As U.S. soldiers approached a gravel road leading toward a concentration camp in Ebensee, Austria, they saw masses of humans who stood sickly and starving.
On May 6, 1945, the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron — now Fort Hood’s 3rd Cavalry Regiment — rescued those prisoners.
“The 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron entered Ebensee, Austria, where about 16,000 prisoners were being detained and hadn’t been fed for about three days,” said Harvey Reed, executive director for the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Association.
Tuesday marked the 69th anniversary of the liberation.
“The concentration camp at Ebensee proved to be the greatest difficulty as food and medical attention from corps was slow in arriving,” according to an after action report filed by the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. “It was not until (May 8) that corps initiated aid in the care and feeding of the prisoners.”
Reed said the squadron took care of the prisoners and remained in the area caring for them until a medical unit arrived.
Some of those survivors rescued during that mission are still alive, but that number is dwindling. In late March, Bernard Adler, who was liberated by the Fort Hood unit, died in Riverdale, N.Y. He was 93.
Scott Hamric, director of the 3rd Cavalry Museum, said it’s important for the history of the Holocaust to be preserved.
“It was an example of one of the most savage, inhumane programs perpetrated on any group of people in history and it was done on an industrial scale,” he said. “Gen. (Dwight) Eisenhower ordered that all of these things be photographed and filmed and documented because he predicted someday, people are going to say this never really happened.”
Hamric said the documentation provides proof of the atrocities.
“Hopefully by making people aware of how terrible it was, we can prevent it,” he said. “There have been other genocides and things have gone on since WWII but I don’t think any of them have been on the scale like the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis.”