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Oral history interview with John Gidley

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.51.43 | RG Number: RG-50.759.0043

John Gidley discusses his experiences during WWII when, in 1945, he was a 21-year-old Private First Class (Pfc) Medical Corpsman; being assigned to the 56th Medical Battalion which supported various Infantry Divisions as they fought through North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany; acting as company aid man, litter bearer, and ambulance driver as needed; being a company aid man in support of the infantry that liberated the Dachau concentration camp; being very shocked by what they saw; the smell in the camp; seeing up to 5,000 emaciated, male prisoners in striped prison garb with shaven heads, some barefooted, speaking German and Polish as they stood congregated in the yard; how the former inmates were happy to see the Americans; seeing numerous bodies in 80 to 90 box cars in an adjacent rail yard with some still alive among them but too weak to get out; the angered response of the American soldiers and how they marched off a number of German guards to a 10-mile distant POW camp; the furnaces, which were still hot; seeing numerous bodies stacked in warehouses to await burning; the burning of some corpses while others were placed in a mass grave; one well-nourished prisoner collaborator who was killed and thrown in the mass grave; his lack of interaction with the former prisoners; remaining in the camp for only 12 hours; having to move out with his supported infantry unit; returning home after the war; not brooding over what he saw in the camp; showing the pictures he took at Dachau to his friends; and his thoughts on whether something like the Holocaust might occur again.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
John Gidley
Interviewer
Mary Cook
Nita Howton
Date
interview:  1993 October 31
Language
English
Extent
1 sound cassette : analog.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Mary Cook and Nita Howton
 
Record last modified: 2020-07-27 15:22:18
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn80027