GIs Remember

Albert Schwartz - Nordhausen


Albert Schwartz, of El Paso, Texas, enlisted in the Army in 1943, became an officer, and served with the 104th Infantry (Timberwolf) Division in Holland and Germany.

"In April of 1945, as we were advancing through Germany, our division stumbled onto the Dora-Nordhausen Concentration Camp. The camp was pretty much kept secret. After British bombs had almost wiped out rocket operations at Pennemunde, the Germans moved to Nordhausen where V-1 and V-2 rockets were constructed in tunnels under the Harz Mountains.

Although. there had been rumors about concentration camps, which we dismissed as exaggerations, we were stunned by what we found-an absolute abomination. When I got there I just couldn't believe my eyes. I got sick to my stomach because of what I saw and smelled. That traumatic experience is forever imprinted on my memory.

I arrived at the camp in Nordhausen several hours after elements of our Division discovered the indescribably horrible mess. Our troops were trying to separate the dying from the dead scattered everywhere - Russian POWs, deportees from many European countries, some of whom were Jews. Regrettably, we speeded the death of a few of the starving survivors - we gave them food instead of water by the teaspoon.

Our Division medics were there, and later on, units from the Corps. Our medics did everything they could to make the few survivors more comfort, able, but most of them died. We made German civilians help us clean up and bury the victims in mass graves. I was there only a few hours as our Division rolled eastward in pursuit of the retreating Germans.

Many of my friends still don't feel as deeply about being Jewish as I have since this experience. It affected me deeply. Since then I have been very active in Jewish causes.

Several years ago I wrote then Senator Lloyd Bentsen asking him to support the banning of Arthur Rudolph, one of the Nazi scientists at Nordhausen. from reentering the United States."


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