By Sol R. Brandell

An autobiographic account from 1st December, 1942, through 31st March, 1946
in the European Theater of Operations

Table of Contents
At City College of New York and Enlistment
Call to Active Duty
Infantry Basic Training, Camp Wolters, TX
Examination and Assignment to ASTP
ASTP and Pre-Med at University of Cincinnati, OH
89th Infantry Division, Camp Butner, NC
Overseas to European Theater of Operations
Combat Duty Begins
Discovery of Concentration Camps at Ohrdruf
Combat Duty Continues
V-E Day and Return to Normandy
At University of Paris
Occupation Duty at Linz-Urfahr, Austria
Second Return to Normandy and Return Trip to the US

Combat Duty Continues

I never saw the beautiful "Zwickau" girl again, as I and another fellow, who was our radio operator, were sent on patrol to Aue, a little place at the Czechoslovakian border, and where shortly after our arrival, we saw a large cloud of dust coming toward us. While looking through my field glasses, I told the radioman to call the 2nd Battalion Command Post, which was a few miles away near Gera, and tell them that an enemy group, carrying a white flag was approaching us at the border and that it was a large, ragged column of dirty, bearded, some bandaged, some on crutches, some wounded and crippled on horse drawn wagons, disheveled and motley group of German and Hungarian soldiers. We therefore accepted the surrender of about 8000 smiling, mostly German, but with some Hungarian troops among them, fleeing from the Russian forces about 15 km behind them. The highest-ranking officer in the group, an "Oberst", or Colonel, saluted me, addressed me as "Obergrefreiter", i.e., Private First Class, and presented me with his pistol belt and holster, containing a 1916 Luger P08 Pistol. I told him to order his troops to throw down all their weapons, saying "Ihre soldaten muchten alle waffen und munizionen darunter werfen!" He understood me and shouted the command to which they quickly responded. They appeared radiantly happy about giving up to the Americans and having successfully escaped the Russians advancing behind them. I told him to have his orderly keep his white flag high and to keep the whole group moving forward to our Battalion HQ were they would be taken care of. He saluted me again and commanded his group to move forward. We again radioed our Battalion HQ to request they send a detail of men with a truck to pick up a few thousand pieces of German small-arms weapons, together with ammunition of different kinds, because it might be dangerous to leave them in case the "Ostarbeiters", German civilians, fugitive SS men, or even the advancing Russians gain access to all these weapons and ammunition. We couldn't foretell who might shoot who? Our Battalion Commander agreed and a 2-1/2 ton truck with some men was sent out to us while we waited patiently!

When we returned to Gera from the foregoing mission, we came upon a group of children who begged us for chocolate or candy. One little boy, about 6 years old, to whom I'd given a chocolate bar, told me proudly, in his innocence, and in a loud voice, that his father was in the Waffen SS! His mother, standing in the doorway of her house scarcely 15 feet away, heard him and looked at me fearfully with a pleading attitude on her face. Remembering the sights of Ohrdruf, I told her in my stilted German that even though I was Jewish I wouldn't do to her son what her murderous husband, and all the others like him, had already done to the Jews!

I also added in my best German, "May God curse your husband and you forever!!" She stared at me with such a wide-eyed look that it made me suspect the curse had already begun!!


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