Holocaust Atrocities Seen Thru the Eyes of an American Medic
by Pamela J. Adams
As Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) push for socialism in America, millennials cheer as they agree with the use of social media and socializing. (Oh, I wish I was kidding) They also stand with their hands out awaiting their free stuff promised by politicians buying their votes. Meanwhile, they call President Donald Trump and his supporters Nazis, while they applaud their leaders’ anti-Semitism, completely oblivious of the ties between Hitler, the Nazis, socialism, and the Holocaust.
My uncle served in World War II as a medic. He liberated a starvation camp and saw the results of Hitler’s socialist utopia first hand. In a presentation for Holocaust Memorial Day a few years ago at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, he shared his experiences. In honor of this year Holocaust Memorial Day (May 2), I’d like to share his story.
The Story of Larry Reynolds
Larry Reynolds found himself in Germany as a medic in the 5th Infantry rifle company, 71st Infantry Division at the end of World War II. While he saw combat, he got his fill of inhumanity off the battlefield.
On a normal patrol, two of his fellow soldiers were traveling along a road in a jeep. One, an avid amateur photographer, had two cameras strapped across his chest, scouring the landscape for an interesting picture. They noticed something on the road. As they approached, they observed what Larry described as a “bag of bones” trying to crawl down the road.
The soldiers immediately contacted their commander for help. After the Red Cross arrived, the battalion began to investigate. What they discovered was Gunskirchen Lager, one of the many hidden starvation camps the Nazis constructed to eradicate the Jews.
Camouflaged by a beautiful forest, the Nazis had fenced off a section to use as a starvation camp. When the 71st Infantry arrived, they discovered an incomplete barracks, which allowed the cold air to infiltrate the building while prisoners huddled inside. There was one cot and one blanket for each prisoner, who were already barely clothed.
When Hitler and his Nazi regime gained power and began their Holocaust against the Jewish population, they found interesting ways to imprison and execute their victims. While Dachau and other camps were originally built to hold political prisoners, they found themselves needing more and more space for their other victims.
Many stories have been told about the Nazis digging ditches, lining up the Jews and just shooting them. They would throw some lime on the deceased before setting up the next group to be executed. Once the war started, Hitler found this method expensive, costing ammunition and valuable manpower needed on the Russian front.
What many don’t know is the solution Larry revealed. To save ammunition, the Nazis would line their targets up five deep, using one bullet to pierce through them all. These poor souls would then be pushed into the ditch, often while some were still alive, only to have lime and more bodies thrown on top of them while they gasped in pain for air.
Architect Albert Speer offered an even more economic resolution to Hitler that accelerated the devastation of the Holocaust. It was Speer who designed the gas chamber and the furnace used in the concentration camps to quickly and easily dispose of the Jews and other undesirables. These more efficient killing methods, borrowed from ideas proposed by progressives in California, gave Hitler the resources he needed to continue his killing spree, not only in the concentration camps but on the battlefield as well.
Not all camps used the gas chambers. Some, like Gunskirchen Lager, just starved their inmates. The only food they had was what they found on the forest floor. At night, with only one blanket apiece, the prisoners would huddle up, layering the blankets and using body heat to keep warm. Inevitably, starvation, dehydration, and cold would usually claim a few casualties throughout the night.
The 71st Infantry was credited with liberating Gunskirchen Lager. Some of the victims were made honorary members of the unit.
Over the years, Larry visited with survivors of the camp. He recounted a visit he had with a survivor who in desperation had once swallowed whole snails, as that was all he could find to eat. Even though he could feel the snails moving in his stomach, he was thankful for the nourishment.
Larry relayed another man’s heart wrenching experience, which left the audience silent. Upon arriving at the camp with his parents, sister, and her newborn baby, the sister pleaded with the guards not to harm her baby. One promptly grabbed the infant by its legs, smashed its head against a rock, and then casually threw it into the bushes. He then directed each family member as to where they should go stand as if his actions were nothing more than standard operating procedure.
Larry has reunited with his fellow soldiers as well. The amateur photographer who discovered the escaped prisoner had a heartwarming story regarding his hobby. As a traveling salesman, he often had spare time with nothing to do. While in Chicago, he noticed a business across the street from his hotel that advertised book binding. Having his box of war photos in the car trunk, he wondered if they could do something with them.
After proposing his idea to the woman at the front desk, she started going through the box of pictures to see what he had. She stopped on one photo, screamed, and then ran to the back office to begin frantically talking to her associate. A moment later the man emerged and began inquiring about the photo.
“Where did you get this?”
“I took it.”
The soldier turned the photo over to find the date and location scribbled on the back. After relaying the information to the business owner, the man replied, “This is my sister. We thought she was dead.” He never found out if they were able to locate the sister, but he was happy that he could give the couple hope.
While the Holocaust is a fact to us, Americans really did not know about the atrocities until Life magazine found many of the photographs taken by soldiers and officers and published them. Roosevelt knew. High ranking officials knew. But the average American citizen and active soldier during the war did not know. It was not until units like the 71st found and liberated the camps during the occupation after the war was the true savage nature of the Nazi regime exposed.
Many of those liberated from Gunskirchen Lager were fortunate to go on to have families and lead happy lives. One woman’s granddaughter even married Larry’s nephew and my cousin.
Over the last few months, we have watched as citizens of Venezuela, once the 4th largest economy in the world, scrounge for garbage while food sent from other countries burn by order of Nicolas Maduro. Socialism always, always ends in mass starvation, poverty, and execution. Stories like Larry’s are scrubbed from history and our schools, so the children are oblivious of the truth. Therefore, the promise of equality and free stuff entice them enough to cause them to race down the exact same path of death and destruction.
Several Holocaust survivor stories are showcased in the Holocaust Exhibit at the U.S. Air Force Museum adjacent to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. This exhibit is the only federal Holocaust Exhibit other than the one in Washington D.C.
It is imperative that we continue to discover and relay these stories from survivors and the camp liberators. The fastest way for these atrocities to occur again in the future is for us to stop talking about the ones in the past.
But that’s just my 2 cents.
About the Author
Pamela J. Adams was a high school math teacher in an inner city school system but her passion is research and history. Pam has authored several genealogy books along with compilations of her historical blogs, Liberating Letters, which she maintains at her website TheFactsPaper.com. You can find more details about her books on her Amazon Page.
You can follow her current blogs at her Liberating Letters Facebook, Twitter, and Patreon accounts. Her desire is to provide a tool for teachers, parents, grandparents, and citizens to preserve and pass on America's rich history to students, family, and all people who love freedom and liberty. Pamela was also a contributing writer to Constitution.com before joining Pandora’s Box Gazette.
“Read more untold stories and how they still relate to us today at TheFactsPaper.com.”
You can read Pamela’s “I Never Heard That” column on the 2nd Wednesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.