Oral history interview with John Glustrom, Leo Pine, and Dennis Wile
First episode of Witness to the Holocaust: An interview by Dr. Fred Roberts Crawford Director of the Center for Research and Social Change at Emory University with three liberators of Buchenwald: John Glustrom, who was the first to enter the camp in April 1945; Leo Pine; and Dennis Wile. The interview shows video images from the camp shortly after it was liberated.
Second episode of Witness to the Holocaust: An interview with Thomas Spruil and Jesse Lafoon, two witnesses to the liberation of Dachau concentration camp, by Dr. Fred Roberts Crawford and his assistant Jeffrey Hallett, whose father was also a Dachau liberator. The interview shows footage from the liberation of Dachau.
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
- Dennis Wile
- Dr. Fred Roberts Crawford
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 19:52:33
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn513307
Also in United States Holocaust Memorial Council/International Liberators Conference oral history collection
Includes oral history interviews with liberators of concentration camps.
Date: 1981 October
Oral history interview with Reginald Ashby
Reginald Ashby (b. February 12, 1920) discusses how he enlisted and became a member of the 11th Army Division; liberating the Gusen I concentration camp; receiving no information about concentration camps prior to seeing it; having seen prisoners of war, had escaped from camps, a few days before they arrived at Gusen; seeing the camp for the first time as a U.S. Staff Sergeant; meeting former inmates at Mauthausen-Gusen; seeing prisoners in various stages of starvation and dead bodies lying all around; the indifference of the German civilian population as to what was going on in the camps; how his unit did not receive orders on how to deal with the camp; how he coped with his war experience; and what he thinks people should learn from the Holocaust.
Oral history interview with Anton Bild
Anton Bild, born April 1, 1923 in Westbend, Wisconsin, discusses liberating the Dachau concentration camp as a Sergeant of the investigative branch for the Judge Advocate; how he was chosen to investigate Dachau because he knew German; his first impressions of the camp; being given typhoid/typhus shots; his experience interviewing prisoners after liberation; how he coped with the devastation he witnessed in the camp; his beliefs on why the Holocaust should be taught in public schools; his interactions with German civilians after Dachau’s liberation and their lack of knowledge about the camps; a program that brought in German civilians to see the newly liberated camps; his unit’s orders to investigate Russian soldiers’ executions at Dachau; his work investigating war crimes, including his interviews with Nazis at Landsberg prison about the killing of American flyers; and the importance of education to prevent Nazi-like governments in the future.
Oral history interview with Alexander Breuer
Alexander Breuer (b. May 6, 1926) discusses his early life in Austria as an orthodox Jew; changes with the rise of the Nazis; escaping to Slovakia at the age of 12 to be with his grandparents; how his father was taken to Dachau the day after Kristallnacht; the differences between Austrian Jews and German Jews; his father’s release from Dachau; joining his parents in Vienna; immigrating to the United States in January 1940; joining the United States Army; assigned in France to the unit of intelligence reconnaissance; translating for his unit in Weimar; being led to Buchenwald by the mayor of Weimar, who was actually unaware of the conditions there; liberating the Buchenwald concentration camp; guarding captured German prisoners of war; encountering German citizens after the war; meeting children in Buchenwald; sharing his experiences of the Holocaust with his family; and his religious beliefs.
Oral history interview with Michal Chilczuk
Michal Chilczuk discusses his position as a commander in the Polish Army; his participation in the liberation of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in April 1945; the camp’s population; his work in Poland; how his unit tried to help the survivors of Sachsenhausen; being shown around the camp by a female prisoner; going to the Majdanek concentration camp after it was liberated to help the inmates; the local German population near the camp and how they did not help the Polish soldiers; his feelings about the Holocaust; and the education of young people in contemporary Poland.
Oral history interview with Kenneth Colvin
Kenneth Colvin discusses his service as a Corporal in the 515th Medical Clearing Company; going to various camps as they were liberated: giving emergency medical attention, separating the dead from the living, disposing of the dead, and feeding and medicating the living, many of whom were malnourished and had tuberculosis; working as a "surgical technician" despite having no real medical training; helping survivors in a factory in Braunau, Austria; giving plasma to hordes of prisoners, on whom it was hard to find veins; going to Stalag 6 in Hemer, Germany in April 1945; the conditions in the camp; his experiences giving medical assistance to survivors in Mauthausen and several other camps; how his unit stayed for an extended period of time in the Ebensee concentration camp; how he and his unit could only help so long as they stayed emotionally numb; meeting survivors and learning about their lives in the camps, including a Greek inmate who had marched from Auschwitz to Ebensee; the attitudes of the United States soldiers; ways in which he coped with his wartime experiences; spraying all the prisoners from head to toe with DDT to kill lice; how the army unit's food sergeant stole food from the army to give to the prisoners in Braunau; and reasons for sharing his story with his children. The video also includes images from Ebensee.
Oral history interview with John Coulston, Robert Hasin, and Runyon Peterson
John Coulston, Robert Hasin, and Runyon Peterson discuss their participation in the liberation of Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. John Coulston discusses arriving at Ohrdruf as a Captain of the 602nd Battalion, in April 1945; what his unit knew prior to liberating the camp; helping prisoners; and his feelings about Holocaust deniers. Robert Hasin discusses arriving at Ohrdruf as a first Sergeant in the 65th Infantry Division, in April 1945; the camp’s population; showing the local townspeople the camp and the condition of the survivors; helping prisoners; the photos he kept from the war; and his feelings about Holocaust deniers. Runyon Peterson discusses his memories of arriving at Ohrdruf as a Sergeant in 89th Division in April 1945; taking pictures of the place with the railroad track where bodies were put on top of the railroad ties so the Germans could hide them; how he coped with his experiences; his impressions of the townspeople near Ohrdruf; helping prisoners; and his feelings about Holocaust deniers.
Oral history interview with Georges Bonnet
Georges Bonnet discusses his memories of joining the French resistance; witnessing acts of antisemitism; his role in the resistance; fellow members of the resistance; his daily life as a resistance fighter; his knowledge of detention camps in Southern France; acts of sabotage; his arrest and interrogation; his interactions with other prisoners; being transported to Bergen-Belsen; daily life in the camp; becoming ill; his liberation; and how the British tried to help the survivors.
Oral history interview with Edward Doyle, James Levesay, and Gunter Plaut
Father Dr. Edward Doyle (b. June 30, 1907), James Levesay (b. July 16, 1924), and Rabbi Gunter Plaut (b. November 1, 1912) discuss their experiences as liberators of Mauthausen concentration camp; their membership in the 104th Timber Wolf division; burying bodies in the camp; interacting with local townspeople; and their feelings about religion and the “Final Solution,” Nazi Germany’s plan to annihilate the Jewish people.
Oral history interview with Richard Elberfeld
Richard Elberfeld discusses volunteering in May 1943 with the American Field Service, an ambulance unit attached to the British Army; entering Bergen-Belsen for the first time in April 1945; recruiting Germans from the village to clean up the grounds; his responsibility to decide which inmates they should try to save and giving priority to women and children; cleaning inmates; his interaction with child survivors; his knowledge of the camps before he arrived at Bergen-Belsen; coping with memories of his wartime experiences; sharing his experiences with his children; and his views on Holocaust deniers.
Oral history interview with Marie Ellifritz
Marie Ellifritz (b. August 15, 1922) discusses her role as a nurse in the 130th Evacuation Hospital Unit; entering Mauthausen for the first time shortly after liberation; her interactions with survivors that needed medical attention; how they were ill-prepared for these patients; how most of the patients had tuberculosis; the differences between helping concentration camp survivors and working on the battlefield; the difficulty of communicating with patients; her experiences with child survivors; her knowledge of the Holocaust prior to arriving at the camp; how the Holocaust affected her religious beliefs; and the psychological needs of survivors.
Oral history interview with Leon J. Freedman
Leon J. Freedman (b. March 5, 1913) discusses his position as a private in the 76th Division of Company C Second Platoon; discovering Buchenwald and exploring the camp; being asked to go to the camp to attempt to entertain and cheer up the survivors; his interactions with survivors; the large number of female Hungarian survivors; his memories of one small, frail woman who sat down on a battered piano and played beautiful, classical music, and how he and the other soldiers were very affected by this; being transferred and not seeing any other camps; exploring a castle in the countryside, including its elaborate halls and ancient artifacts as well as its pro-Nazi owners; and the importance of teaching future generations about the Holocaust.
Oral history interview with David Gineo and Menashe Hauser
Lt. Colonel David Gineo discusses fighting for the British under the flag of the Jewish brigade; the emblem of Jewish Palestine which brigade members always wore; the brigade’s patches containing the words “chayal” (soldier) and “Chatevvah yehodet lohemet” (Jewish Brigade Group); the October 1944 act passed by the British government establishing the Jewish Brigade; how Captain Menashe Hauser brought the Jewish Brigade flag to the United States from Israel; and his intent to show that many Jews who could, fought back against the Nazis and their collaborators, in contrast to the popular view that most Jews “went to the slaughterhouse” without resistance. Captain Menashe Hauser discusses his pride for the Jewish Brigade flag; his surprise that people would be interested in the Jewish Brigade; his view that the example of the Jewish Brigade can be used to teach all people what it means to be a Jew; and his hope for the future.
Oral history interview with Richard Glazar
Richard Glazar discusses his family life before WWII in Prague, Czech Republic; his work on a farm; his deportation to the Theresienstadt ghetto; his deportation to Treblinka; the arrangement and operation of the camp; learning about the purpose of the camp; the differences between SS and Ukrainian guards; the gold collected at the camp; the Treblinka uprising; hiding in the woods after his escape from Treblinka; his arrest in Poland and time masquerading as a partisan; working at a factory in Mannheim, Germany; making it across U.S. lines; proving that he was Jewish to the U.S. Army; his reunion with his mother; going back to university and getting married; working for a university in Prague, Czech Republic; gaining political asylum in Switzerland; and how the Holocaust affected his religious beliefs.
Oral history interview with Alexei Gorlinsky, Lieutenant Petrenko, and Colonel Kotlyar
Major General Alexei Gorlinsky describes liberating Kraków, Poland and Auschwitz in 1945; the three days of fighting that took place at Auschwitz; the condition of the prisoners; seeing the evidence of the Nazis’ cruelty, such as zyklon gas cans, gas chambers, crematoriums, guns, piles of gold teeth, cases full of eye glasses, and collections of women's hair; visiting a concentration camp in Ukraine; being haunted by his memories of the camps; and meeting one of the inmates, Elie Zbarovsky. Lieutenant Petrenko describes helping to liberate Terezin (Theresienstadt) and several prison camps on Soviet territory; how his memories of the camps are the most difficult recollections to deal with; the atrocities in one camp he went to (possibly in Shepetovka, Ukraine); how the troops did not distinguish between Jews and non-Jews; a “showcase” camp in Poland that dignitaries were marched through and a factory nearby used as a crematorium by the Nazis; and witnessing children being taken from their mothers and thrown into a well. Colonel Kotlyar describes being concerned with finding evidence of crimes committed when they entered the camps; interviewing living victims, who would serve as witnesses at the trials; seeking concrete facts such as the last names of those who died and how they died; how at one of the camps he visited, doctors saved 156 children under the age of 13 and only 84 survived; being present at the Nuremberg Trials and also Dachau; and his memories of one Jewish professor’s testimony of his treatment in a camp.
Oral history interview with John R. Hallowell
John R. Hallowell, born September 27, 1920 in the United States, discusses being a staff sergeant in the 157th Infantry of the 45th Infantry Division during the liberation of Dachau; hearing rumors about concentration camps from fellow soldiers; his arrival at Dachau; seeing boxcars with dead bodies inside; fighting the German guards at Dachau; the condition of the surviving prisoners; the prisoners’ lack of emotions; continuing to Munich, Germany the following day; escorting a Life reporter into the camp; speaking with the inmates; how some of the inmates tried to attack the German prisoners of war; speaking with the German civilians, who declared they had no idea what was happening in the camps; how he has coped with the memories of his wartime experiences; what he believes people can learn from the Holocaust; and how the war affected his religious beliefs.
Oral history interview with William Johnson
William Johnson, born in the United States, discusses landing in Le Havre, France and travelling through Germany; liberating a Yugoslavian slave laborer from a farm near Fulda, Germany as well as a Polish boy; seeing Flossenbürg for the first time; being warned not to give the inmates K-rations; the conditions of the inmates; helping the survivors in the camp; exploring the camp and the aircraft production factories; seeing evidence of the Jewish resistance in the factories; funeral services for the prisoners whom did not survive; how the local Germans were required to dig graves; attending the Nuremburg trials; having a conversation with a defendant, who was ultimately hanged; and his reasons for wanting to sit in on the trials.
Oral history interview with Jurgenson group
Hans Jurgenson, a native of Germany and soldier in the United States Army during WWII, interviews four American men who arrived at Ohrdruf during liberation. The interviewees include Jack Colston, a captain in the 602nd tank destroyer battalion; Bob Hassen, who was part of the 261 Regiment, 65 Infantry Division with the 3rd Army; Victor L Regard, who was part of the War Crimes Investigating Team 6832 at Nuremburg; and Walter Maclassy, a corporal in Company C, 121 Infantry, 8th Infantry Division. The men discuss arriving at Ohrdruf; their hatred for the perpetrators; how they felt after returning home and talking about their experiences; war crimes investigations and trials; their children and their understanding of the Holocaust; and the importance of speaking out about the Holocaust.
Oral history interview with Dix Lathrop
Dix Lathrop discusses the psychological impact of his experience in the liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp as a member of the 11th Army division, C battery of the 492nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion; the camp’s facilities, including the gas chamber and crematorium; the rock quarry adjacent to Mauthausen, where prisoners were forced to work; his assignment as a foreign observer in a task force comprised of armored, infantry, and tank units; seeing several thousand inmates wearing grey and white striped uniforms bearing the word “Juden" on the chest; the physical condition of the inmates; how some prisoners wanted to hug liberators; distributing food rations to prisoners; how solid food caused some prisoners to have convulsions; how many soldiers were repulsed by some of the prisoners and their behavior; his interest in the work of Simon Wiesenthal; how watching the television series “Holocaust” inspired him to talk with his friends about his experiences; his decision to share his story public because he did not want to be overshadowed by neo-Nazi groups who were jeopardizing rights for which he fought; and his belief in the freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
Oral history interview with Edmund Motzko
Edmund Motzko, born on August 17, 1920 in Minnesota, discusses serving as a corporal in the 102nd Infantry Division during WWII; arriving in Gardelegen, Germany with his battalion on April 14, 1945 and finding the 1,016 prisoners who had been massacred; his reaction to this atrocity; his impressions of the SS; being assigned to guard the survivors of the Gardelegen Massacre, including a Hungarian Jew, Bondo Gaza, who was a musician and served as an interpreter for the Americans; how Gaza escaped from the massacre; making the German civilians in Gardelegen see the massacre and retrieve bodies to bury properly; a memorial that was erected in the town for the 102nd Division; the lack of children in Germany; his thoughts on the Holocaust; the absence of the Gardelegen Massacre in newspapers; and being proud to live in the United States.
Oral history interview with Czeslaw Pilichowski
Oral history interview with Arieh Pinchuk, Dan Hiram, and Daniel Dagen
Lieutenant Colonel Arieh Pinchuk, Colonel Dan Hiram, and Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Dagen describe their experiences as Palestinians in the Jewish Brigade; the formation of the Jewish Brigade in 1943; their desires to be recognized as Jews and not as British soldiers; working in the refugee camps after the war, where they provided Hebrew and Jewish community education before sending them to Israel; helping the refugees find family and providing them with food and clothing; their experiences with British officers; encounters with American officers; crossing most of Southern France; the responses of the Germans when they captured them; how the Germans claimed ignorance to the atrocities happening under the Nazi regime; how Hiram was a refugee and was proud to return to Europe with the Jewish Brigade; how Pinchuk was a refugee from Poland; and the importance of the Jewish Brigade.
Oral history interview with Francis Roberts
General Francis Roberts describes participating in the liberation of Niederhagen as a part of the United States 3rd Army; being part of the Southern flank of General Montgomery's group; being unsure of what the camp was or its function before being told to check it out; how he and another officer were the first ones to enter; meeting two Jews dressed in uniforms, who were skilled workers and took them on a tour of the camp; how the SS and most of the inmates had already left; being shown two volumes of records that told the number of casualties; his views on why the German soldiers committed immoral acts; seeing the gas chambers and crematoriums in the camp; slave labor in factories and farms; being in charge of Munich, Germany and keeping watch over SS troops; searching for SS soldiers in a hospital that was run by a priest; how the soldiers tried to determine the nationalities of the prisoners in the camps; and his views on the media.
Oral history interview with Alan Rose
Alan Rose discusses joining the British Army in 1941; serving in the 8th Army and with the United States 22nd Army Brigade; invading Europe on D-Day; participating in the Battle of Caen, the Battle of Falaise-Gap, and the battle of Normandy; seeing Fort Breendonk in Belgium after it had been liberated; being age 21 when he first encountered the Breendonk concentration camp and the torture devices used there; his memories of Bergen-Belsen; his interactions with survivors; German war criminals; the effect of his wartime experiences on his life; how fellow soldiers in his unit were affected by their experiences at Bergen-Belsen; details of the camps during liberation; working for the Canadian Jewish Congress many years after the war; working in Great Britain rehabilitating the camp survivors; also seeing Auschwitz, Sobibór, and Dachau; how Germans denied knowing about the camps; the minimal antisemitism in the British Army; treating the survivors and SS who had lice and typhoid; and the importance of bearing witness to the Holocaust.
Oral history interview with William A. Scott
William A. Scott, born in Atlanta, Georgia, discusses being drafted in 1943 and joining the 183rd Combat Battalion; his family’s newspaper business (Atlanta Daily World); seeing films of the camps and atrocities and how he and his peers did not believe it; his first impressions of Buchenwald; being the photographer for his unit; the photographs he took of the camp; how the survivors beat one SS trooper to death; acts of torture at the camp; his interactions with survivors and the atrocities he saw; his reaction to the camp; being in the second wave of liberators and helping the inmates; a group of prisoners who were in better shape than the others and may have been Russian; his religious beliefs; his experiences with prejudice in the Army and the antisemitism Jewish officers experienced in the Army; how the war changed his view on the struggle for civil rights; going to the Pacific; his response to the U.S. bombing in Japan; comparisons between slavery and the Holocaust; and speaking with his family members and friends about his wartime experiences. Some of the photographs he took at Buchenwald are shown at the end of the recording (minute 35:27).
Oral history interview with Franciszek Skibinski
Franciszek Skibinski, Chief of the Polish delegation at the International Conference of Liberators, discusses being a commander in the armored brigade in the Polish 1st Armored Division with the 2nd Canadian Army Corps; going through Germany and the Netherlands; liberating Polish prisoners of war and concentration camps; finding a group of concentration camps near Papenburg, Germany, which contained Belgian, Jewish, French, and German inmates; seeing the prisoners for the first time; liberating another camp full of Polish girls near the Dutch border; his knowledge of the camps before they were liberated; how he joined the Polish army; his unit’s movements throughout Europe; fighting at the Battle of Normandy; how the Polish girls they liberated were part of the Army Kraova (Armia Krajowa), the underground army which fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1944; what happened to his family during the Holocaust; returning to Poland after the war and his reaction to the conditions; and his lasting memories of the camps.
Oral history interview with Mogens Staffeldt
Mogens Staffeldt, born on May 4, 1915 in Copenhagen, Denmark, discusses his participation in the Danish resistance; printing illegal books and opening his own bookshop in September 1942; how his bookshop became the meeting place of resistance leaders in Denmark; joining the largest sabotage group in Copenhagen called Holger Danske; being tipped off about the deportation of Jews days before it happened and working with his group to get Jews to Sweden; helping over 700 Jews escape to Sweden; their process for these escapes; being arrested with his brother February 16, 1944; spending eight months in jail in Copenhagen; being relocated to Frøslevlejren concentration camp; his brother’s transfer to a camp in Hanover, Germany where he perished; his release from the Frøslevlejren a short time after his brother’s transfer; how his sabotage career consisted of blowing up German-controlled factories and how the missions were collaborations between academic and working class people; the German retaliation for the sabotage; the support he received from his wife; speaking about his experience to school children; his views of Holocaust deniers and the lessons from the Holocaust; and his altruistic outlook on life.
Oral history interview with George Tievsky
George Tievsky, a liberator of Dachau, discusses volunteering to join the U.S. Army in January 1944; serving as a captain of the medical corps attached to the 66th Field Unit Hospital of the 7th Army in Germany in late 1944; being part of a mobile surgical unit that only took the most critically wounded; being sent on May 2, 1945 to Allach, a sub camp of Dachau, due to the typhus epidemic; his reaction to Dachau; the physical condition of the former prisoners; a letter to his future wife describing conditions in the camp and the inmates’ medical problems; emotions he felt as a Jewish doctor treating camp inmates; his attitude at the time towards Germans; the town of Dachau; his views on why the world ignored the Holocaust and what Americans knew before entering Germany; the contents of a lecture he attended by Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter; his views on why the Allies did not take action against the camps; antisemitism in America and the U.S. Army; why he thinks the Holocaust could happen again; and how his experiences at Dachau both haunt him and reinforce his commitment to Judaism.
Oral history interview with Anthony F. Van Velsen
Anthony F. Van Velsen, born in 1917 in Leiden, the Netherlands, discusses being arrested for espionage by Dutch police in 1941 and his subsequent imprisonment in Sachsenhausen concentration camp as a political prisoner; working in the kitchen; being deported to Auschwitz-Buna at the end of 1942; being moved to Birkenau in December 1942; witnessing the selection and gassing of Jews taken to Birkenau; living in the Romani camp; witnessing the gassing of Jews and Romani in Birkenau; planning with the Polish underground to have the gas chambers and crematoria of the camps destroyed; taking photos in the camps as evidence; Rudolf Vrba contacting Catholic church officials about what was happening in the camps; wearing a red badge to signify his status as a political prisoner; working in an underground factory in Mauthausen; being liberated by American soldiers; returning to Holland; spending time in England; immigrating to the United States; joining the military; fighting against Japan; losing his left leg in battle in Indonesia; studying law after his retirement from the military; becoming a lawyer; the effects of his experiences on his life and thinking; his feelings about Germany and Germans; and his hopes and concerns for the future.
Oral history interview with Lewellyn Zullinger and Henry Dejarnet
Lewellyn Zullinger discusses his experiences liberating the Ohrdruf concentration camp in April 1945; being encouraged by military commanders to visit the camp; taking pictures of the camp; how it felt different from when he saw death on the battlefield; seeing no living prisoners and learning that the Nazis had evacuated or shot all living prisoners in anticipation of the Allies’ arrival; witnessing local Germans burying bodies in the camp; and his thoughts on Holocaust denial and the importance of educating the public about the Holocaust. Henry Dejarnet his experiences as a liberator at the Dachau concentration camp; seeing a “death train” where only one prisoner had survived; encountering few SS officers at the camp; being instructed not to fire his gun in the camp and to keep order; being hugged and kissed by prisoners; taking collaborators out of the camp to protect them from prisoners; taking a bath in a cooking vat and staying the night in the SS barracks of the camp; not sharing his story for many years; and his thoughts on Holocaust education and the importance of speaking out. Note: A recording of the interview with Richard Elberfeld begins at minute 25 in part 1. To see the full record for the recording of Elberfeld, search by his name or by RG-50.234*0030.