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On April 15, Mathew Rozell, a high school teacher from Hudson Falls, New York, speaking at the Yom Hashoah memorial service in Rochester, NY, presented the story of US Army soldiers who liberated 2500 Jews on April 13, 1945 from a train headed from Bergen-Belsen to another concentration camp.
Mr. Rozell had started a project in his history class interviewing World War II veterans about their experiences and created a website showing the interviews. In one interview, the veteran, Carroll Walsh, a veteran, mentioned as an afterthought coming across a train while pursuing German troops. The train had been transporting 2500 Jews, packed in cattle cars. German troops, guarding the train, had fled when the Americans approached. Walsh and his fellow soldiers took care of the survivors until a more permanent help arrived. Rozell wanted to know more.
Mr. Rozell interviewed other soldiers and was given a number of photographs of the event. After the news media picked up the story, his website, which had received only a few hits a day, was inundated with visitors, and Mr. Rozell started getting emails and calls from people who had been rescued from that train. Over 250 survivors have discovered the story on the website and Rozell arranged for meetings between survivors and soldiers. He has held eleven reunions so far.
Upon receiving a thank you from one of the survivors, Walsh wrote: “You are always expressing gratitude to me, the 743rd Tank Battalion and the 30th Infantry Division. But I do not believe gratitude is deserved because we were doing what we, and the whole world, should have been doing: rescuing and protecting innocent people from being killed, murdered by vicious criminals.
You do not owe us. We owe you. We can never repay you and the Jewish people of Europe for what was stolen from you: your homes, possessions, businesses, money, art, family life, families, your childhood, your dreams, and all your lives. That is how I feel.”*
History Matters Website
* The Transport to Life: A Class Project Reunites Survivors of the Holocaust with Their Liberators.
Persons of the Week – ABC News
Interview With Survivor Steve Barry and Liberator Carrol Walsh (part1, part2, part 3)