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THE RARE BREED
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II

Claude Hill Was There When
First Nazi Death Camp Found


Claude Hill, 1945 in Germany

Florence Hill, widow of World War II veteran Claude Hill, brought in several 57-year-old photographs her husband had taken at the Nordhausen, Germany ³starvation² camp on April 12, 1945, when he was a medic with the 750th Tank Battalion of the 104tth Infantry Division, known as the ³Timberwolves.²

The Hills moved to Palacios (from Ganado) in 1962 and resided here until shortly before his death at a Corpus Christi nursing home on April 10, 2000.

Along with the pictures, Mrs. Hill brought several items, handwritten letters (still quite legible), pamphlets, records, souvenirs, etc., of her husband¹s long tour with the Timberwolves. Hill¹s photographs taken at Nordhausen offer a somber and sickening proof of the bestiality man had committed against fellow mankind‹ a reminder that should never be forgotten.

Stephen Ambrose wrote in his ³Citizen Soldiers² book which trailed the U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the surrender of Germany, that Nordhausen‹ reached by the 3rd Armored Division on April 11, 1945‹ was the first slave labor, or death camp, discovered by American troops. Over the next couple of weeks many other camps were found‹including those with the more familiar names of Auschwitz, Dachau, Belsen and Buchenwald. The scenes were mostly all the same.

When American soldiers entered the Nordhausen camp, they thought three large stacks they saw were just wastepaper and garbage piled in rows six feet high and 400 feet long‹ until parts of one stack started moving. Some of the prisoners, with little flesh on their bones, were still alive.

³These were sights I¹ll never forget,² Hill said in his letter to his wife, about finding what he called ³the starvation camp,² the slave laborers¹ remains and his visit to the nearby underground rocket factories. Hill wrote that the prisoners had been forced to work in the V-1 and V-2 rocket factories until they starved.

After the discovery of the remains, every civilian in Nordhausen was ordered to work around the clock until the bodies were buried in a mass grave.

Lt. Hugh Carey, who later became governor of New York, was at Nordhausen on April 11, 1945. Thirty years later he wrote: ³I stood with American soldiers at Nordhausen. I inhaled the stench of death, and the barbaric, calculated cruelty. I made a vow as I stood there that as long as a live, I will fight for peace, for the rights of mankind and against any form of hate, bias and prejudice.²


American troops discovered hundreds of skeleton remains of slave laborers in stacks when they reached the Nordhausen, Germany ³starvation² camp on April 11, 1945. The prisoners had been forced to work in the nearby underground V-1 and V-2 rocket factories until they starved. A few prisoners were found still alive in some of the stacks. Claude Hill took this picture when he was at the camp on April 12, 1945.


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