Hellcat News, (Fullerton, Calif.), Vol. 57, No. 11, Ed. 1, July 2004 Page: 13 of 20
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At the Reunion in Abilene, TX, 2001, a dedication of the WWII
Monument was held. Howard Bullwinkle [C/134] was in atten-
chocolate are the most critical items.
Major Malcolm joined him and he had a lot of fun breaking him
into the old style plumbing facilities. Major Malcolm had never
lived in a house with a bathroom so he had to demonstrate the
proper procedure. Even then he was a little conscious stricken but
finally had to use the chamber pot. They slept very comfortably and
both were happy over the arrangements.
Moments Remembered —
Editor's Note: This column is open to any member of the 12th Armored
Division. The article should be relatively short (NOT book-length), and
can be either serious or comic, depending on the subject. Share your
experiences with your comrades.
Camp - April 27 or 28, 1945
By Herb Arenz, Battery A, 493rd
We were heading south on the road toward the Lech River
and the City of Landsberg when we received a fire mission;
pulling off the road in search of a field to place Battery A for
the fire mission, we noticed this fenced in prison camp.
Lt. Vernon Wolcott* and I were riding in a VW which we
had liberated and inserted into our convoy. We saw the
Concentration camp with the pedestrian gate standing open.
Being normal nosey GIs, the Lt. and I pulled out of line and
went to investigate. As we were standing in the gate looking at
starved bodies scattered all over, a pair of arms went around
our legs and a (we thought dead) person kissed our shoes and
in a very quiet voice said, "Americans."
In the corner of the camp closest to the gate we could see
smoke rising from a prisoners' sleeping quarters building. The
SS guards, realizing that the Americans would arrive that day,
had gathered what they thought was the rest of the live
prisoners into this barracks, nailed boards over the windows
and doors so that no one could escape, and used flamethrowers
to set fire to the structure. The stench of burning flesh from
bodies that had burned and from bodies that were still burning
was almost unbearable; the building had burned to the ground
but smoke was still rising from it and its contents.
This camp contained several thousand intellectuals, Jews
and men with anti-Nazi dispositions from many nations in
Europe. No gas chambers were used here nor were any medi-
cal experiments performed. To the best of our knowledge no
one used the skin of the people to make lamp shades, etc., as
The fuel situation there was very critical so most fireplaces have
been turned off. Even if they were to locate coal or wood it couldn't
be used but would feel mighty nice with a fire to take the chill off
some of these cold nights. But they were much better off than
anticipated. Much rain but on two nights the ground froze hard.
The rest of his letter was about members of his family and due to
our lack of space I am eliminating that. I'm sure you will
understand, Bob. I think this letter was very informative and inter-
esting. At one time I too was billeted in a chalet type home and the
Frau fixed hasenpfeffer for us. Otherwise I was exposed to the
elements like most were.
Had held the column hoping to have information on the unit
dinner but didn't work out. Till next month, stay well, take, care and
God bless you all.
493RD ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY
Jess E. Rollin, 1078 Park Ave. Ext, P.O. Box 385, Clearfield, PA 16830
Phone (814) 765-5634 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
July Birthdays: Nancy Koehler -15, Anne Mullin - 7.
August Birthdays: Barbara Carr - 4, Gerald Koehler - 4, Dorothy
Steffenaur - 7, Walter Liskow - 8, Marie Farrand - 9, Betty Hexall-
11, Carl Morgan - 12, Cary Smith -12, Estelle Towle -14.
In few days it will be Memorial Day, which is a special day for
had happened at other camps. Starvation, abuse and disease
were the only methods of elimination for these people. Of
course, the end result was the same.
Living conditions were atrocious - wooden shacks half
buried in the ground, wooden shelves for sleeping with one
blanket shared by three. The menu was watered-down soup
which was insufficient to keep the prisoners alive. Diseases
spread quickly and fatally.
The program was for the living prisoners to remove daily
those who had died and place them along the gutter in front of
the barracks. Every three days a wagon picked up these bodies
and removed them to the railroad track that ran behind the
camp. They were placed in boxcars to be taken to a
crematorium. If no railroad boxcars were available the bodies
were stacked like cordwood beside the track.
We found still living bodies mixed with dead in the huts, in
the gutters and on the streets of the camp as well as stacked
beside the tracks.
I am sure that anyone that has not personally seen these
atrocities would find it very difficult to believe. In fact, if I had
not seen it with my own eyes and smelled it personally I am
not sure that I could believe it. It is difficult to believe that
people could do things like this to other human beings. This
camp did not receive the publicity of Dachau and the other
well-known extermination operations.
Shortly after completing the fire mission, some of the troops
searched the surrounding woods and captured an SS Officer.
He denied that he had been connected with the prison camp. I
am afraid that, after seeing the atrocities of the camp, he was
questioned none too gently. It is possible he may have fallen
against a rifle butt or two being held by the GIs questioning
him. It is likely that upon arriving at the PW cage he may have
needed some first aid from falls.
*lst Lt. Vernon R. Wolcott won the Silver Star for Gallantry in
Action at Wurzburg, Germany.
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Twelfth Armored Division Association (U.S.). Hellcat News, (Fullerton, Calif.), Vol. 57, No. 11, Ed. 1, July 2004, newspaper, July 2004; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth410537/m1/13/?q=12th%20Armored%20Memorial%20Museum: accessed August 7, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.