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Veterans Day: Hudson Falls teacher’s stories unite veterans with survivors

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications

veterans day

Caption: Photo of Matt Rozell by Andrew Watson.

History teacher Matt Rozell knows where he will be on Veterans Day. He’ll be in same place he is every year: working with students to help veterans. This year, he and 28 of his Hudson Falls high school students will be out raking leaves and doing yard work at the homes of veterans.

In his world, the one he shares with students, veterans are held in the highest regard.

“These soldiers, and what they’ve gone through for our country…” he said, trailing off. Rozell, a member of the Hudson Falls Teachers Association, was standing in the school entryway in front of a new display called The Veterans Wall. It is filled with photographs and stories of veterans from World War II through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their mission was protection. Rozell’s mission has been to make sure students know what that protection cost and what it preserved. In a metal filing cabinet in Rozell’s living history classroom there are 200 written student interviews with World War II veterans. Each folder includes the interview, positions papers, fact checks, photographs, letters and other primary sources.

[Hudson Falls Teachers Association member Matt Rozell on the history of Veterans Day and keeping history alive through the “power of the narrative story.”]

That’s 200 stories now documented; important pieces of history, of personal lives that intersected and collided with the deadliest war in history. These veterans became part of the Allies Forces in a brutal war from 1939 to 1945 – a war involving most nations of the world, the Holocaust, nuclear bombing, and sobering losses. According to the World War II Museum, there were 15 million combat deaths; 25 million wounded; and 45 million civilian deaths.

The front wall of Rozell’s classroom is covered with the front pages of actual newspapers chronicling stages of the war as it stormed across the world: “France Joins Britain in War on Germany;” “Roosevelt is Dead; Truman Sworn In;” “Germans Take Oslo: Sweden Gets Warning;” “Reich Scraps Versailles Pact.”

But it is on the last wall where the stories uncovered by Rozell and his students are the most personal. Here, there is a map of the world. In certain sections, it is dense with colored pushpins that students insert for tracking survivors.

The pins represent people: Jewish people who were rescued by American soldiers in Germany on a train from Bergen Belsen concentration camp, destined to be killed at the end of the war. The pins also represent the soldiers who saved them and the soldiers’ families.

“There were 2,500 Jews inside,” said the soft-spoken Rozell, whose blue eyes fill with tears telling the story. Some were already dead; all were emaciated. It was April 13, 1945. They were covered with lice. Some had typhus.

“It was at the point in the war when everything was collapsing under the Third Reich,” Rozell said. “Their final order was to murder everyone on the train.” German soldiers were to drive the train onto a bridge and blow up the bridge. But first, they ordered the men and boys off the train.

“They were going to machine gun them,” Rozell said.

Then the Americans, en route to a nearby battle, crested the hill in their tanks. They stayed 24 hours to guard the train, and then other soldiers came in to help transport the survivors.

In the last 10 years, 275 rescuers and survivors have been reunited through Rozell, the web site he created,https://teachinghistorymatters.com/tag/matthew-rozell/, and veteran Frank Towers, now 97. Towers was a soldier with the 30th Infantry Division who was charged with relocating the train survivors to a safe place for medical care and treatment the day after the rescue.

“His job was to move people out of harm’s way. He had trucks. It took all day,” Rozell said.

Towers, 97 has now met children of those train survivors, “people who would not exist if Americans hadn’t liberated the train,” Rozell said.

Rozell’s  determination to have his students experience the meaning of the closing days of WWII drew the attention not only of families and survivors, but also of the media. He and his students have been featured on NBC Learn as part of “Lessons of the Holocaust” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koQCU9Rhys0.

In September 2009 ABC World News with Diane Sawyer named them as “Persons of the Week.”

Rozell also works with the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

His story of action in the classroom began years ago when he had students first start interviewing veterans and videotaping them. Then they would transcribe them and type them up.  “This was before the internet,” he said.

In the mid 90s he began putting the stories online.  Rozell also conducted interviews, and one of them was with the grandfather of one of his students, a WWII veteran. He set up a video camera and the pair talked for two hours. A retired state Supreme Court justice, Carrol Walsh had been in combat in a tank.

“He hated it. Once he was trapped for three days,” Rozell said.

As the interview was winding down, Rozell recalls, Judge Walsh’s daughter stepped in and said “Did you tell him about the train?”

Walsh was one the soldiers who came across the train full of imprisoned Jewish people as they were driving their tanks. He told Rozell how they found the people on the train and scared off the German soldiers guarding it.

liberation

Next, Walsh directed Rozell to George Gross, a fellow tank commander who had taken photographs that day from the tank. More recently, Gross had written a narrative about his part in the liberation of the train.

Rozell eventually interviewed him by speakerphone in a class interview.

Rozell posted the transcripts of the interviews with Walsh and Gross – now deceased – on the school web site under a WWII history project.

The site got hits, but it more or less languished for about four years.

Then the trickle started. A grandmother from Australia who had been a little girl on the train contacted Rozell. Then a doctor in London, a scientist in Brooklyn and a retired airline executive in New Jersey found him through his site. They were all survivors from the train.

Rozell decided to host a reunion for them in 2007 at the school, and of course Walsh was invited.

“Judge Walsh – the only soldier there – met them with a laugh, and said ‘Long time, no see!'” Rozell recalls.

The Associated Press picked up the story about the reunion, and the school’s web site got so many hits it crashed the system. Rozell heard from 60 more people who were on that train.


The AP story is how veteran Frank Towers found out about the story. He contacted Rozell and they worked together. Since then there have been over 10 reunions – three of them in Hudson Falls,one in Israel, and many organized by Towers. Besides Israel and New York, they’ve been held in North and South Carolina  Tennessee, and Florida. With the help of survivors daughter Varda Weisskopf in Israel, they have brought survivors and their descendants together with American soldiers and their descendants. Their homes are now in places such as Great Britain, Canada, Israel, America, and Australia.

In 2011, Rozell and his son were given a gift of attending one of the reunions in Israel. There, he met 65 people who were on the train.

“The survivors [and soldiers] chipped in and bought a ticket for me and my son,” he said, still awestruck about the event three years later. “I’ve never been in the Middle East.”

NBC News recently heralded Towers’ quest to reunite survivors in http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/ann-curry-reports/children-from-death-train-reunited-346382403757.

In the video, a young girl cries, trying to express how much it means to her to meet the man who liberated her grandfather on the train.

Rozell, a graduate of SUNY Geneseo, is in his 29th year of teaching history. He says his journey is about “the power of teaching.”

“We can use the power of history to get kids involved, engaged and more empowered themselves,” he said.

The Washington County Historical Society has published some of the student stories in the file cabinet, giving both students and veterans, a voice.

http://www.nysut.org/news/2014/november/veterans-day-using-the-power-of-story-to-make-history-come-alive-for-hudson-falls-students

Thanks, Liza, Andrew and Leslie for visiting our school and seeing the power for yourselves.

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Carrol S Walsh Jr. At rest in Johnstown, NY. Photo by Elizabeth Connolly.

Carrol S Walsh Jr. At rest in Johnstown, NY. Photo by Elizabeth Connolly.

Thirteen summers ago, I sat down for an interview with an amazing man. What he would relate to me, and what I would do with it, would go on to change both of our lives.  A seemingly small incident would be recalled almost as an aside in the wider context of World War II, but then would go on to reverberate through time, and space, creating ripples in the cosmos that grew into waves. Big waves that would carry me, and many others, to places we had never thought possible.

You see, on Friday, April 13th, 1945, twenty-five hundred lives were saved as advance elements of the U.S. Army 743rd Tank Battalion, 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, and  30th Infantry Division stumbled across the crime of the century, perhaps of all time.

A train transport stopped at a railroad siding. Open boxcars, sealed boxcars, shabby passenger cars, engine. Some people wandering about, others too ill to move. Sick and emaciated human beings.  Women. Men. Children. SS bands roaming the countryside. Orders to execute. A bridge over the River Elbe ahead to be blown to smithereens. With the transport, and the people on it.

The soldiers told me their stories.  In the course of collecting their narratives, we found others who played their parts and rescued those people.

I listened. We wrote. We recorded, and I posted. Then, the wires began tripping. Seven Septembers ago, we put together the first of many reunions between these soldiers and the child survivors of the Holocaust they rescued.

“Joyful” does not do it justice. What do you say to the men who saved you and your family when you were a child?

Carrol smiles, grips their arms in greeting, and laughs, “Long time, no see!” Sixty-two years, that’s all. On April 13th, 1945, the war weary, “seen-it-all” twenty-four year old second lieutenant is in for the shock of his life.

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Five years ago this week, we put on quite a show at our high school.  High school kids listening to, meeting, sharing, laughing, crying, even dancing  with octogenarian U.S. soldiers and Holocaust survivors. ABC World News called my classroom and told me they were on their way up from NYC headquarters to film us. You can see Carrol, and listen to fellow tank commander George Gross’ narrative from our interviews, and hear fellow soldier Frank Towers describe his role in the liberation.

The last evening together, soldiers and survivors from all over the world watched the broadcast together, and we said our prayer of thanksgiving. Hundreds of students became the witnesses for the generations to come.

And so it comes full circle. Nearly ten percent of the passenger list has been found, over 60 years later. Profound things keep happening.

***************************************************

We lost Carrol less than two years ago, George earlier. So I write this week to remember, and remind myself of what a legacy, and gift, they left us. While it may have been a tiny part of  very productive lives (a New York State Supreme Court justice, and English literature professor, respectively), for the rest of my days I will think of the times I got to talk to them, and smile.

And think about their own words: “What are we going to do with all these people?”

Indeed. Just look at the generations that sprang forth, because of what our soldiers stopped to do, in a shooting war. In complex, fluid situations, there are no easy answers, but don’t you think that there is a very important lesson here?

It was not part of the mission. But maybe as a society we should break down and examine the values that made the mission change, if even as a “sideline”.

Sometimes it just feels good to feel proud.

But temper pride with the wisdom of the retired New York State Supreme Court justice:

“No.

They don’t owe us anything. Not a thing.

We owe them~

For what the world allowed to happen to them.”

 

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NBC Video about liberator Frank Towers, based on our project here at this website, and what has driven Frank since we met up in 2007.
Godspeed survivors, family members, soldier liberators.  Keep going, Frank.
Remember.
Children from Death Train Reunited
The emotional reunion of a former American soldier and the Jewish children he helped save from the Holocaust 70 years ago. Link below:
OR

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Meet my friend Frank. He’s 97. The story continues…. from the Boston Globe.

WW2 liberator reunites with Holocaust survivors

By Victoria Bedford
| Globe Correspondent   October 12, 2014

“If not now, when?’’ asked Rabbi Joel Sisenwine, quoting from Hillel the Elder, a revered Jewish leader who lived at the time of King Herod. “If not me, who?”

It was Oct. 4, Yom Kippur, and Sisenwine stood before the congregation at Wellesley’s Temple Beth Elohim, introducing a very special visitor.

As Frank Towers walked up to speak, the teary-eyed congregation of 1,500 rose to give him a standing ovation.

Towers never considered himself special. Now 97, the South Boston native is living in Florida, where he spent most of his adult life as an office manager at a university data processing center. But in the early spring of 1945, in Farsleben, Germany, he was among a group of soldiers who liberated thousands of Nazi prisoners.

The rabbi invited two of those survivors, and their families, to step forward and stand beside Towers.

Yvette Namias, 92, of Peabody, did so. She was 22 in 1945 and long a prisoner at the notorious Bergen Belsen death camp before the liberation. She had never met Towers. Her family — children, grandchildren — stood around her.

Namias was joined by Charles Elbaum of Providence, a 17-year-old prisoner at the time of liberation, now surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

“Well,” Towers said to Namias after the ceremony, “I’ve spent a long time chasing you around the world.”

“He’s responsible for my family,” said Namias. “Without him, my family would not be here.”

Nothing in his life had prepared Towers for what he came upon on April 14, 1945. He was a young lieutenant in the 30th Infantry Division, a unit of the US Army National Guard, heading for Magdeburg, Germany, to fight one last major battle. In the town of Farsleben, they encountered a train that had been seized by the Army’s 743d Tank Battalion the day before. Towers was told it held 2,500 Jewish prisoners, and he was responsible for taking them to safety.

“What if you find a train loaded with Jews, what are you going to do? Nothing was ever said about anything like that.” Towers said. “If you come across a camp, like Dachau or Buchenwald, what are you going to do? We didn’t know anything about that situation.”

But the lieutenant found himself faced with a train full of death camp prisoners, 60 to 70 men, women, and children crammed into each train car, forced to stand until they collapsed from exhaustion, with a daily ration of thin potato soup, and one bucket for a bathroom. They were starved, sick, overworked, and in desperate need of medical assistance, which Towers and his men were wholly unprepared to provide.

Still, Towers and his men sprang into action, rounding up as much transportation as they could, and took the prisoners to the town of Hillersleben. There, a Red Cross unit processed the thousands of Jewish prisoners, gave them showers, provided clean clothes and dusted them with DDT, now a prohibited carcinogen, to kill lice and fleas.

Knowing that he was leaving the prisoners in good hands, Towers went on to fight a last battle, and returned to the States later in 1945. Soon, he started a family with his wife, Mary. Like many who lived through the war, he put his experiences in the rearview mirror for years, never talking much about what he had seen of the Holocaust.

“But I could tell it was eating him inside,” Mary said. “I knew that.”

Towers said his focus was just to move on. “Not much thought was given to the victims,” Towers said. “They were starting out on a new life somewhere.”

That all changed for him in 2005, when he was invited back to Magdeburg to speak about what happened 60 years before. There, he met Ernest Kahn, a survivor of Buchenwald who had been liberated by Towers’ division (“It was very emotional,’’ said Towers), and Kahn put him in touch with Matt Rozell, a high school teacher from Hudson Falls, N.Y., who was assembling an online archive of stories from the war. The two began working together to locate survivors from the train in Farsleben.

“The thing just snowballed,” Towers said. “Today we have located 275 of these children.”

Like Towers, Charles Elbaum, who was a 17-year-old prisoner when rescued from the train, rarely spoke about the Holocaust to his family. After his liberation, he went on to become a physics professor at Brown University, a husband, a father to three sons, and a grandfather to eight children. His son Dan, of Newton, and grandson Nathan met Towers at a reunion, and invited him to speak before the congregation at Temple Beth Elohim.

“Without what they did,” Dan Elbaum said, “I wouldn’t be here. Frank is the last known surviving veteran who was actually present at the liberation of the train.”

For Towers, who now travels around the world to tell his story, preserving the memory is the most important aspect of these talks.

“Dan and his family, and others just like him, he’s second-generation,” Towers said. “Many of them knew nothing about the incarceration of their parents. This second generation is entitled to know what happened, and how it happened, so that they in turn can pass it on to their children, and this will never happen again. That’s the hope in all of us.”

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/west/2014/10/11/liberator-reunites-with-holocaust-survivors/FGUj2uW2crSYIiQIUbdbWM/story.html

 

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Numbers dwindling, WWII veterans continue poignant reunions, renewing bonds forged in battle

Article by: DAN SEWELL , Associated Press
NOTE: I was reading this article in my hometown paper yesterday. Frank Towers is mentioned halfway in. Then I remembered some time ago the AP contacted me looking for info on WW2 reunions, and I gave them Frank’s contact info. So yes this is another cut and paste update, but I did have something to do with the article! That’s 1st Lt. Frank Towers- the guy charged with shuffling dazed Holocaust survivors to food and shelter, April, 1945…. He’s 96, planning another reunion in Savannah in Feb. I’ve been to his last 6 reunions. There is nothing like getting up at 6am for breakfast with a table of these guys.

DAYTON, Ohio — Paul Young rarely talked about his service during World War II — about the B-25 bomber he piloted, about his 57 missions, about the dangers he faced or the fears he overcame.

“Some things you just don’t talk about,” he said.

But Susan Frymier had a hunch that if she could journey from Fort Wayne, Ind., with her 92-year-old dad for a reunion of his comrades in the 57th Bomb wing, he would open up.

She was right: On a private tour at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, amid fellow veterans of flights over southern Europe and Germany, Young rattled off vivid details of his plane, crewmates, training and some of his most harrowing missions.

“Dad, you can’t remember what you ate yesterday, but you remember everything about World War II,” his daughter said, beaming.

When Young came home from the war, more than 70 years ago, there were 16 million veterans like him — young soldiers, sailors and Marines who returned to work, raise families, build lives. Over the decades, children grew up, married, had children of their own; careers were built and faded into retirement; love affairs followed the path from the altar to the homestead and often, sadly, to the graveyard.

Through it all, the veterans would occasionally get together to remember the greatest formative experience of their lives. But as the years wore on, there were fewer and fewer of them. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, just a little over 1 million remain. The ones who remain are in their 80s and 90s, and many are infirm or fragile.

So the reunions, when they are held, are more sparsely attended — yearly reminders of the passing of the Greatest Generation.

—When veterans of the Battle of the Bulge gathered in Kansas City this summer, only 40 came, according to organizers, down from 63 last year and 350 in 2004.

—Of the 80 members of Doolittle’s Raiders who set out on their daring attack on Japan in 1942, 73 survived. Seventy-one years later, only four remain; they decided this year’s April reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., would be their last, though they met Saturday for a final toast in honor of those who have gone before them.

—A half-century ago, when retired Army First Lt. Frank Towers went to his first reunion of the 30th Infantry Division — soldiers who landed at the beaches of Normandy and fought across France and Germany — he was surrounded by 1,000 other veterans.

“Now if I get 50, I’m lucky,” said Towers, who is working on plans for a reunion next February in Savannah, Ga. “Age has taken its toll on us. A lot of our members have passed away, and many of them who are left are in health situations where they can’t travel.”

So why persist?

“It’s a matter of camaraderie,” Towers said. “We spent basically a year or more together through hell or high water. We became a band of brothers. We can relate to each other in ways we can’t relate to (anyone else). You weren’t there. These guys were there. They know the horrors we went through.”

___

As many as 11,000 people served in the 57th Bomb Wing that flew missions over German-held Europe from North Africa and the island of Corsica during most of the war. Hundreds survive, according to wing historians and reunion organizers. Only nine veterans made it to this fall’s event.

George Williams, 90, recalled earlier reunions with his comrades, “having a great time yukking it up and talking about things.” No one else from his squadron came to this one.

“All of a sudden, it’s lonesome,” said Williams, a native of Visalia, Calif., who moved after his wife’s death to Springfield, Mo., where his son lives. “All of the people you ran around with are on the wrong side of the grass. You wonder why you’re so lucky.”

But in a Holiday Inn hospitality suite with patriotic bunting, bowls of pretzels and chips with soft drinks at their tables, the stories flowed easily.

Williams remembered the tension of his first mission, his hand ready at the tag that would release him to bail out if necessary. It went without incident, and upon their return to base, a flight surgeon measured out two ounces of whiskey for each crewman. “Sixty-nine to go,” he said then, because 70 missions was considered the tour of duty. Sometimes on later missions, he would pour the two ounces into a beer bottle to save up for a night when he needed numbing.

Robert Crouse, of Clinton, Tenn., is 89 years old, but he remembers as if it happened yesterday the time a shell blew out the cockpit windshield (“you could stick your head through it”), disabling much of the control panel. Another plane escorted the bomber, its pilot calling out altitude and air speed as Crouse’s plane limped back to base, riddled with holes.

Young recalled flying a damaged plane back to base, hearing his tail gunner’s panicked yells as Plexiglass shattered over him. “You could feel the plane vibrate; you fly through the smoke, you smell the smoke and you hear the flak hitting the plane like hail on a tin roof.”

Not all the memories are bad ones. There was the late-war mission when they hit a spaghetti factory instead of the intended target (“Spaghetti was flying everywhere,” recalled Crouse, chuckling). There was Williams’ first Thanksgiving meal overseas: a Spam turkey, spiced and baked to perfection by an innovative cook.

“I still love Spam,” he said.

Then there was R&R in Rome, hosted by the Red Cross. Young men not long removed from high school toured the Colosseum and other historic sites they had read about. They visited the Vatican; some met Pope Pius XII. Williams got a papal blessing of a rosary for his engineer’s fiancee.

“It was pretty good,” Williams said of his war experience, “except when they were shooting at us.”

___

Some of the veterans fear that their service will be forgotten after they are gone. Crouse and others have written memoirs, and many of the reunion groups now have websites, magazines and other publications in which they recount their stories.

“You just hope that the young people appreciate it,” said Young. “That it was very important, if you wanted to continue the freedom that we have.”

Their children remember. Some are joining them at the reunions; others keep coming after their fathers are gone.

At this year’s reunion, Bob Marino led a memorial service and read the names of 42 members of the 57th Bomb Wing who died in the past year. A bugler played “Taps.”

Marino, 72, a retired IRS attorney and Air Force veteran from Basking Ridge, N.J., helped organize the gathering. His Brooklyn-native father, Capt. Benjamin Marino, died in 1967 and left numerous photos from the war, and Marino set about trying to identify and organize them. To learn more about his father’s experiences, he corresponded with other veterans — including Joseph Heller, who was inspired by his wartime experiences with the 57th to write his classic novel “Catch-22.”

“He never talked about any of this,” Marino said, turning the pages on a massive scrapbook as veterans dropped by to look at the photos. “Once in a while, something came out. I wish I had sat down and talked to him about it.”

This was precisely the gift Susan Frymier received at the reunion in Dayton.

She watched as the father who had long avoided talking about the war proudly pulled from his wallet a well-worn, black-and-white snapshot of the plane he piloted, nicknamed “Heaven Can Wait” with a scantily clad, shapely female painted near the cockpit.

She listened as he described German anti-aircraft artillery fire zeroing in on his plane. “I had to get out of there. All the flak … they were awfully close.” He described “red-lining” a landing, running the engines beyond safe speed. His voice suddenly choked.

“Oh, Dad!” said his daughter, and she hugged him tightly.

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guns at last lightI’m recovering from a foot injury and it has given me time to finish Rick Atkinson’s latest release, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 in his Liberation Trilogy. With school around the corner, I am excited to be teaching a couple dozen seniors once again about World War II, and in the springtime, the Holocaust.

I’m happy with Mr. Atkinson’s coverage of the heroics of the 30th Infantry Division-he even made a research pilgrimage to Hill 314 in Mortain, where elements of the 30th held off against a Hitler-ordered panzer counterattack for 6 days, saving the Allied breakout in Normandy in August 1944. 

If you are a follower of this site, you will know that that division is dear to my heart, not because of any blood relations who fought in it, but because they named me an honorary member of their Veterans of World War II Association for my work in the classroom and in uncovering and reuniting the story of the liberation of the concentration camp train at Farsleben, Germany on Friday, April 13, 1945.

So you can imagine my excitement when I ran across this passage last evening from page 599 of Rick’s book. He writes about some of the chaos that unfolded as POWs, slave laborers, and concentration camps were liberated in Germany:

“Instead, starvation, revenge, indiscipline, and chaos often created what Allied officers called a “liberation complex.” SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces ] had presumed that refugees “would be tractable, grateful, and powerless after their domination for from two to five years as the objects of German slave policies.” As an Army assessment concluded, “They were none of these things.… Newly liberated persons looted, robbed, murdered, and in some cases destroyed their own shelter.” Freed laborers plundered houses in the Ruhr, burning furniture for cook fires and discarding slave rags to dress in business suits, pajamas, and evening clothes ransacked from German wardrobes. Ravenous ex-prisoners licked flour off the floor of a Farsleben bakery. In Osnabrück, “rampageous” Russian slaves died after swilling V-2 rocket fuel discovered in a storage yard. Others smashed wine barrels and liquor bottles in a Hanover cellar, drinking so heavily from a sloshing, six-inch-deep pool of alcohol on the floor that several collapsed in a stupor and drowned before U.S. MPs could close the entrance.”

So I did a double take: Ravenous ex-prisoners licked flour off the floor of a Farsleben bakery. I checked his notes-page 801, sure enough, 30th Division G-2 report. I know I have read this before in my research of primary source documentation, originally sent to me by Frank Towers, one of the liberators.  Here it is.

30th Division Medical Detachment Diary & Log

Of course, the backstory surrounding the document above is the story that I have to tell- the soldiers of the 30th Infantry Division and the attached 743rd Tank Battalion, the Holocaust survivors whom they stumbled upon, liberated, and were reunited with 62 years later at our high school and subsequent events.  I’ll probably share the Benjamin photo with Mr. Atkinson on his FB page. 

Anyway, I recommend the book to any of my followers interested in the history of World War II in the European theater, and am really pumped to teach some very excited and motivated students this year, including the grandson of the tank commander who was sent to investigate the train.

This is how you “do” history, and how the teaching of history can sometimes take on a life of its own. So cool to be a part of it, and to read something in a best seller and be able to grasp the incredible backstory that awaits to be told.

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