Born in Germany, Willy Herbst was sent to the Paderborn Concentration Camp in 1939 at age 19. The week before Christmas he was marched to a quarry by the Gestapo. He collapsed and could not get up. The Gestapo sent him to a doctor, and then to Hannover where he recuperated. His American immigration papers came through, but he could not leave Germany due to surgery.
After recovery he was ordered back to the camp, but defied orders and did not report. He went straight to his home in Karlsruhe, then to the U.S.
He was inducted into the Army in January 1943, and after training was sent to England with Military Government and then to France. He later served in Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He was assigned to Ulm which was about 30 kilometers from Dachau. He entered Dachau within the first few days after liberation.
"When I arrived, bodies were still lying around; the sight was horrible. Even though I had been in a concentration camp before, I never realized what might have been in store for me.
My job was to help the survivors. I supervised the unloading of a train with all kinds of food supplies and I remained in the area providing assistance to the DPs. I stayed there until the end of December 1945, when I returned home.
My sister and everyone on my father's side were killed at Dachau."
GIs RememberNational Museum of American Jewish Military History