Archive for June, 2009

Americans Came to Liberate, not Conquer:

American Soldiers/ Holocaust Survivors Reunion

Hudson Falls High School, Hudson Falls, New York

September 22-26, 2009

2010 will mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the recent D-Day remembrance ceremonies in Normandy, France, marked the beginning of the commemoration of the liberation of Europe. The signature phrase of the United States World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, is that “Americans Came to Liberate, not Conquer.” Yet during their travails across France, the Low Countries, and into Germany itself, many soldiers wondered aloud about the circumstances that took them so far away from home. The drudgery and boredom of Army routine and regulation, not to mention the months of being shot at or shelled, were all taking their toll. However, it slowly became clear to many what they had been fighting for all along as they encountered the evidence of years of Nazi tyranny. And when our soldiers themselves witnessed the atrocities of the greatest crime committed in the history of the mankind, the Holocaust, all questioning ceased.  Americans had indeed come to liberate.

Three weeks before the end of World War II in Europe, on the morning of Friday, April 13th, 1945, the 30th Infantry Division and attached units were fighting their way eastward in the final drive through central Germany toward the Elbe River. A small task force was formed to investigate a train that had been hastily abandoned by German soldiers near the town of Magdeburg, Germany. The boxcars were filled with Jewish families that had survived the infamous concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen and were now being transported away from the advancing Allies to another death camp location. Scores of children were among the prisoners.

In 2001, as part of a class project collecting the testimony of World War II veterans, Mr. Matthew Rozell, a teacher at Hudson Falls High School, interviewed one of his student’s grandparents, a tank commander who told him this story. This long forgotten event was about to spring to life. Holocaust survivors all over the world who had been children aboard the death train began to find their rescuers’ narratives and even the photographs of the day of their liberation near Magdeburg in 1945 on this oral history website, www.hfcsd.org/ww2, produced by Mr. Rozell and his students.

Mr. Rozell created a second website, www.teachinghistorymatters.wordpress.com, devoted to collecting these testimonies and recording the unfolding organic nature of this reconnection of survivors and liberators.

Now the time has come to celebrate the American soldiers and the Holocaust survivors whose lives were saved by this chance encounter. Soldiers from all over the nation and survivors from all over the world will be coming together to meet each other, in many instances, for the first time since liberation day on April 13th, 1945, at Hudson Falls High School in upstate NY.

What will also make this gathering unique is that the primary focus, besides honoring the soldiers and survivors, will be on education. It will be witnessed by as many as 1500 students and thousands more via a live feed on our school website, and it will be professionally recorded for educational purposes. In addition, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will be participating, and representatives of the Bergen Belsen Memorial in Germany will fly in to participate as well. Major news organizations are expected to cover the event.

As we approach the 65th anniversary of the liberation, it becomes apparent that the power of love has conquered that of evil and is now transcending time and space.  For more information, contact:

American Soldiers/ Holocaust Survivors Reunion Committee

Hudson Falls High School

Hudson Falls, NY 12839



Tuesday, Sept. 22 Wednesday, Sept. 23 Thursday, Sept. 24 Friday, Sept. 25 Saturday, Sept. 26
ArrivalIf you wish, interviews with film crews.

Welcoming Dinner, Hotel

Breakfast in Hudson Falls-Reunion Program, school

Catered Luncheon, school

-Reunion Program, school

Dinner Cruise, Lake George

Breakfast, Hotel-Reunion Program, school

Catered Luncheon, school

-Reunion Program, school

Dinner, Hotel

Breakfast, Hotel-Reunion Program, school

Catered Luncheon, school

-Reunion Program, school

Final Banquet, Hotel


Read Full Post »