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Large Nazi National War Flag acquired by a US Army concentration camp liberator

Object | Accession Number: 2018.230.2

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    Large Nazi National War Flag acquired by a US Army concentration camp liberator
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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Nazi War banner flown at Ebensee concentration camp in Austria and acquired by Dr. Carl Bordas while he was stationed there from May 9 through July 1945. In July 1944, Carl was drafted into the U.S. military as a private, receiving serial number 33768784. On March 23, 1945 Carl was sent to Europe, where he served as a surgical technician with the 139th Evacuation Hospital in the United States Army Medical Corps. On May 6, the Ebensee concentration camp was liberated by the 80th Infantry Division and the 139th Medical Corps were sent to administer care to the prisoners. Carl arrived at the camp on May 9, and upon entering, he noticed the dead and dying bodies of emaciated men and boys strewn everywhere on the ground. The camp was severely overcrowded with prisoners that had been forced to march away from advancing Allied troops. Carl and the 139th remained at Ebensee for two months to administer care and help the prisoners recover. On June 26, 1946 Carl was discharged from the army and returned home to Pennsylvania. Throughout his life, Carl advocated for Holocaust remembrance and shared information about the atrocities he witnessed at Ebensee.
    Date
    found:  1945 May 09-1945 July
    use:  1943 November 18-1945 May 06
    manufacture:  after 1938 February
    Geography
    use: Ebensee (Concentration camp); Ebensee (Austria)
    acquired: Ebensee (Concentration camp); Ebensee (Austria)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the family of Carl W. Bordas
    Markings
    back, top, on channel, stamped, black ink : [eagle clutching swastika symbol] / M [Reichsadler / Reichszeugmeisterei Imperial Eagle / Quartermaster’s Office]
    back, top, on channel, stamped, black ink : Reichskriegsflg. 2 X 3,35 [Reichskriegsflagge National War Flag 2 meters X 3.35 meters]
    Contributor
    Subject: Carl W. Bordas
    Issuer: Kriegsmarine
    Biography
    Dr. Carl William Bordas (1920-2011) was born in West Decatur, Pennsylvania, to John and Edna Goss Bordas. Carl had eleven siblings. He graduated from Philipsburg High School and attended Penn State College (now Penn State University) where he completed four years of schooling toward his chemistry degree. In July 1944, Carl was drafted into the U.S. military. He entered into the army on July 12 as a private, and received serial number 33768784. On March 23, 1945 Carl was shipped to Europe, where he served as a surgical technician with the 139th Evacuation Hospital in the United States Army Medical Corps.

    On May 6, the Ebensee Concentration Camp, a sub-camp of the Mauthausen concentration camp was liberated by the 80th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. They quickly found the malnourished prisoners were living in squalor and were suffering the effects of years of abuse, starvation, and forced labor. Most of the prisoners were forced to excavate and build a series of giant underground tunnels to house war production facilities safe from Allied bombing. Initially the 30th Field Hospital was administering care to the prisoners but they were relieved by the 139th. Carl arrived at the camp on May 9, and upon entering, he noticed the dead and dying bodies of emaciated men and boys strewn everywhere on the ground. The camp was filthy and severely overcrowded with prisoners that had been force marched by the Germans away from advancing Allied troops. When the soldiers first arrived, they removed dead bodies from the bunks only to discover living prisoners below them, too weak to move. Many of the prisoners had contracted tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Carl and the 139th remained at Ebensee for two months administering care and helping the prisoners recover.

    On December 24, 1945, Carl married Margaret Brown, a member of the Cadet Nurse Corps. On June 26, 1946 Carl was discharged from the army and returned home to Pennsylvania. He returned to Penn State, and earned a Master of Education degree in Secondary Education and his Doctor of Education degree in Administration and Chemistry. Carl worked as a chemist and later, an educator, teaching high school physics and chemistry. He then went on to teach at the collegiate level at Penn State and as a Professor Emeritus at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Throughout his life, Carl frequently shared what he witnessed at Ebensee concentration camp and advocated for Holocaust remembrance.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Identifying Artifacts
    Category
    Flags
    Object Type
    Banners (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Banners.
    Physical Description
    Large, rectangular, plain weave, wool bunting flag with a red field bearing printed black-and-white, second pattern designs. Just left of center is a canted, black swastika in a white circle with a black border, centered on a black Nordic Cross. The cross arms have a border of three alternating stripes, white-black-white, on each side that continue to form the border around the circle. A black Iron Cross is in the canton or top left quadrant. The cross and swastika are bordered by narrow black and white bands. A thick, white, cotton channel with an attached 38-inch rope halyard is sewn along the hoist end. The halyard has a looped top end and a loose bottom length. The channel binds the hoist end tightly, causing that end of the cloth to narrow significantly. On the back of the channel there is a black ink stamp containing German manufacturing information and a Reichsadler with an M stamped below. The fly end is folded over and hemmed with several reinforcing rows of stitching. Along the hoist edge, there are period repairs consisting of several small, rectangular, red cloth patches that may come from the shortened end of the flag. The cloth is stained and soiled overall, with several small holes throughout, especially in the lower left and upper right quadrants.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 75.625 inches (192.088 cm) | Width: 124.750 inches (316.865 cm)
    Materials
    overall : wool, cotton, thread, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Ebensee (Austria)

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The banner was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Linda Nance, on behalf of the family of Carl W. Bordas.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 17:33:33
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn599207

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