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Oral history interview with Howard Bowman

Oral History | Accession Number: 2018.238.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0265

Howard Chester Bowman, born on April 2, 1923 in Danzig, Germany, discusses his childhood; his father Howard Arthur Bowman, who was an American consul stationed in Danzig; his mother Alma, who was German; living in several different places as a child, including Saloniki (Greece), Trieste (Italy), Sault Ste. Marie (Canada), Mexicali (Mexico), and Glasgow (Scotland); being raised as an Episcopalian; studying economics at the university in Glasgow; attending Swarthmore in Pennsylvania for three semesters; joining the U.S. Army in November 1942; studying German at Lehigh University for one year under the Army Specialized Training Project; completing basic training at Camp Pickett in Virginia; arriving at Camp Ritchie in Cascade, MD in February 1944 for intelligence training as a “Ritchie Boy”; being a member of Class number 16 with German, Austrian, and Hungarian refugees who were taken to Martinsburg, West Virginia to become immediate U.S. citizens (such as George Lamm, Henry Hecksher, and Peter Van Eyck); studying the manual “German Order of Battle”; reading German maps and army documents; learning how to interrogate prisoners; having instructors who were German and Austrian refugees, such as Ernest Block; living in a barrack; entering as a private and finishing as a lieutenant and as an assistant interrogator in German; being sent to Atlanta, GA and Tennessee to be embedded with German POWs who were Nazi sympathizers (they liked to sing the German song “When Jewish blood spurts from German knives” and labeled the New York Times as a Jewish newspaper because the word “Times” read backwards sounds like Semite); returning to Camp Ritchie to get an assignment in August 1944; sailing on the “Mauretania”; going to France and joining the 20th Armored Division; going through Holland and the Low Countries to Munich, Germany; entering Dachau and seeing the dying inmates and medics helping survivors; staying one day in the camp; bringing one survivor who was a non-Jewish Communist to his apartment and giving him food and clothes; seeing a truck from Gross-Rosen on the side of the road filled with bags of gold teeth, jewelry, and money; seeing a Red Cross truck and taking the doctor who was in the truck to army headquarters to deliver a message to stop bombing buildings in a certain area as they were filled with U.S. soldiers (Howard received the Bronze Star for this action); being close to Jewish IPW (Interrogators of Prisoners of War) team members Ernst Simon, Adolph Warner, Hyman Rosenfeld, Irving Endig, and the team commander Jacob Berger; celebrating V-E Day; transferring to Oberursel, Germany to edit intelligence reports from interrogated German generals as head of the editorial staff; returning to the U.S. in the summer of 1946; being discharged and returning to Swarthmore; graduating then joining the CIA; spending eight years in Berne (Switzerland), seven years in Vienna (Austria), four years in Athens (Greece), 14 years in Germany (Munich, Bonn, and Berlin); retiring but continuing to do contract work for the CIA; being amazed that such a highly civilized country could have done what it did; and how he still thinks about Dachau and his friends whose families did not survive.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Howard Bowman
Gail Schwartz
interview:  2017 November 13
1 digital file : WAV.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:38:40
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