Oral History

Harold Herbst describes meeting a prisoner on the verge of death (known as a "Muselmann") in Buchenwald

After studying medicine at Wayne State University in Michigan, Harold joined the army in 1942. He was attached to the 107th Evacuation Hospital. The unit trained in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and then tracked the US First Army after the June 1944 Normandy invasion. Harold was attached to the US Third Army under George S. Patton in December. He went to Buchenwald shortly after the SS guards fled the camp in April 1945.


One of the most memorable parts of that particular time that I walked through these barracks and walked around barracks, I was walking to the back of the barracks just to see what was back there. And as I walked by a little window that probably was one foot square or thereabouts, I heard a voice and I turned around and I saw a living skeleton talk to me...was talking to me, and he said, "Thank God the Americans have come." And that was a funny feeling. Did you ever talk to a skeleton that talked back? And that's what you...what I was doing. And later on I saw mounds of these living...I mean, these skeletons that the Germans left behind them.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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