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Oral history interview with Fred L. Peterson

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.51.100 | RG Number: RG-50.759.0100

Fred Peterson discusses his experiences during WWII when, in 1945, he was a 19-year-old Private First Class assigned to H Company, 222nd Infantry Regiment, 42nd Rainbow Division; going into the Dachau concentration camp with his unit; having never heard of concentration camps before seeing one; entering the camp on a sunny day, early in the morning; the bad smell of the camp which was noticeable as they approached the open gate; seeing some emaciated former prisoners in the yard and as others came out of their barracks, all in striped uniforms and overjoyed in the liberation; seeing men, women, and some children (perhaps six to 13 years old); the terrible shape of the barracks and some prisoners being too weak to come out; the crematorium where there were a 100 naked bodies waiting to go in the ovens; seeing a gas chamber that had never been used; seeing about 15 freight cars, all with dead bodies, except for one man found still alive; the shooting that was going on in the rear of the camp, but not knowing what it was about; hearing that some prisoners had gotten knives and had ventured into the nearby town where they looked for food and took revenge; the shock and anger amongst the men of his units at what they saw; staying in the camp for only one day and being relieved by another Divisional unit as they departed for Munich, Germany; going to the Czechoslovakian border as the war in Europe ended; not having a hard time adjusting to normal life upon returning home after over one year of occupation duty; the two yearly national reunions for his Division and one yearly reunion locally in Ohio which he liked to attend; speaking about their experiences during the reunions; not always being believed when he described the camp to civilians; and his interest in reading books about the Holocaust.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Fred L. Peterson
Interviewer
Mary Cook
Nita Howton
Date
interview:  1994 May 08
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 14:55:26
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn80922