by Lyle S Storey
PFC Robert Sorensen of Indendence, Missouri, (now deceased) and myself, CPL Lyle Storey, as liaison scouts for the 608th FA Bn, 71st Division, while on a scouting detail, found a concentration camp and removed the lock on the gate. This was in the Wels, Austria area and presumably a sub-camp of the Mauthausen group. The name of the town excapes me; however, I do remember the details of the camp very well and I am spending a part of May in an attempt to locate the site.
A short distance beyond the main wire gate, now unguarded, was a pile of bodies, each nothing more than bones with skin stretched tightly over them. A gentleman in civilian clothes even though we understood him to be a prisoner and perhaps a doctor approached us, accompanied by a young lad of about 11 or 12 years of age. The boy was sucking on a sliver of fat which had long lost any value as a food. The gentleman showed us a festering hole in the rear of the boys head as he asked for medical supplies. The tar-paper barracks lined the rim of a slope of about 50 ft high, at the bottom of which sat a white two story farmhouse and milk house.
I sent Sorensen with the jeep to locate some food and notify the medics of the conditions found here. I proceeded down the narrow dirt road to the farm house. As this was a hostile area, even thought the war was almost over, my anger at the conditions found in the camp overruled any caution that I should have been using.
Neither the farmer nor his wife was aware of the camp, which was quite visible from the farm house. They and their milk maid were quite frightened as I threatened to take their cows to feed the prisoners. Searching the house, I found no weapons, but did locate a "mothers medal" which I still have.
Walking back up to the camp, I found Sorensen trying to hold off the prisoners. I climbed onto the hood of the jeep and asked the gentleman if he would explain to the crown that medical help was on the way as well as food . We asked that they not go out of the compound; however, some had already left in the search of food which some had found in nearby houses. I recall one prisoner who had died with his face buried in a red, berry pie.
Looking into the empty eyes, I knew that such pleadings were not registering. We had reported the locations and knew that we were pushing our luck by staying longer; therefore, we then continued on our scouting detail. Now from what we had seen of the war to this point, one might feel that we would be numb to such sights; however, what we saw in that camp truly stunned us. The feeling is still with me, some 50 years later.
My point here is that I hope that some survivor of the camp might recognize the camp and town from the brief description. It would assist me in my search as I travel to the area in May. If you think you recognize the camp, please write to Lyle S Storey.