler youth, who mistreated him; being locked up in a damp cellar for several days and then taken to a Red Cross tent by truck and subsequently transported to several camps; being seen by a British prisoner of war who was a physician and removed some shrapnel and administered a tetanus shot; ending up in Stalag IV F, where he got a non-removable German dog tag as a prisoner of war (he shows a photograph of the tag); passing as a protestant; the Swiss Red Cross visiting; his weight dropping 50 pounds in five months; being liberated by the Russians in May 1945; being treated well and staying for several months; going to a former concentration camp and encountering the malnourished former inmates; seeing thousands of bodies in a ditch and being very affected by his experiences; being sent to Paris, France for interrogation and then to a camp in France to recuperate; being released from the service in 1946 (he shows his prisoner-of-war medal and several other war decorations including a caterpillar pin which indicates that he was saved by a parachute); how he does not like to talk about his experiences but wants to help keep the memory of the Holocaust alive; and the importance of not letting the something like the Holocaust happen again.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Sidney Cole
Mrs. Toby Back
interview:  1990 July
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2020-08-03 11:26:22
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