Compassion from American Servicemen

"The nightmare was over."

"So we were sitting there, we started [to] crazily dance. First of all we were shocked. We were free. It was over. The nightmare was over. And we couldn’t react to it. One of them, all of a sudden dancing and jumping up and down in the hay. We were up there screaming and dancing. Okay? And a couple hours passed by and I decided well, we have to find out what it is, what it means, are we free? Can we go? What’s going on?

So they picked me as a scout to go in to the village and find out what’s going on. The reason they picked me is because I always bragged about [how] I used to love American movies. I used to go to American movies whenever they played in the neighborhood. And I used to brag about them so they felt I probably speak English. The only thing I knew in English is 'I love you,' and 'Goodbye, darling.' How was that going to help me? They didn’t care. They sent me in to the village.

And I came into the village and the village square in the village of Hebertsfelden. There were American soldiers sitting around mostly on their helmets or leaning against the tanks or the jeeps. And they were eating. What they were eating--. I thought they were eating Napoleons. You know what a Napoleon pastry is? It has cream inside. But what they were eating was processed cheese between crackers from C-rations. I didn’t know. I never saw a C-ration. I never saw processed cheese. To me they were eating Napoleons. This is what the army was doing! And
I was walking around, and I was wearing the concentration camp uniform. I was all of eighty pounds. Haggard. Dirty. Totally confused. Not knowing. I didn’t know how to assess my situation.

Until one of the soldiers called to me in broken- German from an American army book, how to speak German, and he said, 'Kommen sie hier.' [Translation: Come here] And I went over to him and so he started asking me who am, so I said, 'I’m Polish..' I was unsure it was safe to say you were Jewish yet. Okay? I knew what happened to Jews. I knew what happened to you if you said you were Jewish. So I said I’m Polish.

So he started yelling, 'Come over here. There’s a Polack here.' Okay? Called the Polish-speaking soldier. And they came to me and asked me in Polish. And I tried to tell them as best I could where I was, who I was, what happened. And he translated that to the other fellas. And they started, you know, giving me food. They saw what I look like, emaciated. And they gave me K-rations and C-rations, and they loaded ‘em in my hand. And I just couldn’t hold all this. They-. Stuff start falling off my arms, rolling down the pavement. And I started to cry-- first time I shed tears in years. Because here was a life-giving food. I was losing it. It was falling away from me. And... they got on their knees. They put the food in a backpack and handed it to me. And that was the first act of compassion, first act of kindness for a uniformed individual, shown to me in six years. And there was a surge of like light, of hope. You know, that maybe this is the end of our suffering. And maybe there’s a good future for us."