Arnold Samuels

Eyewitness to the Holocaust

I just couldn’t visualize how a cultured nation could do that to other human beings. Take a look at the pictures! You say to yourself, ‘Why?’ It’s just un-understandable.

Sgt. Arnold Samuels, U.S. Army

When Arnold Samuels helped liberate the concentration camp at Dachau in 1945, the horror was deeply personal. For all he knew, some of his relatives could have been among the bodies stacked like cord wood in the courtyard.

Arnold Samuels

Samuels’ fake German ID papers when he was working behind enemy lines in Europe. Samuels’ Family Collection

Samuels had watched Nazi anti-Semitism metastasize in his homeland. In 1937, when he was 14, his family narrowly escaped to America. With the outbreak of war, the Army at first classified him as an “enemy alien.” Then it realized how valuable he was. In the Counter Intelligence Corps, one of his fellow soldiers was another German Jew, Henry Kissinger.

Arnold Samuels

Top: Samuels’ grandfather, mother and aunts, two of whom would perish in the Holocaust. Samuels’ Family Collection

Bottom: What strikes Samuels as singularly chilling is the sign above the wrought-iron gate to the inner camp at Dachau: Arbeit Macht Frei. “Work Makes [You] Free.” U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Arnold Samuels

Samuels in basic training at Camp Croft near Spartanburg, S.C., in 1943. Samuels’ Family Collection

Arnold Samuels

Left: Arnold holding a stray Dachshund the GIs dubbed “Schnapps.” Samuels’ Family Collection