In one of the entries on Dwight D. Eisenhower, I mentioned the day Ike and General George Patton went to Ohdruf, the first concentration camp liberated by the allies.
Then last week I read an article in the Greenfield Recorder about Sergeant David Cohen of Longmeadow, who served in Patton’s Third Army and was there that day and actually spoke with Eisenhower. He is shown above in a photo by Paul Franz.
Sergeant Cohen, now 90, is part of the Veterans Education Project. He spoke to students at Franklin County Technical School about what he saw and smelled on that day: heaps of corpses piled high — men, women, children, babies…
“There were bodies all over,” he told the students. “You can’t even begin to describe it. Human bodies made into nothing. To this day I can remember how bad the smell was, the human waste and burned bodies.”
These students have all probably read about the Holocaust, but hearing it described by an eye witness means a lot more.
The students asked Sergeant Cohen about the people who deny the Holocaust ever happened.
“Those people know it happened,” he said, “but they’re glad it happened. They’re haters. But they know it happened.”
The goal of the Veterans Education Project is to de-glorify war and show students what it’s really like. Sergeant Cohen says we shouldn’t hate anyone, not even the New York Yankees.
“It’s a waste,” Cohen said. “We still kill people. Even now, we still have wars. Why? Because we hate and we’re greedy. We have greed for power, for money, oil. It causes people to hate. It’s like a cancer.”
Tonight I called Sergeant Cohen to thank him for his service in WWII and for bearing witness to the horrors of war. We talked for a while about Patton and Eisenhower. Patton’s men recognized that he was a good general, but they didn’t like him much.
He said Eisenhower was a lot more popular.
“He was a good man,” he said. “He did a good thing when he warned us about the military industrial complex. We have to watch out for those jokers.”