GIs Remember

Morris Eisenstein - Dachau


Born in Poland, Morris Eisenstein grew up in Chicago. He served in the 42nd (Rainbow) Division first as a corporal, then as a sergeant in charge of a heavy weapons platoon. He fought in Southern France, Germany, and Austria.

"In April we were ordered to go to Dachau. Something terrible was happening there. We had no idea. When we entered the camp, the first thing we saw was a railroad siding with 36 box cars loaded with bodies in various stages of decomposition, both living and dying. What struck me was the bleakness of everything and the grotesque uniforms of the survivors milling around.

That's when I saw a little Jewish fellow in a comer weeping and wailing. I told him, 'I am an American Jewish soldier! I tried to calm him; I didn't know what to do. I had a pile of money in my pocket captured from the SS two days before, about 15-20,000 marks in a large wad and I handed it to him. He grabbed my hand and said in Yiddish: 'I have nothing to give you but my yellow Jewish star.' I was so overwhelmed I almost cried.... I only hope that somehow he was able to use the money to get to Israel or do something with it.... I never heard from him again. But I still have the yellow star.

How did my comrades feel about what they saw? The truth was, they were more upset than I was. They couldn't believe it. Some of those guys broke down ... there were only about four Jewish fellows in the whole company of two hundred fifty men."

After the war Mr. Eisenstein became active in Jewish causes. He helped send guns to Israel in 1948, served on the Board of Governors of Israel Bonds, and held leadership positions with the Jewish War Veterans.

Morris Eisenstein was awarded two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars for heroism in battle. "I wanted to prove a Jew can fight; that's what motivated me."


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