GIs Remember

Jack Lerner - Dachau


Jack Lerner served as a combat military policeman in the 15th Corps.

"As we advanced past Munich we came to Dachau. I hadn't the slightest idea Dachau was even there. We came to the gate and saw that huge sign, Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes One Free).

When the gates were pushed open by the first men who arrived, some Germans were still there.... Some of the guys of the 42nd Division and our guys gave inmates rifles and they started to work on the Germans, using the rifles as clubs. We stayed there several hours and left.

The last real picture in my mind is inmates using the guns. I guess things were happening so fast, and the scene was so terrible; now it is just a flash.

Afterwards I tried to instill in my children an understanding of what happened, and to give them a certain perspective on Jewish history, past and present. I told my kids there comes a time when you have to stand up and be counted. This experience absolutely strengthened my Jewish identity. I just hope my children never have to go through a period in history such as I did."

 


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