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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Holocaust Survivors And The WWII Vets Who Liberated Them 65 Years Ago Honored in Washington, Troopers of the 82nd Airbone Division liberated survivors of the Woebbelin Concentration Camp.

PHOTO General David H. Petraeus, right, speaks to 120 World War II veterans who helped liberate the Nazi concentration camps

65 years after liberating the Nazi concentration camps, 120 World War II veterans were honored in Washington on Thursday, perhaps the last time many of them will be able to gather together. With the average age of the World War II vets lying somewhere around 86 years old, no one knows how many Liberators will be here for the 70th anniversary.

CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus led the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol and told the veterans in attendance that today's servicemen and women stand on the shoulders of their generation. “The liberators with us here today should know that their actions continue to inspire those who wear our nation’s uniform,” Petraeus said. “Their units remain proud of their noble actions. Their courage and compassion feature prominently in the histories of the storied divisions whose colors are represented here today, and those qualities are etched in the hearts of all who hear of their valiant deeds.

A generation of Americans fought in World War II and hundreds of thousands of them died, staring evil in the face, in the effort to defeat the Nazis and bring the Third Reich to an end,” Petraeus went on to say. “We, and indeed all of humanity, owe them an eternal debt of gratitude for accomplishing their mission in Europe and for giving Holocaust survivors the greatest gifts of all – their lives and their freedom.”
 


As a former commander of the 101st Airborne Division, Petraeus is keenly aware of the key role that unit played in the war against the Nazis. During World War II, members of the 101st Airborne division liberated Landsberg, a subcamp of Dachau. 

Today’s ceremony is part of a weeklong series of events. In a private ceremony at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, Petraeus presented each Liberator with a coin, in the shape of the patch for the U.S. Central Command. On the back of the coin was the four-star flag of a U.S. Army General and the inscription “For Excellence.”  more from this source....



Troopers of the 82nd Airborne Division liberated survivors of the Woebbelin Concentration Camp. Robert Warner from Binghamton NY, a trooper with the 82 Airborne Division, was involved with the invasion of Normandy and campaignes into Rhineland, the Ardennes Belgium and Central Europe.  Robert Warner fought with the 82nd Airborne in Germany and Belgium until his Honorable Discharge on October 23rd 1945.



On 16 December 1944, lead elements of a German offensive broke through the American line in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. The only reserve forces available were the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The 82nd was alerted on 17 December 1944 and by the next evening was in Webermont, Belgium, on the northern shoulder of the bulge created by the enemy attack. On the morning of 19 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne took up defensive positions along the Salm River. There, the 82nd stopped Von Runstedt's armored offensive, Robert Warner from Binghamton NY was here, he was part of a mortar platoon.



The 82nd was on the offensive by January 1945. The Division moved through Belgium and the Hurtgen Forest, penetrated the Seigfried Line, and arrived at the Roer River by February 1945.  On 30 April 1945, the 82nd Airborne conducted its last combat operation of World War II with an assault crossing of the Elbe River near Bleckede, Germany. On 2 May 1945, Major General Gavin accepted the surrender of 150,000 troops of the German 21st Army. On the same day, troopers of the Division liberated survivors of the Woebbelin Concentration Camp.



The Kaufering IV sub-camp of Dachau was liberated by the 12th Armored Division of the US Seventh Army on April 27, 1945 with help from soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, who arrived on April 28, 1945.  Kaufering IV was one of 11 camps, all named Kaufering and numbered I through XI, which were located near Landsberg am Lech, not far from the city of Munich. Kaufering IV had been designated as the sick camp where prisoners who could no longer work were sent.


The Dachau Concentration camp system included 123 sub-camps and Kommandos which were set up in 1943 when factories were built near the main camp to make use of the forced labor of the Dachau prisoners. These sub-camps were liberated by various divisions of the American army that unexpectedly came across them on their way to capture Munich.

The 11 Kaufering sub-camps were set up specifically to build three huge underground factories for a project called Ringeltaube. In these subterranean factories, the German jet fighter plane Messerschmitt Me 262 was to be built. Allied bombing raids had made it necessary for the Nazis to build their factories underground; this had caused great suffering for the prisoners who were forced to do the work of constructing them.



Approximately 14,500 prisoners in the 11 Kaufering camps died of hunger, cold weather, overwork and typhus. Conditions were far more severe at the Kaufering camps where the barracks buildings had been built partially underground in an attempt to hide the camp from Allied planes.


When the 12th Armored Division first found the Kaufering IV camp on April 27th, there were hundreds of unburied bodies. The German civilians in Hurlach were forced, at gunpoint, to carry the bodies to mass graves for burial, see photo above.

Louis Vecchi of Benicia, CA was a member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. In an interview with Rachel Raskin-Zrihen of the Benicia Times-Herald, Vecchi described the Kaufering IV camp. The following quote is from the Times-Herald September 25, 2007 edition:  "It was the Landsberg slave labor camp (a Dachau death camp satellite camp)," Vecchi said. "When we got there, the people were practically dead from starvation. I know there are people who say the Holocaust didn't happen, but that's bull. I saw it."


Gene Cook was a soldier in A company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. After fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, Cook's unit was ordered to Hitler's vacation home in Berchtesgaden, according to an article by Alex McRae and Megan Almon in The Times-Herald, published on December 24, 2007.

According to The Times-Herald article, on the way to Berchtesgaden, the soldiers of A Company "came across a strange complex circled with barbed wire. It was Landsberg, a satellite operation for the massive concentration camp at Dachau."


The following quote is from the article written by McRae and Almon in The Times-Herald:  Cook will never forget the sight. "I didn't even know what we were looking at," he says. "It took me a while to realize it was a pile of dead bodies." The prisoners came out of their quarters, emaciated, filthy and disoriented. "It was awful, "Cook says. "Some walked around like zombies. Some were so feeble they couldn't even stand." The prisoners all begged for food. Cook gave one man all he had - a small piece of cheese - and the man said in English "You are God in disguise."

Late in the day, Cook saw a procession of men carrying what seemed to be a door with a purple cloth covering something. Cook learned the object beneath the cloth was soap made from the bodies of dead prisoners. He also learned the man he had given the cheese to was dead.

Dr. Charles P. Larson, a US Army doctor, examined 258 bodies at the Kaufering IV camp and reported that 189 had probably died of typhus or starvation, while 86 had apparently been burned to death, 11 had been shot inside the camp and 17 more had been gunned down outside the camp. Dr. Larson also did autopsies on some of the bodies at the Dachau main camp and determined that none had died from poison gas.

Sunday, May 11, 2008, BAND OF WARNER BROTHERS AT D-DAY INVASION OF NORMANDY & STE.-MERE-EGLISE WITH THE 82nd AIRBORNE ON 6/06/44. Last of city's WWII 'band of brothers' dies, 3 of 4 Warners were involved in the D-Day invasion.  James Warner, Robert Warner, Harry Warner & William Warner.  AT WAR AND HOME; Robert, William and Harry Warner were involved in the D-Dayinvasion of Normandy. James probably arrived in the war zonesometime after the initial assault.

From air and sea, Allied troops invaded Normandy's beaches on June 6, 1944, with 5,300 ships, nearly 11,000 airplanes, about 50,000 military vehicles and 154,000 troops. The strategy was to establish five beachheads as gateways into the German-occupied territory. The assault eventually opened Western Europe to Allied forces and turned the tide against Adolf Hitler.


With two combat assaults under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war so far, as part of Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy. The 82nd Airborne Division conducted Operation Boston, part of the airborne assault phase of the Overlord plan
 

* Paratrooper Army Pvt. Robert Warner, who was in his early 20s at the time, landed in Normandy (Ste.- Mere- Eglise) with the 507th Parachute Infantry (82nd Airborne). He had enlisted in April 1942 after graduation from the former St. Patrick Academy High School in Binghamton. A newspaper story reported him as getting injured in combat, Purple Heart,  although his injuries were not life-threatening.  Robert Waner continued on with the 507th Parachute Infantry 82nd Airborne Division after Normandy into Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe, he received the American Service Medal, the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Unit Badge and the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal.
 

Bill Warner Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM