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Oral history interview with Marvin Palanker

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.338.48 | RG Number: RG-50.037.0048

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

Marvin Palanker describes joining the US Army in 1943 when he was 18 years old; doing basic training and then being sent to England; participating in the Normandy invasion as member of the 438th Battalion under General Hodges; operating a 40-mm gun and a half track machine gun (he shows a picture of himself with the gun and a friend); advancing into Germany at Aachen; having a Jewish service, during which there was some shelling; hearing rumors about the concentration camps but could not believe them; advancing so rapidly until December that they ran out of supplies and had to retract; retreating after the Battle of the Bulge and regrouping; advancing again through Germany to Cologne; reaching the camp Nordhausen without resistance in the middle of April; finding bombed out barracks and about 2400 bodies of people who had been shot just before they arrived and how only one person was still alive; the town’s people denying any knowledge about the camp; how seeing the camp was the most horrible experience of the entire war (he shows pictures from the camp); proceeding on and encountering the Russians several days later; his unit staying in Grimma, Germany, where he found groups of Czech and Polish women who had been forced to walk between the American and Russian fronts (he shows a picture of a group of Polish girls); being the only Jew in his unit and speaking a little Yiddish tried to communicate with the Czech and Polish women; two of the women asking him to write to their cousin in Buffalo, NY, whom he happened to know from school; the two women eventually moving to the US; expecting to be shipped to the Pacific but the war ending and returning home; and catching polio later and being confined to a wheelchair.

Interviewee
Marvin Palanker
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:51:27
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn511811