I recently heard a prayer offered by one of the men in our congregation who closed by asking very eloquently for the safety of “the ones who stand between us and those who would do us harm.” I’ve thought a lot about those words lately. Of course, it is no secret that I have a tremendous respect for our military and their families, past, present, and future, and yes, even for those boys who wore the gray for four long years.
Gail Anthony Youngdale gave me a copy of the following letter forwarded by her father, Boyd Anthony, to her mom, Stella, and I decided that now is a good time to once again remind ourselves of things endured by the men and women who stand between us and those who would do us harm. The following was published in the Comanche Chief on June 22, 1945.
I warn you…it is graphic.
“Somewhere in Germany, April 26, 1945
This is a reproduction of a letter written by one of the lads who is in the outfit and made a visit to the concentration camp at Buchenwald, which I am sending to you, as I think the people back home should know of some of the conditions that exist in this country. You have read about this in the papers believing it was all propaganda, but it is all truth…
Germany is a nation without a conscience and without a soul…so has the individual German become a person without a conscience and without a soul. And when a nation or an individual loses its conscience and its soul, then that nation ceases to be a human creation and reverts to the level of the savage beast…
I have gone through the concentration camp at Buchenwald. I wish that I could just make that flat statement and let it go at that, but if I did, I would be a traitor to everything that I hold dear and to every principle in which I believe…
We got one of the inmates of the camp to take us through. They seem glad to do it and their entire attitude is one of wanting to bring home to the world the beastilty of the German. The boy was an Austrian, 23 years old. His mother and father were killed in this camp. He was a pitiful spectacle whose every movement was a study in animation. First, we saw some of the instruments of torture that were used. The wracks in which a man’s back was broken and the whipping post whereon a man was spread-eagled, his feet barely off the ground and flogged by a well-fed, husky SS trooper. These were only minor things compared to the rest.
We went to the crematorium, a building with a dozen or more furnaces in it…The doors on the furnaces were open, and we saw bones in some and in some partially burned bodies. And we were told that many of those burned were not yet dead. If a person was ill, they would let him alone for two days, and if at the end of two days he was still not on his feet, into a furnace he would go, dead or alive, it made no difference. And the smell of death and decomposition were overpoweringly present in that room…I shuddered when I saw it, and I shudder still….”
Because I’m a 21st century sissy, I’m going to let you read the rest of the very long article on your own. I’m sure a copy can be found in the Comanche Public Library.