Robert D. Turner | S.C. Voices: Lessons from the Holocaust


This West Columbia native was drafted in 1945 and sent to Germany. The soldiers he was with discovered the remnants of a concentration camp which Germans had just left. They saw the bodies of people who had been shot probably only an hour earlier. They were ragged looking, lying in fresh blood, in a dusty courtyard. No one remained. There were other bodies stacked like cordwood; apparently starved and gassed. The gas chamber was a huge, steel chamber with its doors open. The mayor got villagers to remove bodies from the smoke house and bury them; the people seemed unaware of conditions here on the outskirts of village. Turner was so glad to return home. He didn't tell anyone about what he had seen in the camp. But the memories haunted him. The Holocaust did exist; he saw it firsthand; it was not propaganda. He can't imagine how people could do this to each other. "Our own prisoners were treated well. . . We don't make a big deal out of discussing the Holocaust; we're glad not to be there now. We must never forget it."


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