New York Students Discover Death Train from WWII Germany
“[American troops] came upon a long string of grimy, ancient boxcars standing silent on the tracks. In the banks by the tracks, as if to get some pitiful comfort from the thin April sun, a multitude of people of all shades of misery spread themselves in a sorry, despairing tableaux [sic]. As the American uniforms were sighted, a great stir went through this strange camp. Many rushed toward [them]… This had been-and was-a horror train. In these freight cars had been shipped 2500 people, jam-packed in like sardines, and they were people that had two things in common, one with the other: They were prisoners of the German State and they were Jews” (Source: Move out Verify: the Combat Story of the 743rd Tank Battalion by Wayne Robinson, Germany, no publisher, 1945, 162-63, accessed from Hudson Falls High School’s WWII Living History Project).
Sergeant George Gross of the liberating force recalls, “Battle-hardened veterans learn to contain their emotions, but it was difficult then, and I cry now to think about it. What stamina and regenerative spirit those brave people showed!” (Interview with Matt Rozell, March 2002, same link as above). Sgt. Gross and other members of the 743rd Tank Batallian, US 9th Army, were reunited September 22-26 with some of the survivors from the train they liberated.
The reunion was the third one hosted by Hudson Falls High School thanks to the Herculean efforts of history teacher Matt Rozell (see AP Article from 9/23). It’s quite a remarkable story, really. Rozell, looking for a way to inspire his students with some hands-on history lessons, began to send questionnaires home with students whose grandparents had served in WWII. In 2001, Rozell and his students began conducting interviews and that’s when they learned about the liberation of a “train near Magdeburg,” Germany. Read more…