Charles Torluccio is a veteran of the 11th Armored Division. During the invasion of German-held Austria, in May 1945 the 11th Armored (the "Thunderbolt" division) overran two of the largest Nazi concentration camps in the country: Mauthausen and Gusen.
I remember that there were piles and piles of corpses there, and also that there was a lot of hustling around, and nurses, which never got a lot of credit for it, the nurses and the doctors. The nurses done an awful terrific job there. They cleaned all of those patients and they deloused them, and they took and emptied a couple of the barracks and deloused them, and after they got done cleaning up the patients they moved them into those and burned a lot of the other buildings. No, I hadn't had any idea what the camps were like, however, the first prisoners that we saw were on April 23, and they were being marched from Flossenbürg to Mauthausen. We cut off the march and we liberated the prisoners. And after I come home I read in the paper that they were interviewing a man and he was signing books that he wrote, fellow by the name of George Topaz, and he wrote The Iron Curtain, and we went up when he signed the book, and I just stood there, and he saw 11th Armored Division patch and he had a smile from ear to ear and we have become friends. He did say to me, "I'm not too sure whether the day was the 22nd or the 23rd," he said, "when you guys liberated us on that march." I said, "I know right well what day it was," I said, "I can tell you the exact day." He said, "How do you know?" I said, "Because it was my 19th birthday."
What was the context of the Holocaust and World War II at the time of the events described here?
What other source materials might be helpful to provide more historical context for this eyewitness testimony? What aspects of the history might these other source materials help reveal?
How can personal testimonies and oral histories provide insights into the challenges Allied forces faced when encountering and documenting the evidence of atrocities?
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