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Oral history interview with Gene C. Mallette

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.51.83 | RG Number: RG-50.759.0083

Gene Mallette discusses his experiences during WWII when, in 1945, he was a 20-year-old soldier at the rank of Technician 4 (T-4) (pay scale of Sergeant); being in the National Guard at the time of Pearl Harbor and going overseas to Northern Ireland in January 1942; being assigned to various units including Company K in the 168th Infantry Regiment, Company K in the 133rd Infantry Regiment (during the North African and Italian campaigns), the 34th Signal Company, and the 3151st SIAM (a Signal Information and Monitoring unit) first under the 5th Army in Italy and subsequently under the 7th Army (in support of the invasion of Southern France); traversing combat in Germany near the end of the war, and approaching the Dachau concentration camp; not entering the camp, but seeing the inmates on the streets in striped prison uniforms and looking like skin and bones; seeing mostly men in their 20s as well as some women and some children; the numbers on their arms or wrists; seeing British POWs who had been imprisoned in another nearby camp and were in better shape than other prisoners and were able to listen to the BBC on a secret radio while they were imprisoned; the enraged reaction of his fellow soldiers over what they saw at the camp; hearing how the German Army had treated the Poles, Russians, and others who had been confined in the concentration camp; their incredulity over how some people could be so inhuman to other people and let them starve to death; being hardened by his three and a half years of combat, but still feeling anger about the camps; not being able to converse with the citizenry or the former inmates because he did not speak German; working in a Red Cross photo laboratory for about three weeks, where he copied many concentration camp pictures depicting the dead bodies and the crematorium; writing about his experiences; having some problems adjusting after his war-time service; how his attention span was limited to about one hour in his studies and then he had to move about before he could get back to work; and feeling lucky that he never had nightmares.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Gene C. Mallette
Interviewer
Mary Cook
Nita Howton
Date
interview:  1993 December 04
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: 2020-05-27 12:50:57
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn80868