TwitterFacebook

The Granite of Mauthausen

• Views: 1,532

LGF reader
Personalized Towels Shirts Varsity Jackets”>Ronnie Schreiber
posted this powerful letter by Fred Friendly, who would become the president of CBS News, written in 1945 when he was a master sergeant with the American Army unit that liberated the Mauthausen concentration camp.

***

May 19, 1945

Dear Mother,

In just a few days I will be in an airplane on my way back to the APO to which you write me. Before I leave Europe, I must write this letter and attempt to convey to you that which I saw, felt and gasped at as I saw a war and a frightened peace stagger into a perilous existence. I have seen a dead Germany. If it is not dead it is certainly ruptured beyond repair. I have seen the beer hall where the era of the inferno and hate began and as I stood there in the damp moist hall where Nazidom was spawned, I heard only the dripping of a bullet-pierced beer barrel and the ticking of a clock which had already run out the time of the bastard who made the Munich beer hall a landmark. I saw the retching vomiting of the stone and mortar which had once been listed on maps as Nurnheim, Regensberg, Munich, Frankfurt, Augusburg, Lintz, and wondered how a civilization could ever again spring from cities so utterly removed from the face of the earth by weapons the enemy taught us to use at Coventry and Canterbury. I have met the German, have examined the storm trooper, his wife and his heritage of hate, and I have learned to hate - almost with as much fury as the G.I. who saw his buddy killed at the Bulge, almost as much as the Pole from Bridgeport who lost 100 pounds at Mauthausen, Austria. I have learned now and only now that this war had to be fought. I wish I might have done more. I envy with a bottomless spirit the American soldier who may tell his grandchildren that with his hands he killed Germans.

That which is in my heart now I want you and those dear to us know and yet I find myself completely incapable of putting it into letter form. I think if I could sit down in our living room or the den at 11 President, I might be able to convey a poertion of the dismal, horrible and yet titanic mural which is Europe today. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that for months or maybe a year, and by then the passing of time may dim the memory. Some of the senses will live just so long as I do - some of the sounds, like the dripping beer, like the firing of a Russian tommy gun, will always bring back the thought of something I may try to forget, but never will be able to do.

For example, when I go to the Boston Symphony, when I hear waves of applause, no matter what the music is, I shall be traveling back to a town near Lintz where I heard applause unequalled in history, and where I was allowed to see the ordeal which our fellow brothers and sisters of the human race have endured. To me Poland is no longer the place where Chopin composed, or where a radio station held out for three weeks - to me Poland is a place from which the prisoners of Mauthausen came. When I think of the Czechs, I will think of those who were butchered here, and that goes for the Jews, the Russians, Austrians, the people of 15 different lands, - yes, even the Germans who passsed through this Willow Run of death. This was Mauthausen. I want you to remember the word… I want you to know, I want you to never forget or let our disbelieving friends forget, that your flesh and blood saw this. This was no movie. No printed page. Your son saw this with his own eyes and in doing this aged 10 years.

Mauthausen was built with a half-million rocks which 150,000 prisoners - 18,000 was the capacity - carried up on their backs from a quarry 800 feet below. They carried it up steps so steep that a Captain and I walked it once and were winded, without a load. They carried granite and made 8 trips a day… and if they stumbled, the S.S. men pushed them into the quarry. There are 285 steps, covered with blood. They called it the steps of death. I saw the shower room (twice or three times the size of our bathroom), a chamber lined with tile and topped with sprinklers where 150 prisoners at a time were disrobed and ordered in for a shower which never gushed forth from the sprinklers because the chemical was gas. When they ran out of gas, they merely sucked all of the air out of the room. I talked to the Jews who worked in the crematory, one room adjacent, where six and seven bodies at a time were burned. They gave these jobs to the Jews because they all died anyhow, and they didn’t want the rest of the prisoners to know their own fate. The Jews knew theirs, you see.

I saw the living skeletons, some of whom regardless of our medical corps work, will die and be in piles like that in the next few days. Malnutrition doesn’t stop the day that food is administered. Don’t get the idea that these people here were all derelicts, all just masses of people… some of them were doctors, authors, some of them American citizens. A scattered few were G.I.s. A Navy lieutenant still lives to tell the story. I saw where they lived; I saw where the sick died, three and four in a bed, no toilets, no nothing. I saw the look in their eyes. I shall never stop seeing the expression in the eyes of the anti-Franco former prisoners who have been given the job of guarding the S.S. men who were captured.

And how does the applause fit in? Mother, I walked through countless cell blocks filled with sick, dying people - 300 in a room twice the size of our living room as as we walked in - there was a ripple of applause and then an inspiring burst of applause and cheers, and men who could not stand up sat and whispered - though they tried to shout it - Vive L’Americansky… Vive L’Americansky… the applause, the cheers, those faces of men with legs the size and shape of rope, with ulcerated bodies, weeping with a kind of joy you and I will never, I hope, know. Vive L’Americansky… I got a cousin in Milwaukee… We thought you guys would come… Vive L’Americansky… Applause… gaunt, hopeless faces at last filled with hope. One younger man asked something in Polish which I could not understand but I did detect the word “Yit”… I asked an interpreter what he said - The interpreter blushed and finally said, “He wants to know if you are a Jew.” When I smiled and stuck out my mitt and said “yes”… he was unable to speak or show the feeling that was in his heart. As I walked away, I suddenly realized that this had been the first time I had shaken hands with my right hand. That, my dear, was Mauthausen.

I will write more letter in days to come. I want to write one on the Russians. I want to write and tell you how I sat next to Patton and Tolbukhin at a banquet at the Castle of Franz Josef. I want to write and tell you how the Germans look in defeat, how Munich looked in death, but those things sparkle with excitement and make good reading. This is my Mauthausen letter. I hope you will see fit to let Bill Braude and the folks read it. I would like to think that all the Wachenheimers and all the Friendlys and all our good Providence friends would read it. Then I want you to put it away and every Yom Kippur I want you to take it out and make your grandchildren read it.

For, if there had been no America, we, all of us, might well have carried granite at Mauthausen.

All my love,
F.F.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
For about 33 cents a day (per month) or 22 cents a day (per year), our subscription option turns off all advertisements at LGF!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.

Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.

Last updated: 2014-03-07 2:19 pm PST

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
Randall Gross
Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025
Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025: world premiere of the spectacular study of tomorrow's trucks - autonomous driving into an exciting future From a vision to reality - the spectacular Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 study will be providing a visually exciting ...

34 minutes ago
Views: 56 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
FemNaziBitch
Attn: The Youth Vote: 10 Reasons It Matters Even More Than You Think
The 2014 midterms are on the horizon... FacebookShare Mail Want More?! 10. 21 percent (46 million) of all eligible voters in 2012 were 18-29 years old. By 2020, young voters will boast about 90 million eligible voters. More: Attn: ...

10 hours, 11 minutes ago
Views: 97 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 0
Lumberhead
Eric Holder Blew It as Attorney General. His Replacement Will Too. - the Week
The best thing about Eric Holder's time as the U.S. attorney general was that he was the first one in decades to really care about civil rights. The worst thing was, well basically everything else. Holder, who yesterday announced ...

1 day, 1 hour ago
Views: 197 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
HamSandwich
Activist who urged killing Israelis nominated for top EU award
Alaa Abdel Fattah, 32, an Egyptian blogger and political activist, has been arrested numerous times by Egyptian authorities since the eruption of a popular revolution in the country in early 2011. Abdel Fattah, who boasts 626,000 followers on Twitter ...

1 day, 9 hours ago
Views: 185 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Rightwingconspirator
Visiting Mt Wilson And It’s Dramatic Weather
All taken just yesterday. Canon 7D and a Tamron lens. The clouds ripping through were just amazing. And some stunning Fall color in unexpected places

1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 191 • Comments: 5
Tweets: 2 • Rating: 6
Souliren
Dropkick Murphys - Celtic punk from the USA?
I never heard of these guys until a half hour ago. Apparently they are famous. A Celtic punk band from Massachusetts? There is art here. The Rose Tattoo I'm shipping up to Boston.

3 days, 12 hours ago
Views: 434 • Comments: 17
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 5
CriticalDragon1177
Secular Talk - Limbaugh’s Sidekick: Segregation Was The ‘Good Ole’ Days’ (Video)
KYle Kulinski, exposes the stupidity of "Snerdley,"

5 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 774 • Comments: 12
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
darthstar
Darth offered cup of virtual coffee after snark
Yep. There it is. littlegreenfootballs.com

6 days ago
Views: 549 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 2 • Rating: 5
Ryan King
Fox article comments full of racism on Facebook
Fox is no different from Breitbart or Dim Hoft; their business model is to titilate hatred and bigotry with the right kind of 'journalism' and let the minions hurr durr durr. This happens all the time. Arrest Warrant Charges Man ...

6 days, 1 hour ago
Views: 682 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 2 • Rating: 4
aagcobb
Three Reasons Why New Zealand Has the Best-Designed Government in the World - Vox
Dylan Matthews, Vox: Three Reasons Why New Zealand Has the Best-Designed Government in the World - Vox New Zealand has the most democratic government in the world because it has a well-designed electoral system of mixed district and proportional ...

6 days, 14 hours ago
Views: 615 • Comments: 6
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
 Frank says:

The essence of Christianity is told us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions. -- Playboy Interview, April 1993