They Survived the Holocaust…

In Honor and Memory of Billy West: Veteran of WWII

It was 1941 and the US had entered the war against Germany.  A man by the name of Billy was one among many who were shipped out to fight on foreign soil.

Billy fought with his fellow GI’s and served with honor.  Eventually they were  ordered to investigate a report of a camp in the city of Dachau.  That day changed who Billy was.  As the US troops arrived, he was with those that liberated Dachau Concentration Camp.

Dachau liberation day death trainsThe first thing Billy and the others noticed was a horrible smell.  As they entered the camp they discovered a train of boxcars, filled with decaying bodies.  Each car was filled and locked shut. Those who had been crammed in were left inside by the Nazis to starve and rot after they arrived at the camp.  They were never given even a chance to survive.  Car after car was opened as the soldiers searched hoping to find survivors.

Billy began to sob as he recalled this scene.  Overwhelmed by the horror of what they saw, he seemed not to be able to go on.  But drawing on the resilience of men who defeated the Nazi war machine, Billy told us one more thing that stunned us

“We found one!  Among the dead and emaciated bodies, we found one who was still alive.  We cried when we found one we could help.  But we were devastated by the horror, the cruelty; it changed us.

Billy’s platoon were among the first to arrive but other platoons joined them to help Dauchau liberation day boxcarrelease the prisoners of this first camp set up in 1933.  Of the 2310 bodies on the trains, he was overcome with the lack of ability to help those who perished.  They could help only one…

It was my privilege to join Billy’s family and his friend Tina as he told his war experience for the first time.  Bottled up until he lived into his 90’s, he knew the history had to be told.

Billy died two days after the 70th anniversary of liberation of Dauchau.  It was just like Billy to see it through to the very end.  Just like the Survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust, he was changed by the trauma.  Please pray for his family at this time and remember the veterans who saw the suffering first hand.

They can all tell you– the Holocaust DID happen.  -Susan Heagy


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