Leon Bass was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925. He joined the US Army in 1943 and served as a member of the all-Black 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion attached to General Patton's Third Army. Leon's unit was involved in the Battle of the Bulge as well as the liberation of Buchenwald. After the war, Leon went on to receive his doctorate, teach, and speak about the Holocaust and racism.
In this interview, Leon describes the his frustration with the discord between the United State's condemnation of Nazi racism and antisemitism, in addition to the racism and segregation he and other Black soldiers faced at home in the United States.
[Interviewer]: Was is your perception though that the Black troops generally, though, fully understood the fact that, uh, while the rhetoric of the war against Nazi racism and so forth was fine. Uh, in practice, the country was doing something entirely different?
[Leon]: Oh, yes. It was as though you were schizophrenic. Our country had, was two personalities, you know. One way we made the wonderful pronouncements, you know. We, we talk about our [genre?] of Christian ethics, and we're gonna make the world a better place for democracy and all that other jazz. But then, when you cut down to the real thing and you start seeing the way that they operate. Uh, no, things were not in consonance. And so I began to be an angry, frustrated, young Black soldier.
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