Scrapbookpages Blog

November 14, 2012

The day that Holocaust Survivor Stephan Ross was liberated from Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:49 am

Famous photo, taken on the day that Dachau was liberated, shows Stephan Ross on the far left

The photo above was taken at the barbed fire fence on the West side of the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, the day that the camp was liberated by American troops.  Stephan Ross, on the far left, had been a prisoner in 10 different concentration camps.

Stephan Ross is one of the most well known survivors of the Holocaust.  I have a whole page on my website here, devoted to his story.  The following quote is from my website:

The following information about Stephen Ross is from The New England Holocaust Memorial:

The effort to build the New England Holocaust Memorial began with a Holocaust survivor, Stephen Ross (Szmulek Rozental), who was imprisoned at the age of 9 and whose parents, one brother and 5 sisters were murdered by the Nazi’s. Between 1940 and 1945, he survived 10 different concentration camps.

Like so many others Stephen Ross suffered terribly. “His back was broken by a guard who caught him stealing a raw potato. Tuberculosis wracked his body. He once hid in an outhouse, submerged to his neck in human waste, to save himself from being shot. At one time he was hung [by his arms] for eating a raw potato.” At age fourteen he was liberated from the infamous torture camp Dachau by American troops. Stephen will never forget the soldiers who found him, emaciated and nearly dead. They liberated him from a certain death.”

When Stephen and his older brother, Harry, the only other surviving family member, were released from the Dachau Camp to seek medical attention, they came upon a U.S. Tank Unit. One of the soldiers jumped off his tank, gave Stephen and Harry his rations to eat and put his arms around Stephen. Stephen fell to his knees, kissed the G.I.’s boots and began to cry for the first time in five years.

The soldier took out of his pocket a piece of cloth and gave it to Stephen to wipe his tears. Stephen later found out that it was a small American Flag with 48 stars. This small flag is a treasured item and it will be kept by Stephen and his children as a symbol of freedom, life, compassion and love of the American soldiers.

On Veteran’s Day this year, there were several stories in the news about Stephan Ross, who finally met the family of Steven Sattler, the American soldier who had given Ross a small American flag to dry his tears of joy, 67 years ago.

One of these stories, from the Mail Online, is quoted below:

Stephan Ross, now 81, was ten years old when U.S. serviceman Steve Sattler came across him, emaciated and terrified at Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

After handing over his rations to the boy during the 1945 liberation, Sattler then gave the ten-year-old his handkerchief decorated with the Stars and Stripes. […]

Mr Ross, who now lives in Newton, Massachusetts, had spent the War in ten different concentration camps.  […]

Sattler was a member of the 191st Tank Battalion who were part of the troops who liberated Dachau, about ten miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany.

Ross was actually 14 years old when he was liberated from Dachau.  He had been imprisoned since the age of 9, and during those five years, he had been in 10 different camps.

The following quote is from the story in the Boston Globe:

Some 67 years ago, a broken, emaciated boy looked up and saw an American soldier sitting astride a tank outside the gates of Dachau, the 10th concentration camp the boy had endured during the long war.

The hazel-eyed soldier hopped down and handed the boy rations he was eating. The boy ate with his fingers before dropping to his knees and kissing the soldier’s boots. A radio crackled with orders for the soldier to move on as part of the liberation effort. But first, the soldier hoisted the boy up and handed him a handkerchief decorated with a 48-star American flag.

Yesterday, clutching that flag in a velvet pouch, the boy, now an 81-year-old man of Newton, thanked the family of the soldier in person for the first time.

Was a tank from the 191st Tank Battalion really parked outside the Dachau gate?
This quote is from a letter written by Lt. Col. Felix Sparks of the 45th Division, one of the two divisions that are credited with liberating Dachau:

A day or so after the fall of Nurnberg, I was designated as a task force commander, with the mission of moving with all possible speed towards Munich, Germany. At that time, I was a lieutenant colonel commanding the Third Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Seventh United States Army. Attached to my battalion for this mission were the entire 191st Tank Battalion,, Battery C of the 158th Field Artillery, and supporting engineers from the 120th Engineer Battalion […]

At 0730 on the morning of April 29, the task force had resumed the attack with companies L and K and the tank battalion as the assault force.

According to Lt. Col. Sparks, the 191st Tank Battalion was involved in the liberation of Dachau, although the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum gives credit only to the 45th Division, the 42nd Division and the 20th Armored Division as liberators of Dachau.

You can read the full story of the liberation of Dachau on my website here.