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Survivor Stories

Kenneth C.

Kenneth C. joined the US Third Army’s 515th Medical Unit in 1943. In this capacity he entered eight different concentration camps, including Ebensee, Hemar, Oberhausen, Altmunster, and Holenfelz. He helped to set up emergency medical treatment for the prisoners in these camps.

He describes himself as a witness, rather than a liberator, out of respect for those who survived the camps.

Excerpt from Video Testimony

Kenneth describes his emotional reaction to the things he witnessed in the camps.

Video Transcript

First I want to clarify one point, that people in my position in the Army who went into these camps were called “liberators.” And I’ll refer to this later, because I at one time went to a liberators’ conference in Washington several years ago. The word “liberator” is absolutely repulsive to me, because if anything that took away any glory that might be placed on other people’s shoulders would detract from the condition and the respect that I had for these – these “krieggies” as they called them, who were liberated. You know, it’s a situation where you’d say, well, everybody’s heard about this. But I’m somebody who saw it. And so I’ve always referred to myself as a – a person who was a – choking up a little bit – who witnessed the camps. And that’s what I will always be, is a witness. …It was just a horrible experience. And it still is. People have asked me about, how did I feel. And I have to tell them that I didn’t feel. And later when I talk about this conference in Washington – you couldn’t feel, because if you did, you would just blow up. I mean, you’d pass out. You couldn’t start to have sympathy for Jews who were dead, who were starved, who were beaten, and thrown about as dirt in the world. You couldn’t feel. I can feel it today, but I didn’t then.