Scrapbookpages Blog

August 11, 2013

Holocaust survivor Steve Ross, recovering from a stroke, can’t remember details of Dachau liberation

Steve Ross is the young boy on the far left, standing at the barbed wire fence around Dachau

Steve Ross is the young boy on the far left, standing at the barbed wire fence around Dachau

According to a news article, which you can read in full here, Holocaust survivor Steve Ross, shown in the photo above, is recovering from a debilitating stroke that he suffered late last November.  I can relate because I suffered a stroke a little over three years ago.  There are a lot of things that happened in 1945, which I can’t remember, due to brain damage caused by the stroke.

Steve Ross (real name Szmulek Rozental) is famous for being a Jewish boy who survived 10 different concentration camps in 5 years.

According to the news article:

In places like Budzyn, Krasnik, Czechna in Radon, Bietigheim, Vaihingen, Unterriexingen, Grossachsenheim, Neckarsulm, Auschwitz, and lastly, Dachau. Nazi concentration camps where he was imprisoned, tortured, starved, and beaten for five years, from the age of nine to 14. Yet try as they did, the Nazis couldn’t break him. And in the end, Steve survived.

Note that Steve Ross survived Auschwitz, although he was under the age of 15.  Why wasn’t he sent to one of the Auschwitz gas chambers?  This is easily explained.  Dr. Mengele could not estimate age to within 5 years, so many children got through the selection process by lying about their age.

This quote is also from the news article:

As a boy, [Steve Ross] watched as those big green tanks with white stars crashed through the gates of Dachau that spring morning in 1945, followed by lots of tall men in uniforms he’d never seen, shouting a language he’d never heard. They fanned out around the fence perimeter, then like some rapid parade in motion, poured into the camp. There were so many, so fast. Yet he and dozens of his fellow prisoners could only watch from their barracks, for they were too weak from starvation, overwork, disease, and injuries to move.

It is understandable that, after having a stroke, Steve Ross can’t remember everything about the day that he was liberated from Dachau.  I can relate.  So I am going to help him to remember what actually happened.

There were no big green tanks with white stars that crashed through the gates of Dachau.  The photo below shows the scene just after General Linden had accepted the surrender of the camp by a tall  SS soldier, Lt. Wicker, accompanied by a Red Cross man, wearing an arm band.

General Linden standing at the gate into Dachau after the camp was surrendered

General Linden standing at the gate into the Dachau camp after the camp was surrendered

American tanks had not been able to get to Dachau, to crash through the “Arbeit macht Frei” gate, which is shown intact in the photo above.

This quote, about the time line on the day of the liberation of Dachau, is from this website:

09:30 Tanks of the 101st Tank Battalion enter the city of Dachau after an alternate river crossing is found.

10:30 I Company and elements of M Company (3rd Battalion) are dispatched in the direction of the concentration camp. Tanks are held up by a bridge over the Amper River which is blown when armor is within 20 yards, killing a large number of German soldiers who are unable to cross in time.

10:45 1st Lt. L.R. Stewart and 1st Sgt. Robert Wilson of L Company find a footbridge defended by a lone German machine gunner. After firing one belt of ammunition the German retreats and I Company then crosses. Tanks and L Company remain behind to clear Dachau and continue the attack toward Munich.

The news article continues with this quote:

He saw the guards put up their hands, as if to surrender. But wait, was he seeing things? Was his chronic malnutrition causing him to be delusional? No, this time it was real. But who were these strange big men whom his all-powerful Nazi overlords were cowering before? As if to answer his thoughts, one of his fellow prisoners shouted one word.


The American Army had arrived. His long nightmare was finally over. He would live. The American soldiers had saved him from certain death. And as 14-year-old Steve Ross walked out of Dachau that day in 1945, a tall American soldier on a big American tank called him over. The soldier gave him some cans of food, smiled, and warmly touched his head. Steve cried. For the first time in five years, he cried. His emotions, bottled up through a half decade of hell, had finally poured out. The soldier told him something he couldn’t understand, then handed him a colorful cloth with stars and stripes.

The regular guards at Dachau had fled the night before the Americans arrived.  The “guards” who put up their hands, “as if to surrender” were SS men who were inside the SS garrison next to the camp.  Steve Ross was in the concentration camp, where he could not have seen the SS men with their hands in the air.  He might have seen the guards, who were in Tower B, come down with their hands in the air.  These guards, who had surrendered in good faith, were shot by the Americans and their bodies thrown into the moat, where the Americans continued to shoot at their dead bodies.

Steve Ross could not have walked out of the Dachau camp on the day that it was liberated.  The prisoners had to be kept inside until the typhus epidemic, that was going on, could be brought under control.

Fortunately, I wrote about Steve Ross on my website before I had a stroke that wiped out some of my memory.  The following information is from my website:

The young boy at the far left in the photograph [at the top of my blog post] is Stephen Ross, a 14-year-old Jewish orphan from Poland, who said that he had survived 10 different concentration camps in 5 years before he was liberated at Dachau. Standing next to him is Juda Kukieda, the son of Mordcha Mendel and Ruchla Sta.

According to the book “Dachau 29 April 1945, the Rainbow Liberation Memoirs,” edited by Sam Dann, Stephen Ross (real name Szmulek Rozental) was one of the lucky few who was rescued in the nick of time when Dachau was liberated. Ross was interviewed for the book and according to his own story, he was one of the 1,800 prisoners who were crowded into one quarantine barrack, which was designed to hold only about a hundred prisoners.

Ross said that the prisoners in the quarantine barrack had not been fed for two weeks before the Seventh Army arrived. Food was scarce, and according to Ross, the prisoners were fed only occasionally when they were given “a biscuit, hard as a rock and covered with mold.”

From the quarantine block, Ross said that 80 to 100 prisoners a day were carried out and put on the pile of dead bodies near the barbed wire fence, from where they were taken to the crematory. According to Ross, the quarantine block was where the German SS Doctors Sigmund Rascher and Klaus Schilling selected prisoners for their ghastly experiments. The doctors “removed thirty to forty prisoners on a daily basis for experiments” according to Ross.

Ross said that he “had been isolated in quarantine for experiments since 1944.” On the day of liberation, Ross made his way to the main gate, although he “was very weak and hardly able to walk.” With the help of his brother, who was also in the camp, Ross made it to the front of the crowd and was included in one of the most famous photographs of the liberation, shown at the top of this page.

After the liberation of Dachau, Ross had to stay in the camp until the typhus epidemic was brought under control. When he was released, he made his way to Munich where he was hospitalized for 6 months and treated for tuberculosis. He was then sent to a Displaced Persons camp for orphans at a former forced labor camp in Landsberg am Lech, near Munich. Finally, he was brought to America where he was able to recover his health.

Here’s my advice to young people:  Write down everything that you want to remember, because when you get old, you might have a stroke, and make a fool of yourself by telling stories about events that never happened.

The following quote is also 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.

At the age of 16, Stephen was brought to America in 1948 under the auspices of the U.S. Committee for Orphaned Children. He was illiterate, having had minimal education prior to the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1939. Over the years, he managed to earn three college degrees. Steve made a new life in the Boston area and has worked for the City of Boston for over forty years.

He provides guidance and clinical services to inner-city underprivileged youth and families. He eventually achieved the level of Senior Staff Psychologist.

Note that Steve Ross came upon a U.S. Tank unit AFTER he was released from Dachau.

Note that Steve mentioned that he had been hung by his arms at Dachau.  The “tree hanging” punishment was used at Buchenwald, not Dachau.  I blogged here about Martin Sommer, the guard who originated this atrocity.  Martin Sommer was put on trial by the Germans in the court of Dr. Konrad Morgen. After being convicted, Sommer was sent to the Eastern front, where he was wounded, losing an arm and a leg.

Note also that Steve was submerged up to his neck in human waste in an outhouse.  Where did this happen?  Dachau had flush toilets, but no outhouses.  Steve was obviously remembering what he saw in a Spielberg movie, not what he suffered at Dachau.

However, he could have sunk down into a flush toilet at Dachau because the toilets had no seat. The photo below shows a toilet in one of the cells in the bunker, a prison within the Dachau camp.

The toilets at Dachau had no seat

The toilets at Dachau had no seat


  1. Ross never mentioned specifically being hung by a tree. Only you did. In the 1945 court prosecutions, which are detailed in the following book, a Dachau prisoner instead, described being hung on a post in chains, in a shower room:

    In addition, in 1945, a priest reported that a group priests were hung by trees in Dachau:

    So now we have 3 independent people, describing hanging punishment in Dachau, two of which described immediately after the war.

    In a review of the priest’s book, in 2010, you responded:

    “Actually, “tree hanging” was the most severe punishment at Buchenwald and Dachau.”

    So in that blog, you admit that “hanging” was used at Dachau. But in this blog, you say:

    ” The “tree hanging” punishment was used at Buchenwald, not Dachau”

    Isn’t this a bit inconstant?

    However, thanks for pointing out that “Steve Ross” went on to “provides guidance and clinical services to inner-city underprivileged youth and families. He eventually achieved the level of Senior Staff Psychologist.” Not only that, but he was drafted and served in the US army, during the Korean army. His WWII experiences, drove him, to try to do good things in the world. He become an example to others, to also strive to do god in the world. So I’m glad that you wrote about him. Hopefully, you’ll find similar people to write about, that will influence people to do good in the world.

    Comment by George Miller — June 29, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

    • I looked up my previous blog post where I found this quote:
      Begin quote:
      Father Bernard then writes that the “tree hanging” punishment “is the mildest camp punishment.” Actually, “tree hanging” was the most severe punishment at Buchenwald and Dachau. It was rarely used, and only for the worst of crimes, such as sabotage in the munitions factories.
      End quote

      I will have to correct that. I was trying to point out that the tree hanging punishment was the most severe punishment, not the mildest punishment, as Father Bernard wrote. Tree hanging was invented by an SS man at Buchenwald, and I am pretty sure that it was used only at Buchenwald.
      I was trying to point out that Father Bernard told many lies about his stay at Dachau.

      On this page of my website I wrote about an exhibit in the old Dachau Museum, which shows the tree hanging punishment that was allegedly done at Dachau. That exhibit was removed when the Museum was updated. It seems that the people at Dachau were telling lies about tree hanging, which did not happen at Dachau.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 30, 2014 @ 7:01 am

      • Regarding the story about Stephen submerging himself in human waste, the article does not say that this happened in Dachau. You naturally assumed this, because the interviewer only mentioned Dachau. The interviewer should have mentioned the other camps. If you research Stephen Ross in the Boston newspaper archives, you’ll find in an interview decades ago, that he states that this event happened in a totally different camp, where he hid “himself in a pit filled with feces”. As an aside, in that same older interview, he describes that the Americans “broke down the gates of hell”. That is probably what he was trying to describe, in his latest interview. Whether the this latest interviewer misunderstood him, or whether Stephen allegoric statement about the “gates of hell”, has blurred into tanks breaking the gates down, is hard to know, given that Stephen’s actual quote is not in the newspaper. I’m glad that you understand that you appreciate that Stephen experienced a major stroke, so that perhaps he can’t remember, or describe the events, properly. Thanks for pointing that out.

        Comment by George Miller — June 30, 2014 @ 8:37 am

        • “a pit filled with feces” is shown in Schindler’s List. I don’t believe any of the “pit filled with feces” stories. I used an outhouse for the first 18 years of my life. I know what the feces in an outhouse look like. The contents in an outhouse are not liquid, that a person can sink into. It would be impossible for a person to jump down into an outhouse through the small hole and sink down. The hole in an outhouse has to be very small, so that children cannot fall into the contents.

          Comment by furtherglory — June 30, 2014 @ 10:46 am

    • I own a copy of the book Justice at Dachau, and I have quoted extensively from it on my website section about the Dachau trials:

      If you have read the entire book, you know that former Dachau prisoners were PAID by the prosecution, and given free room and board during the trial, in exchange for their lying testimony. They were not paid to testify truthfully, but to tell lies that would result in the former guards being convicted. Due to their testimony, there was a 100% conviction rate in the Dachau trials, and their lies have gone down in history as the gospel truth.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 30, 2014 @ 7:10 am

    • I have made a correction on my blog post to make it clear that the “tree hanging punishment” was used at Buchenwald. I wrote THREE blog posts about Father Bernard’s book, starting with this post:

      Follow the links at the bottom of the blog post to the next two posts about Father Bernard’s book.

      His book was made into a movie, which gives a completely different interpretation of what actually happened when Father Bernard was released from Dachau for a few days. I have tried to explain what actually happened.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 30, 2014 @ 7:42 am

  2. The American savagery towards the Germans went beyond what could be reasonably expected in the circumstances. I can understand Russians, Poles, French and the British taking it out on the Germans; they had suffered massive losses and their behaviour was within range of the expected response. But what did the Germans ever do to the Americans, that they in turn, had not already returned manifold to the Germans? The explanation seems to be a combination of propaganda, and the unmanliness of the American soldiers who could not accept that the Germans were better fighters.

    Comment by Ivan — August 11, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

    • Ivan wrote: “But what did the Germans ever do to the Americans, that they in turn, had not already returned manifold to the Germans? The explanation seems to be a combination of propaganda, and the unmanliness of the American soldiers who could not accept that the Germans were better fighters.”

      The American average citizens had 12 years of deceitful anti-German propaganda in their heads at that time. Their anti-German hate was as high as the jewish brainwashing they had just experienced for more than one decade. The lies on Nazi Germany had started from the Third Reich’s day one. As early as in March 1933 Hitler had exposed the American jewish propaganda and its numerous lies.

      “Lies and slander of positively hair-raising perversity are being launched about Germany. Horror stories of dismembered Jewish corpses, gouged-out eyes, and hacked-off hands are circulated for the purpose of defaming the German Volk in the world for a second time, just as they had succeeded in doing once before in 1914. The animosity of millions of innocent human beings, peoples with whom the German Volk wishes only to live in peace, is being stirred up by these unscrupulous criminals. […] They lie about Jewish females who have supposedly been killed; about Jewish girls allegedly being raped before the eyes of their parents; about cemeteries being ravaged! The whole thing is one big lie invented for the sole purpose of provoking a new world-war agitation!” – Adolf Hitler, March 28, 1933

      Comment by hermie — August 11, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    • Lol… “Germans we’re better fighters”
      You do realize that your Germans got beat not once but in TWO World Wars! At the end of this last disgusting display of cruelty… Why wouldn’t ANYONE who had to go half way across the world to fight a war that no one wanted but Germany and the other defeated fascist little man syndrome dictators want to hate a population of crazy? I’m too young for this but I laugh everytime someone tries to defend what happened over there. I think its sick that so many people joined in. I saw a movie in history class that tried to explain why the population of Germany followed a drug addict into a war but I just can’t understand?

      Comment by drea4700 — March 23, 2016 @ 10:42 pm

  3. An acknowledged source some of the Holocaust eyewitness testimony that’s stretches credulity. Stalags-trailer. Stalags movie website Spoiler alert. The man who wrote and published most of the Stalags was eventually appointed the first national administrator of Holocaust education in Israel!

    Comment by who dares wings — August 11, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

  4. “Note also that Steve was submerged up to his neck in human waste in an outhouse. Where did this happen?” It happened in the l975 movie Seven Beauties by Lena Wertmuller. Giancarlo Gianinni hides in a camp latrine up to his neck in excrement. In the Israeli documentary movie about Holocaust porn Stalags it’s shown how Eichmann trial witnesses testified to Nazi atrocities they’d only read about in the “Stalags,” sadomasochistic themed pulp fiction digests sold on newsstands in Tel Aviv with lurid covers appropriated from American men’s adventure mags.

    Comment by who dares wings — August 11, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    • I forgot to mention in my blog post that Steve said that he was “hung by his arms.” This was a punishment used only at Buchenwald. I have added this information to my post.

      Like Irene Zisblatt, Steve tried to get too many atrocity stories into his account, making his whole story unbelievable. Why was a 9-year-old boy shuffled around to 8 camps before being sent to Auschwitz?

      According to his story, Steve was in Dachau, starting in 1944, but there is no mention of him being sent to one of the sub-camps of Dachau to work. It is more likely that he was marched out of Auschwitz on January 18, 1945 to Gleiwitz, then sent on a train to Dachau, where he was put into one of the Kaufering sub-camps, then brought to the main camp in the last days before the camp was liberated.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 12, 2013 @ 6:44 am

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