Dallas Peyton of Tucson, Arizona, was a member of the 70th Armored Infantry. In 1945, with other liberating troops, he entered the Dachau camp and encountered survivors and evidence of atrocities.
Most of the things I saw were so horrible that they've been blocked mentally, I guess from self-preservation or something, that I don't remember the details very much. I remember a couple of scenes very vivid. One, when we were approaching, we saw a trainload of prisoners. Turned out they were not prisoners. It was a trainload of bodies that had been sent to Dachau from Buchenwald, I presume to be, to go through the furnaces, ovens, of Dachau. That's a presumption. The other scene was in the camp grounds. I saw two of these living walking skeletons shuffling along toward each other. They got within a few yards of each other, stopped, stared at each other, and then they tried to run, and embraced. They were either related or very close friends, and until that moment neither knew the other was still alive. And yet they'd been in that same prison for who knows how long. Those two scenes I remember very vivid, but a lot of the others I don't.
What was the context of the Holocaust and World War II at the time of the events described in this eyewitness testimony?
How do oral histories differ from other primary sources such as artifacts, documents, and photographs? What can we learn from different types of primary sources?
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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