522nd Field Artillery Battalion
George Oiye tells about seeing Dachau survivors for the first time as lumps in the snow. (Run time: 2:34)
(The approach to Dachau, what you saw, what you might have been thinking when you saw it. Did you understand what was going on?) No, my first encounter was these lumps in the snow, and then I didn't know what they were, and so I went and investigated them and discovered that they were people, you know. Most of them were skeletons or people who had been beaten to death or just died of starvation or overworked or whatever. Most of them I think died from exposure because it was cold. Then, we started seeing some of the ones that were, or photographs of, even people that were piled up in piles ready for the incinerator. These things were really devastating. At first, you know, it's such a big thing, it's such a big shock that you don't immediately react to it because there's so many emotions that are running around in your head. Get angry, but you don't know exactly who to be angry at, and then you get frustrated, and you get demoralized. I think the thing that characterizes my late reaction was that I had a tremendous feeling of guilt. And, my guilt wasn't for me, I didn't do that. But, my guilt was for mankind for having sinned before the eyes of God. And, to have done that kind of thing and enjoyed it, and that's hard to cope with. But, it's one of those things that took place. No question about it, and we were there.
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