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Bluffs soldier witness to Nazi atrocities

by Brien T. Boyce Saturday, Sep. 20, 2003 at 5:45 PM

As a member of an Army ordnance company, John Campbell remembers Gen. George Patton's words of advice about German soldiers in World War II: "If you SOBs meet up with a German, shoot him."

Bluffs soldier witne...
campbell.jpg, image/jpeg, 225x169

Bluffs soldier witness to Nazi atrocities

Brien T. Boyce,, September 19, 2003

"There's a lot of younger people that don't believe this happened," John Campbell said about the atrocities of genocide performed by Nazi soldiers during World War II. "They think it's all fake history. The Nazi party was a wicked party." But Campbell knows, because he saw one of the thousands of concentration camps established by the Germans during the war.

Campbell was drafted into the Army on May, 11, 1942, and was assigned to the 847th Ordnance Co. He spent much of his time in Europe, and during the last days of the war, he was in Germany. During his time there, Campbell's company was attached to Gen. George Patton's unit. Patton would pump the soldiers up to kill German soldiers

"At least," Campbell said, "that's the message I got from his conversation." Campbell remembers one such message Patton delivered very clearly: "If you SOBs meet up with a German, shoot him."

In the concentration camps, death was everywhere. Campbell remembered one concentration, or "death camp," located near Augsburg, Germany. "There were still inmates in the camp when we visited," he said.

Concentration camps were built for many reasons by the Nazis. Some were used for slave labor while others were constructed for the sole purpose of extermination.

The stories of death camps are endless. In July 1944, Red Army soldiers discovered the abandoned Majdanek extermination camp near Lublin, Poland. Several months later, American reporters visited Lublin, and brought back stories and photographs of a warehouse filled with more than 800,000 shoes that once belonged to Nazi victims.

Many prisoners were emaciated, their faces gaunt and hollow, and their bodies skeletons with flesh pulled taut over the frame.

It was during a walk that Campbell and other soldiers discovered a group of bodies."They looked like they'd been shot," he said, "like they had been lined up and shot."

A member of Campbell's company had a camera with him, and took pictures of the camp, bodies and several squat structures with tall smokestacks. Those structures, said Campbell, were incinerators, built to hold the body of a six-foot person.

Campbell said some of the dead looked like German soldiers, and the rumor was they were killed by the inmates. The scene at the concentration camp didn't bother Campbell, though. "I had no trouble coping with it," he said. "It was what war was all about."

Campbell's company had a group of German POWs captured during various missions. On one occasion, he asked a 19-year-old German soldier who served as a translator why he and the rest of them followed Adolph Hitler. "He said, 'Hitler did (for us) what (President) Roosevelt did for Americans.'"

Campbell has resided in Council Bluffs ever since his discharge from the Army in 1946. To this day, he still has an envelope filled with photos taken during his trip to the concentration camp. If someone asks, he'll show them the photos as proof that such horrific crimes against humanity did happen.

"It is real," he said.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 13 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Today I had the honor... nonanarchist Saturday, Sep. 20, 2003 at 7:34 PM
he's a lying sack of shit nonanarchist=daveman Saturday, Sep. 20, 2003 at 7:42 PM
What the hell is the matter with you? nonanarchist Saturday, Sep. 20, 2003 at 7:47 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Saturday, Sep. 20, 2003 at 8:50 PM
test test Sunday, Sep. 21, 2003 at 10:07 PM
Chicken Boy nonanarchist Sunday, Sep. 21, 2003 at 10:12 PM
Patriotism... Reality Check Sunday, Sep. 21, 2003 at 11:35 PM
Nope, no surprise at all. nonanarchist Monday, Sep. 22, 2003 at 10:22 AM
^^^i'm a fucking pussy nonanarchist=daveman Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2003 at 12:04 AM
^ nonanarchist Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2003 at 10:47 PM
This story is the a good reason... Laurence Wednesday, Sep. 24, 2003 at 10:00 AM
Germany doesn't need to feel sorrow Reality Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 10:52 AM
Quik thinking, Reality Ignatius Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 10:59 AM

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