Some of you know me as a professional lobbyist and indeed I have been one for thirty-two years. However, few know of my personal experience with the Holocaust in Germany during World War II. When the war came, I was eager to be in it, and in fact, enlisted and volunteered for infantry.
In due course I found myself a casualty during the Battle of The Bulge. I became a Prisoner Of War. I will not attempt to describe those combat conditions in December of 1944, the "Ardennes Snow March," four days and nights jammed into box cars with no food or water (and being bombed by your own Air Force in the process). Suffice it to say, I, along with several thousand other GI's, found myself entering the gates of Stalag IXB, Bad Orb, Germany, on December 26.
Stalag IXB was a very primitive camp, housing several thousand Russian, Serbian, and French soldiers. It was reserved for Privates and Privates First Class only. In the American compound there were no American officers, except a Protestant, a Catholic chaplain, and a dentist. There were no medical facilities, no sanitary services, no heat, and not much grass soup. Men died every day.
You may wonder how the Nazis identified the Jewish GIs. The answer is that they volunteered such fact. Frankly, it is something that I never understood to this day. Was it done as an affirmation of their culture and religion? Was it done out of naivete? Was it done out of a false sense that because they were American soldiers, ... that it would protect them? After forty-six years I still do not know. What I do know is that it happened. Demonstrating once again the enormous capacity of some to impose the cruelest of punishment on others, solely because of difference of race, religion, nationality, or culture.
Those Jewish GIs in Stalag IXB may have thought they would be exempt from the Nazi Holocaust. They were not, and their fate should never be forgotten.
(Ed. note: Dick Lockhart began a long career in journalism and lobbying in the mid 1950s, starting his own lobbying firm, Social Engineering Associates in 1958.)
There is an inscription in a World War II cemetery that reads... " When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrow, we gave our today."