Someone should be there on this particular Holocaust Remembrance Day (how many are there now?) to ask Dee Eberhart about Lt. Jack Bushyhead, a US Army officer responsible for the machine murder of 520 unarmed German POWs the day Dachau was liberated. The acting commandant had surrendered the entire camp. So Lt. Bushyhead had invalids frog marched out of the camp SS hospital, lined them up alongside the guards against a wall, and had them all shot on the spot. They might also want to ask Mr. Eberhart exactly how the three Dachau ovens he saw were used to "kill masses of people."
By JAMES JOYCE III
GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic
Dee Eberhart saw firsthand the horror of the Dachau concentration camp
in World War II. Eberhart was a private first class in the 42nd
Infantry Division, which liberated the camp April 29, 1945. He will speak for Holocaust Remembrance Day at Central Washington University on Monday.
As a 20-year-old, Dee Eberhart lived through something that would
change his outlook forever. Though the experience lasted only a few hours, the images remain vivid in his mind nearly 61 years later.
Eberhart, now 81, served as a first scout in France, Germany and
Austria from 1944 through 1945 with the U.S. Army. On April 29, 1945, his platoon was attached to the 1st Battalion 222nd Infantry for the attack
against Munich, Germany. It was in the late morning or early afternoon of
that day when the soldiers arrived at a large SS compound and
concentration camp complex in Dachau, Germany.
There, Eberhart recalls seeing "a lot of visible atrocities." He
remembers seeing thousands of dead bodies stacked up, three ovens used to kill masses of people â€” mostly Jewish â€” and the aftereffects of torture.
"For a guy that thought I was pretty hardened to combat, to stumble
onto the mess at Dachau, I wasn't ready for that," he said in a recent
telephone interview from his Ellensburg home.
Eberhart participated in the liberation of the brutal Nazi
concentration camp in southern Germany, where an estimated 32,000 people were killed.
On Monday evening, Eberhart, a 1943 graduate of Toppenish High School
and Central Washington University professor emeritus of geography, will
share his experience and provide some analysis on the Holocaust before
a group at CWU on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"I will try to give not just personal war stories, but try to illustrate my particular take on what happened during the 20th century, which is
in my mind without a doubt the most awful century in history," Eberhart
His talk will look at three elements of the Holocaust: the rise of the
Nazis, the victims and the Allies.
But before Eberhart provides his perspective, Ariel Jacobson, the
president of Central's Jewish student organization, will give a brief
history of the Holocaust and the day of remembrance.
The Holocaust refers to the systematic killings of 6 million Jews and
millions of non-Jews by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany between 1933 and
"People always think that something like the Holocaust only happens
once," Jacobson said. "The idea is to learn from the past. Things like the
Holocaust, on a smaller scale, do still go on."
Jacobson said Eberhart's perspective will be valuable for her,
especially because she's from a Jewish community and most of her knowledge comes from survivors.
"It will be really interesting to get a different perspective," she
said. "Most people who want to know about the Holocaust ask survivors. But when you're seeing it from the soldiers' perspective, you are getting
more of an overall picture of what was going on.
"They saw firsthand the conditions that their fellow human beings were
The event is free and open to the public. Event organizers are hoping
to attract people who want to learn more about what actually happened
during the war.
"The best way to not have it repeated is to get educated about it,"