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Forrest J. Robinson photograph collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.278.1

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    The collection consists of five photographs taken by Forrest J. Robinson in Tannenberg, Germany, and Nordhausen concentration camp immediately following liberation and one newspaper clipping regarding the liberation of Nordhausen concentration camp.
    creation:  1945
    Collection Creator
    Forrest J. Robinson Sr.
    Forrest James Robinson was born on September 22, 1922, in Winfield, Kansas, to William J. and Gladys S. Sheldon Robinson. He had four older siblings: Martha, William, Frances, and Doris.

    On December 8, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. Forrest was attending Southwestern College, but left to enlist in the US Army in 1943. He was sent to an Army Specialist training program to study engineering, but the war was not going well and the school was closed because replacements were needed in Europe. Forrest was assigned as a corporal to the Military Police Platoon, 104th Infantry Division, the Timberwolf Division. On July 7, 1944, his unit shipped out for Cherbourg, France, the first unit to land directly in France after D-Day, June 6. Forrest was injured in combat during the Battle of the Bulge, with injuries to his leg and back and the permanent loss of much of his hearing. His unit then advanced into Germany, capturing a great deal of territory an entering Cologne on March 5. Forrest’s platoon followed the infantry as a clean-up unit, charged with establishing order, and duties such as sorting and guarding prisoners and directing traffic. On April 12, 1945, Forrest entered Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp near Nordhausen, the day after infantry troops from his division liberated the camp. He went to the hospital ward with his commanding officer and encountered barracks “jammed full with the dying and the dead.” Below the stairs, bodies were stacked in high piles like cordwood. The stench was horrific and he was sickened and had to leave the building. They eventually counted 5,012 bodies. Forrest was stationed near Tannenburg and then continued to Frankenberg, where he and most of the Division processed surrendered German soldiers. When Germany surrendered on May 7, Forrest was placed on occupational duty in Delitzsch until returning to the US.

    On December 29, 1945, Forrest married his childhood sweetheart Betty Jean Matthews (1922-2010.) The couple had two children. Forrest completed his college education at Oklahoma State University and opened a gift and jewelry store, and later transitioned into factory work. His experiences at Dora-Mittelbau left a profound mark on Forrest and played a significant role in his call to fulltime ministry. He attended Drew University Theological School in the 1950s and became a reverend in the United Methodist Church. He also spoke to hundreds of community groups about the Holocaust and what he witnessed during the war. Forrest, age 89, died on March 1, 2012, in Winfield, Kansas.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged as a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    Dora (Concentration camp)

    Administrative Notes

    The photographs were taken by Forrest J. Robinson while he was serving with the 104th Infantry Division of the First Army of the United States Army. He donated them to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-01 10:20:00
    This page:

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