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GIs Remember - Julius Bernstein - Landsberg

For Julius Bernstein, April 27, 1945, was the day that changed his life. His unit, the 12th Armored Division, was in the vicinity of Landsberg-am-Lech when it encountered what remained of a concentration camp there.

"We arrived a half-hour too late. When we entered the camp we saw what happened.... The camp commander, knowing that the place was completely surrounded and there was no escape, tried to destroy the evidence. There were about 4,000 inmates and they were all locked in their tar paper shack barracks, and hosed down with some flammable liquid. They were cremated alive. I was knee-deep in bodies all afternoon. I think there were twelve who managed to get out.

We did capture two of the guards there and also two of the SS doctors who performed so-called medical experiments on the inmates. We turned them over to the War Crimes Commission. A couple of months later I went to their execution. I watched them hanging in Landsberg prison after they were tried by a military tribunal for crimes against humanity....

As you get older you forget a lot of things, but there's one thing I can't forget: even as I am talking with you now I can smell those bodies burning.... That I'll never forget."

For years, Julius Bernstein has been working with several local residents to have a memorial erected at Landsberg-am-Lech, thus far without success. In 1991, he visited the site with his son and found a gravel pit where the camp had been.

GIs RememberNational Museum of American Jewish Military History