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May 15, 1987 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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The 15-foot bronze "Liberation" statue in Liberty Park, N.Y.

A Concentration Camp Liberator
Learned Lesson Of The Holocaust

WALTER ADAMS

Forty-two years ago, as the tanks of
the U.S. 11th Armored Division rolled
into Mauthhausen, a German concentra-
tion camp about ten miles outside of the
Austrian city of Linz, we came upon an
inferno that would forever leave us with
an indelible vision of man's cruelty and
an ineradicable smell of putrefying corp-
ses. We found piles of unburied bodies
emaciated into bony skeletons. We found
animal-like creatures — caricatures of
human beings once resembling the image
of their divine creator — lying helplessly
on filthy, lice-infested sacks of straw, on
wooden bunks, amidst the stench and dis-
ease of their urine and excrement.
We found the half-crazed, starved
remnants of one of the notorious extermi-
nation camps of Nazi Germany, designed
not only for the liquidation of European
Jewry but for the elimination of Russians,
Poles, Yugoslays, Gypsies — anyone
whom the Nazi state arbitrarily defined

Walter Adams is distinguished university
professor and past president of Michigan State
University. During World War II, he served as
a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and
participated in the liberation of three Nazi
concentration camps.

as sub-human. We found captives from
practically every conquered nation of
Western Europe.
Battle-hardened veterans, who had
fought their way from the Ardennes
through southern Germany into Austria,
and who thought that they had experi-
enced all the cruelty and misery of mod-
em total war, were unprepared for what
they found at Mauthhausen. Some av-
erted their eyes in horror; others sobbed
silently and uncontrollably; others, in
sheer frustration, shook their fists to the
unresponsive heavens. This was the quin-
tessence of man's inhumanity to man.
This, as some of us were to learn later,
was the sort of crime that was — and only
could be — perpetrated by
pathologically-criminal individuals with
the sanction of criminally bestial laws
promulgated by a criminal state. -
At Bergen-Belsen — the camp
President Reagan visited last year —
British troops witnessed the same scene.
On April 24, 1945, Patrick Gordon-
Walker, an Oxford University historian,
who was with the British troops on libera-
tion day, broadcast the following report
over the BBC: "Corpses in every state of
decay were lying around, piled up on top

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Continued on Page 34

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