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Oral history interview with Leonard B. Johnson

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.51.62 | RG Number: RG-50.759.0062

Leonard Johnson discusses his experiences during WWII when, in 1945, he was a 31-year-old physician; the deployment of his medical unit to Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after its liberation; having no advance knowledge of where he was heading, although he had heard about the existence of concentration camps; the unit’s mission, which was to identify the sick and to arrange for their evacuation to hospitals in the rear, where treatment was to be provided; being a general practitioner, but not being involved in treating any patients within the camp, except for one hernia case suffered by a Russian survivor; the conditions upon their arrival, including his impression that everything appeared to be miserably in disarray where the prisoners were kept; the foul smell in the camp and the thousands of inmates, whom were all skinny for lack of food and many were too sick to leave their bunks, which were layered four on top of each other and were exposed to urine and feces from the higher layers; the survivors, who were all men younger than 60 years old; the survivors’ physical and emotional responses to being cared for; how some survivors were disillusioned and bitter; retaining one shocking image of a flat-bed with stacked naked corpses six to eight feet high awaiting cremation in the adjacent crematorium; people from the surrounding areas coming to see what was inside the camp; not having much conversation with inmates nor visitors because of the language barrier; returning to the United States; the time it took to readjust; getting married; and the effects his wartime experiences had on his practice, including his more balance assessment of the trivial versus the important.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Dr. Leonard B. Johnson
Interviewer
Mary Cook
Nita Howton
Date
interview:  1994 June 11
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: 2020-07-08 14:55:25
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn80114