KCBS Special Report: 'The Liberator And The Liberated'

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — In 1986, KCBS broadcast a special report entitled The Liberator and the Liberated. It told the stories of two Bay Area men from very different places, thrown together by fate as World War II wound down.

Eddy Wynschenk was a Jewish teenager from Amsterdam imprisoned by the Nazis; Bob Clark was an Iowan who thought he’d done his military time but was forced into continued service after Pearl Harbor Day.

KCBS is re-broadcasting the piece on Saturday, April 11 to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation that saved Eddy Wynschenk’s life and forever marked Bob Clark’s.

SCROLL DOWN FOR HANDWRITTEN LETTER, TRANSCRIPT, POWERFUL BUT DISTURBING PHOTOS, AND LINKS TO ORGANIZATIONS
Part 1: “The Liberator and the Liberated”

Part 2: “The Liberator and the Liberated”

On April 11, 1945, the 104th Infantry Division entered the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp complex [also known as Nordhausen] in Germany’s Thuringia region. Mittelbau-Dora was established in late summer 1943 as a subcamp of the Buchenwald camp supplying labor for extending the nearby tunnels in the Kohnstein and for manufacturing the V-2 rocket and V-1 flying bomb.

In total, around 60,000 prisoners passed through the Mittelbau camps between August 1943 and March 1945. The precise number of people killed is impossible to determine. The SS files counted around 12,000 dead. In addition, an unknown number of unregistered prisoners died or were murdered in the camps.

Rows of bodies of dead inmates fill the yard of Lager Nordhausen, a Gestapo concentration camp. (Photo Credit: National Archives)

Rows of bodies of dead inmates fill the yard of Lager Nordhausen, a Gestapo concentration camp. (Photo Credit: National Archives)

An American soldier and medical officer view the bodies of prisoners lying on the ground in a barracks in the Nordhausen concentration camp. (Photo Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

An American soldier and medical officer view the bodies of prisoners lying on the ground in a barracks in the Nordhausen concentration camp. (Photo Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

For More On The Mittelbau-Dora Camp:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorial Foundation

Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team

The 104th was known as the “Timberwolves” and for many years, its members, the National Timberwolf Association held an annual convention. Bob Clark was President of the organization in 1986 when Eddy Wyschenk and another man liberated from Mittelbau-Dora, spoke to the group in San Francisco.  The annual conventions ended after a final gathering in 2010, but a successor organization, the National Timberwolf Pups Association now holds annual gatherings to pay homage to the men of the 104th Infantry.

Bob Clark's family, taken on September 23, 1945. (Photo Credit: Kathy Clark, Bob Clark.s daughter)

Bob Clark’s family, taken on September 23, 1945. (Photo Credit: Kathy Clark, Bob Clark.s daughter)

 

Letter written by Bob Clark to his wife after the liberation.  (Photo Credit: Kathy Clark, Bob Clark's daughter)

Letter written by Bob Clark to his wife after the liberation. (Photo Credit: Kathy Clark, Bob Clark’s daughter)

In April of 1945, Clark wrote a letter to his wife attempt to describe the horrors which he had seen. Here is the transcription of of the letter seen above.

13 Apr 45

No 5

Darling: Well, we returned to regiment yesterday after a most interesting experience with the 3rd Armored. We were working on a flank & so regiment was about 40 miles ahead of us to the south. We’ll soon be on the move again, I’m sure.

I saw a sight today in this good sized city that one must see to believe. We saw in a concentration camp the bodies of 3200 people who had been starved to death. They had removed the ones still alive yesterday before we arrived, but they say most of them were unable to raise themselves from the ground. Those living were in with the dead-living in the same holes in the ground; in the same shacks. One of our advance field hospitals which is equipped to handle 45 patients is trying to take care of the 800 or so who were carried out alive.

About 80% of those in the camp were Russians & the rest were Poles, Slavs and a few French. Most were men but there were a few women & children. I saw some who had been removed from the camp & they looked no better than the dead. It’s impossible to describe the bodies of these starved individuals. It’s something I’ll always remember.

We heard about Roosevelt’s death today.

I have to go up & receive an order so will end.

I love you,

Bob

Bob Clark died at 90 in September 2003 at home in Greenbrae. Eddy Wynschenk died at 76 in December 2003 in San Mateo County.

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