GIs Remember

Alvin Ungerleider - Nordhausen


Alvin Ungerleider entered military service from Carbondale, Pennsylvania, ('the heart of the anthracite coal country." After being commissioned, Lt. Ungerleider was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division in which he served throughout World War II. He was among the first American troops to land at Normandy Beach on D-Day, (June 6, 1944). Except for a two week absence to recover from combat wounds, he was in the thick of the fighting as platoon leader and rifle company commander across France, Belgium and through Germany.

"Although battle hardened, nothing prepared me for what I encountered at Dora-Mittelbau, a subcamp of Nordhausen, early in April, 1945. My orders were to capture part of the industrial complex there. After taking heavy fire from turrets above a barbed wire enclosure, my men and I smashed through the gates, and witnessed the sight of dead bodies and human beings in the worst state of degradation.

I began talking to some of the people in a mixture of Yiddish, English and German and was able to let them know I was Jewish. I asked them to recite the Kaddish prayer with me, which we did. My troops and I shared rations and wine with the survivors.

I've had many nightmares over the years about what happened at Nordhausen."

Colonel Ungerleider stayed in the Army for a full career, serving in Korea and Vietnam, among other places. He ended his service as Commander of Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. He received numerous decorations from the U.S. Army and also from the governments of Korea and Vietnam. Colonel Ungerleider won the "Four Chaplains Award" for his equal opportunity work at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

After his retirement, Colonel Ungerleider served for eight years as a synagogue administrator in Virginia and has been active in Jewish causes.


Source: GIs Remember, (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1994).