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S/Sgt. Fred Riley

 

"I was a platoon sergeant in Company B of the 702nd Tank Battalion, which was attached to the 80th Infantry Division most of the time we were in Europe, and we were one of the first troops at a concentration camp at Ebensee, Austria.  Later I found out it was a satellite camp of Mauthausen. 

 

When we arrived, the German guards had departed-and hundreds of Russians, Poles, Jews and other people who had been working in the camp were roaming around the area, completely lost to humanity.  Three hundred to 400 people a day were dying of starvation, and the stench from the sick and dying was horrible.

 

Many were unable to walk and just stayed in their wooden bunks.  Those who could walk were helped to showers where they were deloused with DDT.  While they were showering, their camp clothing was washed by a U.S. Army laundry unit.

 

The U.S. Army moved in an Evac Hospital.  I believe that it was the 101st Evac Hospital.  Our unit had a tank with a bulldozer blade, and the hospital people asked us to clear an area for their big tents.  In doing so, we ran into two massive graves-the first had approximately 1,500 dead, and the second had about 750 dead.

 

This camp, like a lot of the others, was a work camp.  The prisoners were fed very little, and when they could no longer work, they were put to death.  This camp also housed furnaces and gas chambers.  The townspeople of Ebensee denied even knowing about it.

 

This was more than 54 years ago, and the unpleasant memory of it still lingers on.  Or was it just a bad dream?"

 

 

 

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