The horrors of the Nazi murder camps were vividly brought home to S/Sgt M. A. Tuftedal, Roseland soldier, late in April when he visited one of the camps and saw with his own eyes the shocking evidences of Nazi bestiality. Sgt Tuftedal, who was slightly wounded some months ago in the European area, describes the sights which met his eyes as almost unbelievable. He is a son of Mr and Mrs M. Tuftedal. A letter, which he wrote to the index, reads, in part, as follows :
I am again back in Germany, I have been moving around quite a bit and even with that and also the many different addresses your papers are coming to me regular. I really enjoy receiving them. I had the chance not long ago of going through a German Concentration Camp. It was one of the most horrible sights I have ever seen. You have probably read quite a bit about these places already.
The people of a nearby town claimed they knew nothing about what was going on inside this camp. This may be true but us GI’s have doubts. Anyway for their unwillingness to believe it the US Army did one of the best things I have ever seen done to my way of thinking. They forced every one out of their homes from this town and made them go completely through the concentration camp and see what atrocities their beloved Hitler was doing not only in this camp but many other camps also.
I was watching the reactions on the civilians and I for one did not think it affected every one of them. True, though, some women fainted and others cried. I will try and describe everything I saw as I went through it.
This camp was under complete control of Hitler’s SS troops. Upon entering this camp you first see a 15-foot barbed wire fence which was electrically charged. The gate was a huge arch shaped affair and at the top of this arch was a big black flag and right beneath this flag was a sign which read Recht oder Unrecht, mein Vaterland means Right or Wrong, my Fatherland. Passing through the gates you see a mass of barracks of which we would ordinarily house about 25 to 30 men. We went into one of these barracks and there was at least 150 people in there. There were three layers of shelves on each side of the room and each shelf held about 20 to 25 people. They were just a mass of skin and bones and the odor was almost unbearable. Some of the people had laid on those boards for three and four weeks and unable to rise up from weakness.
We next went down to their so-called hospital which was even more crowded then the previous barracks. They were brought to this hospital after they were so weak from hunger and work that they could hardly move. Some of them were used for medical experiments. The sights of some of the experiments were unbelievable and was enough to turn anyone’s stomachs. To see it you would think you were having a nightmare and that only a mad man could do such atrocities. Some two million people were killed in the camp alone in a period of three years. They had as high as 50 thousand people in this camp at one time. When they had no more use for these people they were taken to the torture area and killed. I will tell you more about this area later. While in this hospital we saw one man whose suffering was ending. Yes, he died right in front of us. The people told us that the only lucky ones were the ones that were killed right after coming to the camp as they had little suffering to go through. Every nationality was present in this camp.
Next we went to the torture area. This area was in the middle of the camp and was completely fenced in with high boarded fence. Upon going into this area the first thing we saw was a person hanging by the neck from a beam. We went into the cellar of the house in this area and on the wall was dozens of hooks with rope attached to them and the end of the ropes either had a loop to fit over the head or had another sharp hook that was inserted into the roof of the mouth. On the floor were several small stools upon which the victim stood while one of the above devices was placed on him, then the stool was kicked out from under the person and I need not say the rest. At the far end of this room was an elevator which carried the dead person up to the crematorium on the next floor.
Up in the crematorium we met Miss Margaret Bourke White, a photographer from Life and Time magazines. She took several pictures of us in front of the ovens for historical purposes as well as for the magazines back home. She told us that a lot of the people over here as well as back home thought all of this was propaganda. I never believed all of it either until I actually saw it. She said that with some GI’s in the picture, it may convince some more people that these atrocities are actually going on over here. She took several pictures of the remains of several bodies that were left in the ovens yet. Next we went outside the crematorium to a courtyard where we saw dead bodies piled like cord wood against the wall to be taken inside. There was about 200 in this pile plus about 150 that were piled in a wagon. Miss White took several more pictures of us in front of these piles for evidence, etc.
We next went into a big hall which was partitioned off into small operating rooms or what I would call torture chambers. They had hundreds of different types of devices for torturing the victims. No matter what kind of a device you can think of you would surely find one there. This about completes everything I saw there. I only wish they could take every person through these camps so they could actually see for themselves, people at home as well as the people in Germany. The people at home then could see with their own eyes that it surely wasn’t propaganda, that is most of it, and perhaps the war could end a little sooner. The people in Germany could then see how wonderful their beloved Nazis are. Naturally that is my own opinion and more gifted writers could tell what I have seen better than I, but I have just tried to tell you what I saw with my own two eyes and you can judge for yourself.