Early Life

Becoming a Soldier

Preparing for D-Day

D-Day and Breakout

Battle of the Bulge

German Concentration Camps


Concentration Camp Inmates

Returning Home



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(interviewer) This is Thomas (s/l Nockham)
with the National World War II Museum.
Today I’m with Mr. Arthur Seltzer.
And for the record, please tell me your full name.
(Arthur Seltzer) My name is Arthur Seltzer.
(interviewer) And when and where were you born?
(Arthur) I was born in Norfolk,
Virginia, on December 9, 1923.
(interviewer) Tell me your
recollections of the Great Depression.
(Arthur) As far as the Depression, I was a youngster.
And my father owned a broom factory in
Norfolk, Virginia, where I was born.
And we came to Philadelphia.
My mother got homesick, since she lived in Philadelphia.
And my father actually made a lot of money
in the broom factory which he sold.
And when he came to Philadelphia,
he took very sick.
And he was in the hospital.
And my mother came to visit him quite often.
And the last time she came to visit him, my
father said, “When you come tomorrow, make
sure you go to the bank first and
draw all our money out of the bank.”
Now, we’re talking about ‘28, ‘29 at that time.
And my mother, naturally, being good, the
bank first—please go to the bank—but when
she got there, it was too late,
because all the banks were closed.
And my father and mother lost just about everything
they had made from their broom factory, which
was quite a lot of money.
And they had to start over again.
So being a youngster at that time, naturally
they couldn’t afford to give me the things
that children would get, although I seem
to have grown up to be pretty well-off.
So that’s just what I can remember about the Depression.
I know it was very hard for my parents at
that time, naturally, having three children
and trying to support them.
(interviewer) What were you doing before the war started?
(Arthur) Well, before the war started, naturally I
was going to Olney High School
in Philadelphia, where we lived.
And I was involved, and I was a football player,
I played basketball, and I also played tennis.
I played three sports which I won letters with.
And I also was in the a cappella choir, and
I performed in quite a few shows that the
school put on at that time.
After graduating from Olney High, naturally my
parents couldn’t afford to send my brother,
who was older than I was, and myself to college.
But I happened to see a full-page ad in the
Evening Bulletin, which was a Philadelphia
paper, that the Signal Corps was looking for
people that they would send to college.
If they were drafted, would go into the Signal Corps.
I went down to 5000 Wissahickon Avenue, where
the Signal Corps was located, and took the
examination, and I passed.
And I was sent to the University of
Pittsburgh, where I finished one year.
And then I was drafted into the Army in February of 1943.
I was at eighteen years of age when I was drafted.
(interviewer) Tell me more about the training you received
once you were drafted.
(Arthur) When I was drafted into the Army, naturally
I had received a lot of letters of
commendation from the Signal Corps.
And I went to Indiantown Gap, where
I was inducted at that time.
And naturally, when I arrived there, I started
off by saying, “I want to be in the Signal Corps.”
And some guy with a lot of stripes told me
that, “You don’t even have a uniform yet.
Why don’t you wait and see until we give
you a uniform and you take tests and all.”
I said, “Well, I have all these letters.”
And naturally, I was very impatient.
And finally, I decided to wait.
Anyway, after I was inducted into the unit,
I’d say about a week later, we were loaded
onto a train.
And I was thought I was going to Fort Monmouth,
New Jersey, which is the Signal Corps school.
And as the train took off, I seemed
to think the train was heading west.
And I knew I wasn’t going to New Jersey.
And then I said, oh, I must be going to Fort
Monmouth, New Jersey, which is—I’m sorry,
to Camp Crowder, which was the other Signal
Corps school, which is located out west.
Well, later the train was headed south.
And I figured, gee, this is not good.
And about a few days later, the train pulled in.
And as I looked out the window, I see this big sign.
“Home of the 99th Infantry Division.”
When I got off the train, I started
to holler, “I’m in the wrong place.”
And naturally, a guy comes up to me.
He says, “You got a problem, soldier?”
I said, “I’m supposed to be in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.”
He says, “Well, you’re now in Camp Van Dorn,
Mississippi, which is the home of the
99th Infantry Division.
And if I was you, I would get in line.”
So naturally—he had a lot of stripes.
I thought that was important.
I better get in line.
So I did.
And when I got to the barracks where I was
supposed to be, I figured, now, how am I going
to get to Signal Corps if I’m in the infantry?
And I finally see this guy with all the stripes,
and I found out later that he was the first
sergeant of this group that I was involved in.
I spoke to him, and I said, “Can I
speak to the commanding officer?”
And he says, “You seem to be always in
trouble since you got in the service.”
I said, “Well, if I’m going to serve my
country, I think they should put me where
I could do the most good.
I’ve been trained and have some
schooling with the Signal Corps.”
Well, thank god, he let me speak to the commanding officer.
And when the commanding officer read all the
letters and so forth, he said he didn’t
know what he could do for me.
And he said, “But you’ve got to finish
your basic training before anything.”
So naturally, I went through my complete basic training.
And when we were on maneuvers at the
end of my training in Mississippi.
In the middle of the night, I get a call to
report to the commanding officer, and he told
me that I was being transferred to Baltimore,
Maryland, to a Signal Corps school.
Naturally, I thanked him.
And the next day, I was on the way to the
Signal Corps school, where I was taught to
operate this special radio equipment, which was VHF.
At that time, it was very secret,
but today, naturally, it’s nothing.
But it was the beginning of radio lengths
which was telephone, teletype, and pictures
without wire.
Upon completion of the school, I was
sent back to the 99th Infantry.
But I was stationed—I was attached
to the 99th Signal Company.
Upon being with the 99th Signal Company, I
was with them in Paris, Texas at the time,
and then I was told to report to the
company commander about a week later.
And I was told I was being transferred
to Camp Polk, Louisiana, to the 4th Armored Signal Battalion.
And naturally, I had not received any furloughs
at the time, and I was on the way to Camp
Polk, Louisiana, which I arrived a few days later.
And I was told when I arrived there that the
4th Armored Signal Battalion was preparing
to go overseas.
And this was in March of ’44.
We went to Camp Shanks, New York,
and we were there for about a week.
And then we left on the Queen
Elizabeth, and we went overseas.
We crossed the Atlantic without an escort,
because the Queen Elizabeth could travel quicker
than a convoy.
And we landed in Glasgow, Scotland.
And from there, we took the train down to a town
below Liverpool called Congleton, Cheshire.
And there we started our training for D-Day.
There is an island off of the coast of England
called the island of Wight, and it’s spelled
with a W-I-G-H-T.
And there we were sending messages in hope that
the German Army would pick up our messages.
And the reason was we were hoping they would
realize that the invasion was going to come
from Calais, France.
And we were hoping they would move all the
panzer divisions up there, because Hitler
was in charge of all the panzer divisions, and
no one could move a panzer division without his okay.
By the way, a panzer division is a tank division.
And naturally, the Germans had probably
the best tanks that were available.
From the town of Calais where I was station—I’m
sorry, up north past Liverpool—we went to Bristol.
And there we still operated.
And then I was called to the commanding officer
and told that I was being transferred down
to Portsmouth to be attached to the 29th Division,
where I was going to be involved in the D-Day invasion.
The equipment that I was operated was normally
put into a trailer, and the trailer was attached
to a half-track.
That was the way we operated this equipment.
And there was two units.
One was forward, and one was in the rear.
When I went down to Portsmouth, naturally the
trailer and my tank—trailer and my half-track
went with me.
But that was loaded onto another ship.
And I was loaded onto another ship with the 29th Infantry.
We were on this ship for about, I’d say, five days.
And on June the 5th— it was raining for the
last three days down there, and we were
waiting, and finally, on June the 5th, we got
the okay that we were going to be in the invasion.
And the ships pulled out of Portsmouth on
the 5th, and we started across the English Channel.
Naturally, the sea was pretty rough
because of the weather conditions.
And when we got about, I would say, three
quarters of the way over, which was the beginning
of June the 6th, the sergeant in charge of the
landing craft that I was attached to asked
me if I would like to sign a dollar bill.
He asked all of his men to sign a dollar bill.
There’s thirty-six men to a landing craft.
And the landing craft, by the way, are the
Higgins boats, which were built in New Orleans
by Mr. Higgins himself.
But that’s why they were called Higgins.
But naturally, they were landing craft.
And I said sure, I’d be very happy to sign the dollar bill.
And that dollar bill I still have on this time.
And as I said before, my dollar bill has thirty-six
names on it, which include my own plus the
other thirty-five on there.
On 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning, we went over
the side of the ships into landing crafts.
And we were in the third and fourth
wave that were to hit Omaha Beach.
The first and second waves that hit the beach,
about 80% of them were casualties immediately.
They were either wounded or killed.
When we reached the shore, before we went
off the landing craft, I had a radio which
was attached to my back, which was the communications
that I was operating from the landing craft
back to the ship.
Naturally, I still did not have my original
equipment, which was on another ship, and
which would not come ashore until the beach was secured.
When we landed, we were told to go over the
side of the ship rather than out the front.
We had a better chance.
And naturally, over the side we went.
And when I went in, I can’t swim, and
with all the equipment, down I went.
I had two choices: one was either
to drown, or take my chances above.
And I figured, I’ll take my chances above.
And when I came up, I found out there were
quite a few of us that couldn’t swim, and
we helped each other between bullets flying all over.
And we finally got to the beach.
Naturally, you could not dig a foxhole into
sand, because as quick as you dug, that’s
as quick as it filled up with sand.
So we hid behind dead bodies, wounded,
wherever we could find a place to hide.
And the machine guns on top—down at the
bluff and the big guns on top of the bluff
were firing down on the beach constantly.
And naturally, we were looking for any place
that we could hide and hope that we could survive.
Omaha got the name of Bloody Omaha.
Again, I would say—I guess it was probably
late in the afternoon of June the 6th when
we were finally able to make our way off the beach.
And when I was walking along the beach, I
happened to bump into the sergeant that was
in charge of our landing craft.
And he told me that he and I were the
only two that were able to survive.
Most of his men were either
killed or casualties from wounds.
So I could not believe that God
must have been with me that day.
But he and I were the only ones to survive.
Naturally, he went off the beach.
I still had to wait until they started to
finally load the equipment onto the beach,
until my trailer and my half-track came ashore,
which wasn’t until late that day of June the 6th.
(interviewer) So once you got your equipment you moved a
little bit further inland?
(Arthur) Once the equipment arrived, naturally the
rest of my crew came with me and we started out.
And we started to move into France.
And again, once we got off the beach, things
were not as bad as it was on the beach—but
still, there was plenty of gunfire and so
forth—and naturally, we in communication.
And the first big town that we really came
to—we passed many small towns, and naturally,
the French people were so happy to see us,
that they were finally free from the Germans,
and again, naturally they treated us
with all kinds of wine and so forth.
But then we came to the town of Saint-Lô.
Saint-Lô is in the area of the hedgerow country.
And hedgerow country is very thick, and it’s
very hard to fight your way through that kind of territory.
Saint-Lô was leveled to the ground.
One day the United States Army owned
it, the next day the Germans owned it.
And this went on, back and forth.
And naturally, Patton was not
involved in the D-Day invasion.
And finally Patton came in at Saint-Lô, and
his job was to naturally bring his tanks and
make his way throw the hedgerow country.
And somewhere along the line, I don’t know
who invented the piece of equipment they put
on the front of the tanks that was able to cut
through the hedgerow country, and finally
we made our way out there.
As we proceeded, we went from town
to town, fighting our way through.
And I would say probably the next big battle
that I was involved in was the Battle of the Bulge.
And the Battle of the Bulge came roughly in December of ’44.
And it was pretty cold.
It was snowing.
And we had not received our winter equipment as yet.
So naturally, it was pretty rough at that time.
And the 101st Airborne was
meanwhile surrounded at Bastogne.
And I was attached at that time, for communication
reasons, to the 7th Armored Division.
And we moved all the way up with Patton.
Naturally, Patton always told
everybody that he could move fast.
And they said, “How you going to get to Bastogne?”
He says, “I’ll get there, and
my men will be ready to fight.”
And he moved his troops.
Some of them naturally were in tanks, some
walked, and then they rotated and so forth.
And without a doubt, he did get to Bastogne.
And naturally, everybody knows the story of
what happened before he got there, when the
German Army who had them—the 101st—surrounded,
asked them to surrender, and the general who
was in charge sent a message back.
His favorite message was “Nuts.”
And the Germans didn’t know what nuts meant.
And I’m sure there was some other
wording in there besides nuts.
And I think he probably told them
some other names besides that.
I happen to have a copy of that letter in my book.
Again, I’d be glad to show it to you after.
(interviewer) Where were you
while these events were taking place?
(Arthur) Well, naturally, during the time, I was operating
in a trailer with communications, because
all communications were back and forth.
We were up—since I was in charge as platoon
leader of this group, I always took the forward position.
And many times, our trailer and half-tank
was ahead of our own artillery.
The other unit that I was communicating
back to was at the rear headquarters.
And there, we would send the messages back
and forth so they would know what was going on.
All messages from all the units who were up front
came through our equipment that we operated.
We also had a channel for monitoring, so we
could listen into what the messages were.
But the equipment that we operated was naturally
foolproof to a certain degree that it was
very hard to interpret.
So the Germans could not—even if they got in,
they could not interpret, because as the
message would run out, it was
blurred, what was going through ways.
And it was very hard for them
to read what our messages were.
Then during the Battle of the Bulge, as I said, it was cold.
I mean, real cold.
And when I was back in England, you could not
get packages sent to you unless you requested them.
And my parents always wondered why I requested—so
at the time, it was kind of warm, and I had
said, “Gee, maybe you can send
me some packages of Kool-Aid.”
And I figured, gee, we get Kool-Aid, we’ll
mix it with some water, and we’ll have some
nice drinks rather than water.
Well, that’s fine in the summertime.
Well, the Kool-Aid arrived during the wintertime.
And we put it in a big can, and we didn’t know
about it, and we got hit with bombardment,
and the can was outside.
And the next morning, we had a frozen can of Kool-Aid.
And the guys said, “Well, we can cut it open.
Then we make popsicles out of it.”
But you know, we were trying to make all kinds
of jokes during war to take some of the relief
off you that you were in combat.
(interviewer) By what town
were you positioned nearby? What area?
(Arthur) I was in the Ardennes forest during this time.
And the Ardennes forest is located
at the bottom of the Bastogne.
And in order to get to Bastogne, you
have to go through the Ardennes forest.
And naturally, when any shells landed in there,
the trees—it was all trees—the splinters
from the wood were worse than bullet shots.
So that’s where we had dug in at that time.
And naturally, being in the
trailer, we had some better chance.
But most of the time, you had a foxhole even
so, built outside of the trailer, that if
you were getting hit pretty hard,
you went for that foxhole.
(interviewer) Did you do that a few times?
(Arthur) Yes, we did.
Many times we were in the foxhole.
And again, we did not believe that we were
ever going to get out of that forest, because
as I said before, it was cold and we were
not prepared for this winter situation.
And with the 101st up there surrounded, it was pretty rough.
Until finally, Patton’s 7th, which we were
attached down at the Ardennes, was finally
able to make his way up to Bastogne.
(interviewer) When you were located in Ardennes forest,
did you have many casualties in your unit or wounds?
(Arthur) Well, again, we were very fortunate, because
even though we were up in front of our own
artillery, we weren’t up in front where
the infantry was taking the blunt of the battle.
So we were fortunate we weren’t that far up.
But yet, most of our shelling was coming from
artillery from the other units, and that’s
where we had a better chance to survive.
And our main objective was that those shells
would not hit our half-track or our trailer
where our radio equipment was.
Naturally, when we were attached to a unit,
they didn’t want us around them anyway.
And the reason being is the direction finders
would zero in, and there’s where they would
start to shell right away.
So they would put us out in a field, away from them.
So most of the time, that’s why we were
not up front where the infantry was.
We were back most of the time, behind
the artillery or in front of artillery.
We finally were able to get through, which
happened—the Battle of the Bulge ended,
I believe, around January the 25th.
I think it was probably over at that time.
And from there, we started to move again.
And our next stop was on the way—we were going
through various towns in Germany—Frankfurt
and so forth—and the next big town
that we came to was Munich, Germany.
(interviewer) Before we go any further, sir, I want to ask
you, would you recall some of the most communication
messages, the messages you were receiving
and sending, during the Battle of the Bulge?
(Arthur) Well, most of the messages naturally were
coming from where the locations were,
we need food, we need ammunition.
Again, during the Battle of the Bulge, the
skies were very—you couldn’t fly planes
in at that time.
And naturally, we were not getting
reinforced with food or ammunition.
And that was most of the messages, were we
need food, we need ammunition, we need to
move certain troops up here to help us.
The 101st Airborne was calling for troops to
be moved up, and they were trying to move—as
you know, during the Battle of the
Bulge, they broke through the lines.
And most of our infantry were at
not full strength at that time.
They were giving some of the men some
time off from the D-Day invasion.
So whenever they could get a little
relief, they would give them.
So again, when the Battle of the Bulge came,
we were not at full strength at that time.
When we got to Munich at that time, the war—I
would say it was getting better for us.
We knew it was a matter of time
when this war was going to end.
And Munich is where the Eagle’s Nest was.
And the Eagle’s Nest was Hitler’s favorite place.
That’s where all of the—(interview pauses)
As I was saying, most of the messages we were
to bring up at—we got to Munich, where Eagle’s
Nest was, and without a doubt,
the town is a great town. Berchtesgaden.
And at that place, we heard about a camp.
Now, from D-Day forward, the marching orders
for the troops were always to push the Germans
back, and if we came across any prisoner of
war camps, we were to free our troops that
were in the camp.
Those that could go back into
battle, make sure they got back.
Those that need to be sent to be
hospital, make sure, and so forth.
So we never heard of concentration camps.
And again, I’m not saying that other
troops may have heard about them.
But most of the American troops did
not hear about concentration camps.
When we took off from Munich to move forward,
we were on a policing mission, and it was
just a matter of time that we would be—the
war we were hoping was going to come to an end.
And as we moved out of Munich and started
toward a town called Dachau, we were going
through the fields and moving forward.
And I happened to be riding in the half-track
at that time, pulling our trailer behind.
And as I was looking through the field glasses
forward, we saw in the distance barbed wire,
and we thought we saw a prisoner of war camp.
And as we kept on moving, I asked
a couple of the men in my unit. I said, “Take a look.
Does that look like a prisoner of war camp?”
And they said they thought it was also.
But as we got closer, one of the gentlemen who
had the field glasses said, “Hey, sergeant. Take a look.
These guys seem to have funny uniforms.”
And I said, “Well, maybe they
have prisoner of war uniforms.”
And normally, our soldiers in prisoner
of war camps kept their own uniform.
They were not given any uniform.
So I looked through the field glasses, and
when I looked, I said, “Gee, they look like
stripy pajamas.”
I said, “It looks like white and black, from what I saw.”
And I said, “Gee, it’s funny.
We’re not getting any firing from up there neither.
It seems awful quiet up there.”
And as we kept on moving forward—and naturally,
we were with the 7th Armored—sorry, I was
attached to the 20th Armored at that time.
And as we were moving forward, I said,
“Gee, there’s not much gunfire.
Things are too quiet.”
We were following behind, and naturally,
we were letting these tanks go first.
We figured that’s better support for us.
(laughs) We’ll hang back a little
bit in case something breaks out.
And as we got close, real close, we see these
iron gates, and we see, like, shriveled up
bodies standing up, and up against this fence and all.
And naturally, the commander in charge of
this group that’s moving with the tanks
finally got to the gate.
And when they got to the gate, they broke in.
There was no resistance at all there.
And we saw all these dead bodies lying around.
And that was the first time that we
had heard of a concentration camp.
And the name of the concentration
camp was called Dachau.
And it was named for the town of
Dachau, which is located not too far.
You know, it’s right down the street.
And again, a lot of information I
found out later, after the war.
I was able to find out about this camp.
But at that time we went into the camp, and when
we saw these people, they looked half-starved.
And we didn’t know.
We took our K-rations, and we started to give the
K-rations to these people that were half-starved.
And at that time, the commander of the 20th
told us they had to use our communications
to get back to Army headquarters immediately.
And I didn’t know at the time, but what they
were communicating back was they wanted
Eisenhower, they wanted all the big officers
to come up to this camp, because they felt
that this was the first concentration camp
that the United States Army had liberated—they thought.
They weren’t sure.
Later on, after the war was over, I found
out that the 42nd Infantry, the 45th, and
the 20th were involved in liberating this camp.
This was on Sunday the 29th, 1945,
that we came upon this camp.
And when we got there, it was around noontime.
And again, it was unbearable, what we saw there.
And naturally, it was more unbearable
for me, because I was Jewish.
And to think that these people, they did nothing
wrong except being Jewish, but they were killed.
And again, the next day, which was Monday,
we heard the sirens and naturally, we knew
immediately Eisenhower was arriving at the camp.
Now, being with the Signal Corps, I was issued
a camera way back, along with my—and we
were told, anytime anybody in the Signal Corps—not
only our unit, all units—were told if they
saw anything especially of interest, they
were to take pictures and make sure it got
back to the Signal Corps.
And again, most of this was used later on, as we found out.
In fact, some of the pictures that were taken
at Dachau were used in a movie at that time,
which recently I just happened to see,
which was the trials of Nuremberg.
These pictures were used.
At that time, I never knew they would be used.
And I don’t know if it was my pictures
were used or whose pictures were used.
But we did take pictures of this camp, of what was going on.
And General Eisenhower made sure
that plenty of pictures were taken.
He also called the mayor of Dachau to the camp,
and he told him that he wanted the whole
town to be brought to this camp.
And this was Monday.
On Tuesday, all the townspeople were brought
to the camp, and they were made to go around
this camp and take a look at what was going on there.
And naturally, they all stated they didn’t
know what was going on there, which is hard
for anyone to believe, that the town is so
close and not knowing what was going on there.
I found out later, after the war was over,
that this camp was an experimental camp, and
all the inmates were used for the experiments
of the camp, and that all concentration camps
were run by the SS troopers.
And the SS troopers would come every weekend
to the camps and pick up all of the notes
about the experiments that were run.
And that way, they could use them to help
their soldiers do better jobs, whatever it may be.
So to tell me that the people in the town were
not aware of it is pretty hard to believe.
General Eisenhower also made the
people pick up these bodies.
And naturally, there was a trench that was built.
And what they did, we found out—they had a
bulldozer, and they would make a trough,
a long trough, and then they would take the
bulldozer, and push the dead bodies into the
trough, and cover it with lime, and then cover it with dirt.
That’s the way they killed these Jews and the inmates.
All concentration camps, not only did they
have Jews, they had gypsies in there, and
they had a few Germans who didn’t
believe in Hitler’s program.
But most of them were Jewish people in there.
And this is the way they got rid of them.
Naturally, they were given orders that when
they knew that the United States Army was
on the move, to get ready, get rid of as many as possible.
When we were moving up this hill, by the way,
we saw smoke coming out of a stack, and we
couldn’t figure what the smoke was.
When we got to the camp, we realized what it was.
It was a crematory where they were burning bodies.
The ashes were still warm, which I took pictures
of, which—it was just an unbearable situation.
Again, most of the troops, after being there
three days, the 20th Armored moved on.
And again, I took as many pictures as possible,
and then I moved also on forward, until we
reached the Elbe River.
And the Elbe River is where met the Russian Army.
And that’s where the war ended for me.
That’s where the war came to an end.
Again, as I said, that situation at Dachau
is a situation that I will never forget.
Again, if I may state, it was sixty-six years
later that I returned and retraced my steps
from England all the way up to Munich,
Germany, where I visit the camp of Dachau.
(interviewer) How long were you at the camp?
(Arthur) The first time?
(interviewer) Yes, sir.
When you originally were at the camp.
(Arthur) When we first went into Dachau, I was there three days.
Normally, you don’t stay there too long.
You normally move out right away.
But since this was such a special situation,
I was told to stay an extra couple days.
And then I moved along with the 20th
Armored Division as we moved forward.
(interviewer) Were you close
to any top brass when you moved into the camp?
(Arthur) I saw Eisenhower.
I naturally—he was too busy to see.
I took a picture at the time.
Again, all my pictures had to be
turned over to the Signal Corps.
And some of these pictures I was able to bring home with me.
(interviewer) Were you able to
talk to some of the survivors?
(Arthur) Again, I naturally—in high school, I took up German.
Oh, you had to take a language in high school.
And I picked German.
Why, I don’t know.
I think I picked it because being Jewish,
I thought it was close to my religion.
(laughs) I could understand a little bit,
because German and Jewish sometime are pretty close.
And it did help me a little bit at the
camp to be able to talk to the camp.
By the way, one of the things I forgot to
tell you—when we arrived at the camp, there
was only six SS troopers left, and two police dogs.
These are killer police dogs.
The six SS troopers left were the lowest
of the SS troopers that were left.
As weak as these people were, if we would
allow them to, they would have killed these
six SS troopers.
But naturally, we had to send them back to the
rear to be interrogated for any information
they could get out.
And again, as I said, as weak as they
were, they would have killed them.
And again, as I said, when we were giving
them the K-rations, we thought we were doing
the right thing.
When the medical group got there, they immediately
stopped it, and they told us that was the
worst thing that we could do.
And again, they took over.
And what happened to the people in the camp, I can’t answer.
But I did find out after the war, when
I got involved in talking about this.
After the war was over, I came home.
I was discharged.
And I never wanted to talk about the war.
I wanted to forget about it.
And I felt that I had done what I had to do,
and I wanted to get back to, one, going back
to college, which I did; I wanted to
get a job and make a life for myself.
My mother and father passed away not knowing what I did.
They did know I was involved in D-Day, but
they never knew I liberated a concentration camp.
When my granddaughter was in seventh grade,
she called me up and she said, “Grandpa,
I got to do a report on the Holocaust.
Do you know anything about it?”
Now, in the state of New Jersey, the
Holocaust is mandatory in all schools.
I hope that someday it’ll be mandatory
in all the states of the United States.
I know it’s just been approved in
Texas, where it is now mandatory also.
There is many states that it’s
mandatory, but it’s not in every state.
And I helped her with the report, and I told
her as much as I knew, and she went home.
I said, “You’ve got to do the report.
I gave you some information.
You put it in your own words.
That’s what you do.”
And she called me back a week later and told
me she got an A on the report, and the teacher
asked her where she got the information.
She said, “From my grandpa.”
And she says, “Grandpa, guess what?
I volunteered you to speak in school.”
And I said, “Elise, I don’t speak in school.
I don’t speak anywhere about this.”
She says, “You can’t let me down.
All my schoolmates want to meet
you and want to hear about it.”
I said, “Elise, I don’t talk.”
So I said to my wife, “What should I do?”
And she says, “I guess you better go and speak.”
Well, naturally, as a grandfather, you
don’t let your granddaughter down.
So I went to the school, and I would not show
the pictures, and I told them a little bit
about what it was and tried to
be as calm as I could about it.
And when I was all done, the teacher said
to me, “You know, you’re not doing the
right thing.”
She said, “You were there.
You saw what happened.
There are so many people stating
that this Holocaust never happened.
You should talk about it.”
And I went home and I said to my wife, “You
know, the teacher said I’m not doing the right thing.
She said I should talk about this.”
So my wife said, “Well, what are you going to do?”
So we belong to the JCC, and I came down here
and I met a young lady by the name of Helen
Kershaw who runs the Holocaust museum here.
And she’s very involved in it.
And naturally, she was so happy to see me as
being a liberator, because liberators were
hard to find.
And naturally, since I have met Helen Kershaw,
over many years, I have talked at many schools
to many schoolchildren, and I’ve received many letters.
And many of the children were very happy to
hear from a liberator the true story, because
naturally, they read about it, but
to hear someone that was there.
And there’s too many stories going
around that this didn’t happen.
Again, a liberator—the most important thing
for me, being a liberator, was to be able
to find someone that I liberated.
And again, I had been hunting and hunting to
see if I could find someone that I liberated.
And in November of 2009, my niece who lives
in Florida who finally found out about me
was in Ohio visiting some of her friends
there, and she went to the Holocaust museum.
And there she saw a list of six survivors who lived in Ohio.
They’re still alive.
And she went back to her friend’s home, and
they got on the phone and they called,
and they located one of them.
And she said that her uncle was a liberator.
“Could he call your husband?”
She spoke to the wife.
And she said yes.
And my niece called me and gave me the phone number.
In November, I called this phone number, and
I spoke to the wife first, and then she put
her husband on the phone.
And he said to me, he remembers the whole incident.
And I said to him, “How old were you at that time?”
And he says he believes he was sixteen years of age.
And I said, “Do you remember—I took a picture
before I left of a lot of the inmates
lined up against the fence.”
And he says, “Yes.
And I’m in that picture.”
And then I said, “Well, I have that picture.
If I send it to you, could you think
you could identify which one is you?”
And he says he thinks he could.
Well, I sent the picture to Ohio.
In January of 2010, the beginning, I said
to my wife, “I’ve got to call and wish
him a happy New Year.”
But more important, I’d like to know if
he recognized himself in the picture.
And when I call, his wife answered the phone,
and she told me that her husband was in the
hospital, that he wasn’t doing too well, and
that from all he had gone through, that
he had taken sick.
But she did say to me, “Do you have your picture?”
I said, “Yes.”
And she said, “Get your picture,” and I did.
And she said, “Please count from left to right, six over.”
Or maybe it was four over.
And she said, “That’s my husband.”
I have that picture, and I’m going to be
able to show you a copy of that picture, and
you’ll be able to use that in your museum also.
And again, I did call again to let him know
that I was going back to retrace my steps,
and I was going to be in Dachau.
But when I called, the number was discontinued,
and I was not able to get in touch with him.
But I guess it was about four weeks before I
went on my trip—I have a niece and nephew
who live in Philadelphia who volunteered
me to speak at their synagogue.
And I went over and spoke in the synagogue.
And when I was done speaking, a gentleman
came up, and he tapped me on the shoulder,
and he said to me that he wanted to thank
me first for speaking, but he also wanted
to thank me for saving his uncle.
And his uncle lives in Sarasota, Florida, and
he was in that camp also, and he’s alive.
And he said, “Will you please call my uncle?”
I said, “No.
I would like you to call him first, because
I don’t like to call, because maybe they’re
not up to wanting to talk to me, and I’d
like to get his permission to call.”
And he called me on Monday morning and
said he would love to talk to me.
So I called him that evening, and he got on
the phone, and he started to talk to me.
And we talked.
And I asked him how old he was.
And he says, “I don’t know.”
So I said, “Well, how old are you now?”
And he says, “I’m eighty-five years old.”
I said, “Well then, I know how old you were.
You were nineteen.”
He said, “How do you know that?”
I said, “Well, I’m eighty-six, and I was twenty.
So you had to be a year younger than me.”
And he said, “Boy, you’re fast.”
Anyway, we talked a while, and then he told
me a story that brought chills to my body,
and I could not believe the story.
And he said that the only people who knew the
story was his relatives and his children.
And he says, “I’m going to tell you the story.”
He says, “You remember when you were in the camp.”
And I said, “Yes.”
And I also told him about the picture.
He says, “I think I’m in the picture also.”
And I told him I would send him a picture.”
He said when things quiet down at the camp,
he says another inmate called out his name.
And his last name was Danziger.
And he kept on calling his name.
And finally he went over to him, and he
said, “Why are you calling my name out?”
And he said, “I want you to come with me.”
And he took him to another barracks, and he
said, “I want you to come to this barracks.”
And when he got to the barracks, he said he
went inside, and there were six inmates lying
on the floor, but they were too weak
to come out because of lack of food.
They were all cuddled together, lying on the floor.
And he told this man to please call out your last name.
“Danziger! Danziger!”
And he said, “Why?”
“Please call the name out.”
And he said, “So I obeyed what the man told
me—the inmate—and I called the name out.”
And he said all of a sudden he heard from
behind this group, this six men, he heard
the name, “Danziger. Danziger.”
And when he looked down, in the floor there
with the men he pushed aside, he found out
the man was his father.
He could not believe that his father and he
were in the same camp and never knew it.
He also told me that naturally, when we last—that
the Army first aid and nurses and doctors
all took his father and him to the hospital.
He said the Medical Corps took good care of him.
And I didn’t say anything, but he told me
that his father only lasted two weeks in a hospital.
He told me that if would not have arrived,
he’d doubt if they would have been able
to last another couple weeks because of lack of food.
He said we got there in the nick of time.
Again, I called him and told him that
I was going back to retrace my steps.
And I asked him what barracks he was in.
And he told me he was in barracks four.
And I said fine.
Well, when I went on my trip and I got to
Dachau—and when I got there, naturally I
didn’t realize it—all the barracks had been removed.
There’s only a couple of them there, and
they’ve been transformed into the museum
and the offices there.
And as I walked through the camp, I couldn’t
believe it was the same place I had liberated.
And again, where the barracks were, in place
of the barracks there is a cement block there.
And on each block is the number of the barracks.
And there is the number four on this barracks.
And I took a picture and pointed to the number
four, and I will be sending him this picture.
Again, I have this picture, and I will
be happy to send you a copy of it.
I did not bring it for this
interview, for which I am very sorry.
So again, this is the situation.
And I am waiting for him to return the picture to me.
While I was at the camp, one of the ladies
there who runs the camp gave me the name of
a gentleman who lives in Chicago,
who was also in the camp.
And when I got back just recently from my
trip, I called Chicago, and I spoke to him.
And he also was in the camp.
He doesn’t remember how old he was, but
he also asked me to send him a picture to
see if he was along the fence.
He doesn’t remember, but he said he may have been.
So again, that’s part of what took place when
I returned to Dachau on my trip retracing
my steps.
(interviewer) Do you recall what they were saying—did
some newly-liberated prisoners say
things to you when you entered the camp?
(Arthur) Yes. And naturally, most of them were speaking
Hebrew, which I can’t do too well.
After I was bar mitzvah, I was glad to get that over with.
But again, I tried to make it out.
And they could not believe that they were
liberated until we brought the American flags in.
And we gave them the American
flag which we had at that time.
And again, it was pretty hard for them to talk.
And again, most of them said the same thing:
they did not believe they could have survived much longer.
Because you know, I found out later on, after I
was home, what a day in their life was like.
They would get up in the morning, first thing,
and most of them would run for roll call for
one reason only, and the reason they ran—because
when they got up in the morning, they were
given a cup of black coffee.
And then they were hoping they
would be picked for a work detail.
And if they were picked for a work detail,
they got a slice of some kind of sausage—what
it was, I don’t know—and maybe half a slice of bread.
And that’s—(interview pauses)
Be given a slice of bread.
And the only reason they went so fast was
to be—it would give them something to eat.
The rest that were not on a work detail got
nothing until which would be lunch, which
was nothing actually to speak about.
And this is what they ran to and hoping
they would be on the work detail.
I learned a lot of other things, and I investigated,
again on my own, when I got involved in speaking,
because I thought it was very important that
I know as much about Dachau as possible if
I’m going to talk about it, since
I was a liberator of the camp.
Again, I found out later on that at the height
of the war—the camp was built in 1933, Dachau.
It was built to take care of those people
who did not believe in Hitler and what he
was doing, and naturally to
imprison as many Jews as possible.
And that was the way of eliminating Jewish people.
And as I said before, the only crime
they committed was being Jewish.
And again, it was built to hold
roughly about 2000 to 3000 inmates.
At the height of the war, there was 6600 inmates
in that camp, at the height of the war.
I also found out later on that each barracks
had an inmate that was picked to be in charge
of the barracks.
And his job was to make sure that they followed
the routine of the SS troopers, what they
were supposed to do—make sure they came to
roll call, blah blah blah, and so forth.
And again, at roll call, they would say to
each barracks chief, “How many inmates do
you have in your barracks?”
And they would say, “Well, we have
300 inmates in the barracks.”
“Well, tomorrow morning at roll call,
we’d like to see 150 inmates.”
That meant they had to get rid of 150 people.
It was their job to pick someone to go to their death.
After they did this maybe for about three
weeks, they went to their death, and they
picked another barracks chief.
And this went on and on.
And this is what they used to do.
I learned this later on, as I investigated
more about what went on in that camp.
And again, I can go on and explain so
many different things that they did.
But the most important thing that they
did was the experiments they did.
And all of the inmates that were used for
the experiment, none of them survived the
experiment, because it was so—different
ones that they did, and I have a whole list
of the various experiments that
they performed at this death camp.
(interviewer) So after you came
back, tell me more about—after
you left the camp, you went to the Elbe River.
(Arthur) After we left Dachau, we moved forward.
Our main job was to naturally keep on moving,
keep headquarters informed what was going on.
And there wasn’t too much going on.
Fighting was really getting to be a lull.
And when we got—naturally, we were hoping
that we were going to get to Berlin first,
but we knew we weren’t, because we had heard
that our final end was the Elbe River, that
the Russians had the right to go into Berlin.
And when we got to the Elbe River, that’s where
we first met the Russian Army, and that’s
when we met the first—the Russian women
fighters, who were unbelievable, and could
really drink their gin and vodka.
(laughs) And that’s where the war for me
came to an end, was at the Elbe River.
Now, I had enough points to come home in September of 1945.
And the war ended when the war ended,
but I had enough points to come home.
But the problem was the 4th Signal Battalion
were given instructions that we had to put
in all the communications from Paris up to
Bonn, Germany, which was the capital of the
United States Army after the war.
And after the communications were
finished, then I was able to come home.
And that happened in January of 1946.
So I had an addition of roughly
about another four or five months.
And I had never been home on furlough except when
I went to the school in Baltimore, Maryland,
and I was able to get home a couple times.
So naturally, when I got back to the United
States and got to be discharged, I was happy
as a lark.
When I was discharged, I came home.
And naturally, it took me a couple
weeks to get myself together.
I was going to go to the University of Miami to
finish my education, and it was all planned.
I had sent my papers in.
And naturally, it was under the GI Bill of
Rights, which paid for my college education.
But also, we had a 52-20 club, and that was
for fifty-two weeks, if you didn’t have
a job, you got $20 a week from the government.
Well, I happened to go downtown and was working
along Arch Street in Philadelphia when I saw
these flags outside of a building.
And I went in, and lo and behold, I see all
this radio equipment lying on the floor.
And I said, “Holy—guys, that’s the
equipment I operated during the war.”
And I figured these gentlemen must
have got it in a bid or something.
They were selling surplus Army equipment—he
was selling it—plus a lot of other stuff.
And I found out that he was a distributor for
electronic component parts to fix radios.
At the time, it was the beginning of television.
And a guy walks into the store, and
he saw me looking at the equipment.
He says, “Oh, can you tell me about it?”
I said, “I don’t work here.
I’m just looking.
I used to operate this during the war.”
And he says, “Oh.
I was thinking of buying it.”
I said, “Well, what do you want to do with it?”
He said, “Well, I’m a radio ham.”
I said, “Oh, you broadcast on the radio?”
He said, “Yeah. Maybe I can convert this.”
I said, “Well, don’t ask me about that.
I can only tell you I operated it.
It was very good equipment.”
So he said, “Well, I think I may buy one.”
I said, “Well, I’m sure they’ll be glad to sell you one.”
And he went over to the counter, and the guy—there
was another man standing in back of me.
And when the guy walked over to the counter,
the guy says to me, “Would you like a job here?”
I said, “No. Why?”
He said, “I own this place.” I said, “Oh.
Well, that’s nice.”
I said, “No. I’m going to the University of Miami,
"and I’m going to college.
I want to finish my education.”
And he said, “Well, I’ll send you to college.”
I said, “You’re not going to send me to college.
(laughs) The government’s supposed to send me to college.
It’s paid for.”
He said, “Well, I’ll pay you a big salary.”
I said, “How can you pay me a big salary?
I’m getting $20 a week for fifty-two
weeks for doing nothing.”
Anyway, he kept on talking to me and talking to me.
Well, at the end of the day, I go home and
I said to my father, “You raised a dumb son.”
He said, “Why?”
I said, “I took a job for $25 a week,
and I’ve got to work on Saturdays.”
My father said, “You did the right thing.”
And I went to night school and graduated, and
I worked for this company for forty-five years.
I was executive vice president of the company.
And we became one of the largest electronic
distributing companies in the country, next
to—we were the second largest in the country.
So my father was right.
(interviewer) What’s the name of the company?
(Arthur) Almo Electronics.
Again, we’re still in business.
And our whole business changed around.
We’re up on Roosevelt Boulevard.
When I retired from Almo, we were at Roosevelt
and—right where the airport is, at the opposite
end of Whitman Chocolates.
They moved up to a new building, and I’m
still in communication with the people right now.
And again, the gentleman who became
the—who is president was a son-in-law.
He and I ran the company for about—close
to about thirty-eight years, he and I ran.
When his father-in-law passed away, the company
was doing roughly about—maybe $85 million.
When I retired with the company,
we were doing about $160 million.
So the company grew to be very big.
But the company has completely changed.
They are distributors of all
weight goods now and television.
So the whole business has changed
from what it used to be.
And also computers.
So they are still in business.
(interviewer) Tell me more about meeting the Russians.
You said you met the Russian women.
What was the impression you had
of Russian men, male soldiers?
(Arthur) Well, number one, as you can appreciate, the
Russians had been fighting for a long time before we were.
They really had a rough time, and they
were really—they could care less.
If you were German, they put them out of action
immediately, one way or the other got rid of them.
And that’s the way they thought about it.
And again, as I said before, I think if Patton
had his way, he would have went to Berlin
in two days, because he moved pretty fast.
But again, you know—I don’t want to discuss it right now.
I don’t want to discuss politics.
But again, Patton was told that he would
do what he was told to do, and that’s what he did.
He was not a good politician, but he was a good general.
(interviewer) How long were you near the Elbe River?
(Arthur) We were at the Elbe River, I would say maybe
a week at the most, and then we went back to a town.
I think it was called Palling,
Germany, if I remember correctly.
And that’s where I stayed until I was
finally given the okay to go home.
(interviewer) While you were there by the river, did you
hear reports of the atrocities the Russians
were committing against the Germans?
You kind of hinted that a little bit.
(Arthur) We got a little communication.
It was hard to understand most of them.
Most of them didn’t speak English.
We didn’t speak Russian.
And you know, most of it was shaking hands,
slapping each other on the back, drinking
with them.
And again, I’m not a very big drinker.
(laughs) So I had to make sure I
stayed sober, so I didn’t get drunk.
But most of it was that.
And again, we heard some of the
things they did and so forth.
And again, we heard basically was Hilter dead
or not, and basically we heard that he was at that time.
And we were trying to find out how he was killed
or what happened to him, and we couldn’t.
I didn’t find out until after.
Later on we found out, when we got back to
our final place, which was Palling, Germany,
is when we found out.
We knew he was dead, but how, we didn’t know at that time.
(interviewer) Looking back the war, did the war change your
life in any way?
(Arthur) Well, number one, I believe I matured very
quickly compared to men of my age coming out of high school.
You’ve got to remember, I was eighteen when I was drafted.
I was nineteen when I landed on Omaha Beach.
I was twenty when I liberated this camp.
And as I told my grandson who is twenty-five,
I missed the best years of my life, because
nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, and twenty-two
are the best years of college schooling, which I missed.
Yes, I did graduate from college, but I missed that.
(interviewer) What is the impression
of World War II for America?
(Arthur) Well, I believe that without a doubt, it was
a shame that the war had to last that long.
But I thought it was the right thing, because
if not—again, I was interviewed by Fox News,
and the gentleman who interviewed me stated
in his interview—which I have a copy of
his letter he wrote me, and I’ll show you
a copy of the letter—he says if it wasn’t
for soldiers like myself and all who fought
in World War II, we may be speaking German
in this country now.
And how true that may have been.
So in this letter he wrote, he points
that out, when he spoke about that.
So believe that I had to do what I had to do.
Yes, I was drafted. I didn’t volunteer.
But when I did volunteer, I did what I felt
was the best thing, to get to Signal Corps,
where I thought I could do the most for the Army.
(interviewer) In your opinion, did World War II change the
rest of the world?
(Arthur) In the beginning, I believe so.
As I look at what’s going on in today’s
world, I would say no, because I see the same
thing starting to take place all
over again, in various countries.
Again, it is not such a thing
as—everyone should live in peace.
I just don’t believe—I hope my
grandchildren someday may see that.
But as of today, I don’t see it happening.
There’s too many things going on again, what’s going on.
Should we spend more time and straighten out?
Look how many wars we’ve been in since World War II.
And have we improved our situation?
You know, I’m not a politician.
I know as an outsider looking in, and being
as a World War II veteran, I say, is all this
going down the drain for nothing?
I hope it hasn’t.
So when I look at it, I get really concerned.
You know, I am eighty-six years of age, but I
think of my children and my grandchildren,
what’s going on.
And their life is not an easy life, and it should be.
I look at the kids, my grandchildren, and all
three who finished college who are paying
loans off.
Nothing’s being done to help them. Nothing.
But yet when I see all this money that went
to the bankers and all to help them out, and
then all these big guys got their bonuses,
this is not the right thing to do.
Poor people who are working, looking to get—they
wait every year to get an increase in Social
Security, but the congressmen took their increase.
But we didn’t get our increase, Social
Security people who need that money.
And now I hear it again, and I see it in the paper.
There’s a second chance that another year’s
going to go by without an increase in Social Security.
It’s not right.
So again, we vote some of these people in,
but I also know that if they’re not doing
their job, we should vote them out.
And one of the things I tell the kids when
I speak in schools, especially in the high
schools—these are the future generation children.
These are the ones who are going
to take over after we leave.
And I tell them, make sure—you’re
going to be voting soon.
Make sure—just don’t look at the name.
Read about them.
Look about what have they done up to this date.
Have they done something worthwhile?
Do you think they will be leaders in this country?
And if they are, then vote for them.
If not, make sure you vote for the right person.
Don’t let them push anything down your throat.
You are the generation that we are going to look after.
(interviewer) In your opinion, what is the significance
of having the National World War II Museum?
(Arthur) Without a doubt, it’s the most important
thing that we can do.
The World War II Museum without a doubt has
done the most—the greatest thing to show
people who come to visit this.
And I hope that everybody has the
opportunity to come to visit this museum.
It’s one of the finest.
To be able to see what World War II veterans
did—what any veteran did, guys who have
fought, and now ladies who are
giving their lives to this country.
A lot of people are not aware what is going on.
Too many people have their head in the
sand, and they’ve got to come out.
They’re only looking—their next-door
neighbor, what’s good for them.
And again, if more neighbors would help
each other, this would be a better country.
But without a doubt, the museum is one of
the finest in the country, and I’m glad
that I’m a charter member.
(interviewer) Thank you very much.
Thank you for your service, sir.
Captioned by AdeptWordManagement.com


Arthur Seltzer was born in Norfolk, Virginia in December 1923. He was a youngster in the Great Depression. His father owned a broom factory in Norfolk. He prospered there, but his wife grew homesick so the family moved to Philadelphia for her. His father made a lot of money selling the factory. He became sick in Philadelphia and was hospitalized. This was in 1928 and 1929. One day, the senior Seltzer told his wife to go to the bank and withdraw all the family funds. She got there too late as all the banks had closed. The Stock Market crash had occurred, resulting in the family loss of all its wealth. They had to start over again. Young Seltzer could not afford many things that other children could get, but he felt he did alright. His parents successfully supported their three children. As Seltzer entered high school, he played multiple sports. He lettered in football, basketball and tennis. He also sang in the choir and performed in many shows. After graduation, his family could not afford to send him or his brother to college. Seltzer saw in a newspaper that the Army Signal Corps would send young men to college if they would serve with them after being drafted. Seltzer took the requisite examination and passed. He was sent to the University of Pittsburgh. He attended one year of training before being drafted into the Army in February 1943. He was 18 years old.


Before Arthur Seltzer was drafted into the Army, he had received multiple letters of commendation from the Army Signal Corps [Annotator’s Note: Seltzer had taken a year of civilian training at the University of Pittsburgh under the auspices of the Signal Corp just prior to being drafted]. He went to Indiantown Gap where he was inducted. He indicated that he wanted to be in the Signal Corp. Some guy with stripes told him to stand down and Seltzer decided to be patient. About a week later, he was loaded on a train. He assumed he was going to Signal Corps School. He experienced a perplexing journey to the south away from any Signal Corps training camps he knew. He found himself in Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi. He was not at Signal Corps School but was at the home of the 99th Infantry Division. He began to complain but to no avail. He got in line as ordered and went to the barracks. Seltzer tried to figure a way to get to his proper assignment with the Signal Corps. He spoke to the First Sergeant and then the commanding officer. The officer insisted that Seltzer finish his basic training, and he would see what he could do. After basic and during maneuvers, Seltzer found out he was being transferring to Baltimore, Maryland for Signal Corps training. He learned to operate wireless radio equipment for voice messages, teletype, and transfer of pictorial information. It was VHF and highly secret for the time. After the training, he was sent to the 99th Signal Company which was attached to the 99th Infantry Division. He reported to the commander and was told that he was being transferred to Camp Polk, Louisiana. He would be a member of the 4th Armored Signal Battalion. He had not received a furlough prior to that time. Upon arrival at Fort Polk, he was told that the 4th Armored Signal Battalion was preparing to go overseas. That was in March 1944. After a brief stay at Camp Shanks, New York, he voyaged across the Atlantic unescorted on the Queen Elizabeth. The liner could travel faster than any convoy so it needed no escort.


After landing in Glasgow, Scotland, Arthur Seltzer took a train down to a town near Liverpool called Congleton Cheshire. That was where his outfit [Annotator’s Note: the 4th Armored Signal Battalion] started their training for D-Day. There is an island offshore called the Isle of Wright [Annotator’s Note: Isle of Wight]. Messages were being sent there in hopes of the Germans interpreting that the invasion would be coming toward the Pas de Calais. This was intended to confuse Hitler and keep the German panzer or tank divisions in a location removed from the actual planned invasion sites. Seltzer was then transferred to Portsmouth to be assigned to the 29th Infantry Division for the D-Day invasion. The equipment that Seltzer utilized was normally placed in a trailer attached to a halftrack. There were two such units. One unit was in the forward action and one was in the rear. The equipment was loaded on a different ship from Seltzer. Seltzer was loaded aboard a ship with the 29th Infantry Division. The men had been onboard for about five days. On 5 June, after three days of rain, the ships pulled out of Portsmouth to transfer across the rough seas toward the landing sites. Inclement weather conditions persisted. By early 6 June, at three quarters of the way over, the 36 men who were to board the same Higgins Boat [Annotator's Note: the LCVP, or Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel, was also known as the Higgins Boat] were asked by a sergeant to sign a dollar bill. The Higgins Boats were built in New Orleans by Mr. Higgins [Annotator’s Note: Andrew Jackson Higgins designed and built the LCVP]. Seltzer still has his dollar bill with his name plus the other 35 men who were in his landing craft with him.


At about 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning, Arthur Seltzer went over the side of the ship to enter his landing craft. He was part of the third and forth assault waves. The first two waves had experienced nearly 80 percent casualties from the intense German resistance. Seltzer carried a radio on his back. He was in communication from the landing craft back to the ship. It was not his original equipment. That was on another ship and would be brought to the beachhead after it was secure. Prior to reaching the beach, the men were told to go over the side of the boat to give them a better chance. Going over the side, Seltzer found himself in deep water. His heavy radio equipment pulled him down. He quickly assessed that his chances were better above the water than below the water. He could not swim. That was the case for many of the troops. They had to assist one another to shallow water between bullets flying all around them. Finally reaching the beach, there was no way to dig foxholes in the wet sand. The only cover was behind dead or wounded bodies. The heavy enemy firing from the cliffs above forced the assault troops to attempt to find any place they could hide. Omaha Beach came to be referred to as "Bloody Omaha" because of the many dead and wounded American soldiers. By late in the afternoon of 6 June, the men made their way off the beach. Seltzer found the sergeant who was in charge of the landing craft. He informed Seltzer that they were the only two men from their landing craft who survived the morning without being killed or wounded. Seltzer felt that God was with him to survive that day. Seltzer had to wait for his equipment to reach the beach late that day. When the equipment arrived, Seltzer and his crew began to move into France. Getting off the beach, the fighting lessened but there was plenty of gunfire. The local French population was happy to see the Americans. They treated their liberators with wine and other things. The fighting in the hedgerow country was difficult. The town of St. Lo was leveled to the ground during the conflict. The fighting would see saw back and forth. Patton [Annotator’s Note: General George S. Patton] would work toward liberating the hedgerow country of Normandy. The invention of the teeth welded to the front of tanks to cut through the hedgerows' thick vegetation helped the breakout from the Norman region. The next major battle that Seltzer was to experience was the Battle of the Bulge.


Arthur Seltzer was a participant in the Battle of the Bulge. The battle began in December 1944. It was cold and snowing. The troops had not received their winter equipment at the time. The 101st Airborne Division was surrounded at Bastone. Seltzer was attached for communication purposes to Patton’s [Annotator’s Note: General George S. Patton] 7th Armored Division. Patton committed to relieving Bastone and he did. When asked to surrender, the defenders of Bastogne replied Nuts to the Germans. Some other colorful wording might have been included besides that single remark. Seltzer was the platoon leader of the two communication units operating in separate trailers. He placed himself toward the forward position directly behind the front lines. The second unit would be with headquarters. Messages were sent back and forth. All information from the front went through Seltzer’s unit. The unit also had a channel for monitoring. That enabled them to listen to messages. Messages were blurred when they were transmitted. That made the information hard for the Germans to understand should they intercept them. While Seltzer was back in England before the invasion, he had requested that his parents send him packages of Kool-Aid. The packaged flavoring worked fine with water during the summer, but the weather during the Bulge was very cold. When Seltzer attempted to create the beverage mix, the Germans bombarded their position. The mixed beverage was left outside and it froze. The men commented that they could strip the container away from the frozen beverage and have popsicles. [Annotator’s Note: Seltzer smiles as he recollects the event.] The men attempted to relieve the tension in the war by making any kind of joke. Seltzer was in the Ardennes Forest during the battle. To get to Bastone, they had to traverse the adjacent Ardennes. When the Germans bombarded the Americans, the shells would burst overhead in the trees causing splinters and shrapnel to shower the troops below. The communication trailer offered some protection, but in case of severe attack, the men went for foxholes that had been dug for their protection. Seltzer found protection in his foxhole many times. It was cold and the men knew the 101st was surrounded. They did not know if they would get out of the forest. Seltzer was fortunate because, although they were in forward positions, they were not on the front lines. The danger came from artillery for the most part. When the communications unit was attached to troops, they wanted distance between them. German direction finders could locate the communications transmission sites and target it. As a result, Seltzer would place his unit behind the forward troops. The Battle of the Bulge ended on 25 January [Annotator’s Note: 25 January 1945]. After the Bulge, Seltzer’s unit travelled through German towns. The next major town reached was Munich. Most of the messages sent during the Battle of the Bulge dealt with urgent calls for food or ammunition or calls for reinforcements. The weather was bad so supply by air was not possible initially. The troops in the Ardennes were not at full strength when the Battle of the Bulge started.


Arthur Seltzer reached Munich, Germany. The troops could tell the war was coming to an end. That was the location of Hitler’s Eagles Nest. That was the German leader’s favorite place. The town of Berchtesgaden is a great town. It was there that the troops heard about a camp. From D- Day forward, the marching orders were to push the Germans back and free any troops found in prisoner of war camps. The men had never heard of concentration camps. In Munich, the troops were basically in a policing action. As they headed to a town called Dachau, Seltzer was riding in a halftrack pulling the trailer behind. Looking through the field glasses, he thought he found a prisoner of war camp. Upon closing in, the troops noticed that the inmates had funny uniforms. That was strange because most prisoners of war kept their existing uniforms. These inmates had striped clothes that were black and white. There was no incoming fire from the camp. It seemed very quiet. At this point in the war, Seltzer was attached to the 20th Armored Division. The men observed iron gates with shriveled up bodies standing against it. When the tank commander got to the gate, there was no resistance at all. There were dead bodies everywhere. The camp was named for the town close by. It was called Dachau. Entering the camp, the people looked half starved. The troops tried to give their rations to the inmates. The commander of the 20th Armored wanted to communicate to headquarters about what they had found. They wanted Eisenhower [Annotator’s Note: General Dwight David Eisenhower] and other high ranking officers to see what had been discovered. The 20th command thought that the first concentration camp had been liberated by the United States Army. Seltzer would find out later that other divisions had been involved in the liberation of Dachau. It was noon on a Sunday on 29 [Annotator’s Note: April] 1945. Seeing the situation at Dachau was unbearable, particularly to Seltzer because he was Jewish. The next day, Eisenhower arrived at the camp. Being with the Signal Corps, Seltzer was issued a camera to take pictures of any unusual or special circumstances. Some of his photographs were used in a movie called the "Trials of Nuremburg". General Eisenhower made sure plenty of pictures were taken. He also called the mayor of the local town and made the citizens observe what had happened in the camp. The civilians all claimed that they knew nothing of what was going on there. The camp was run by the SS troops. Experiments were run there. The SS would pick up notes on the experiments in order to help German troops in the field. It was hard to believe the locals did not know what was going on there. There were deep trenches where bodies were disposed of by the SS. The inmates were Jews, gypsies and others. When the United States Army closed in, the orders were given by the SS to get rid of as many inmates as possible. As Seltzer moved in toward the camp, he observed smoke from a chimney. He discovered that it was a crematory in the camp used for burning bodies. After being there for three days, the 20th Armored moved on. Seltzer had taken many pictures. After Dachau, the 20th moved toward the Elbe River and the meeting with the Russian Army. That was where the war came to an end for him. The situation at Dachau was unforgettable. Nearly seven decades after the war, Seltzer retraced the locations he went through during the war. He went from England to Munich, Germany where he visited the camp at Dachau. The 20th Armored troops had stayed three days in Dachau before they moved along. Seltzer stayed a few days beyond that because of his Signal Corps association. He saw Eisenhower in Dachau. The commander was very busy. Seltzer turned his pictures over to the Signal Corps except for a few he brought home. While in Dachau, he spoke a little German to some of the inmates. He had taken German in high school because it was close to the Jewish language that he had to learn as a child. There were only six low ranking SS troops in Dachau when the Americans arrived. The weak inmates would have killed the six guards, but the Americans wanted to interrogate them. The American troops’ first reaction to seeing the starving inmates was to give them food. They were quickly told by the medical group not to feed the inmates because of their depleted condition. Too much food could kill them. After the war, Seltzer discovered more about what happened to the inmates.


Arthur Seltzer came home after the end of the war. He was discharged and never wanted to talk about his experiences. He just wanted to get back to normal life and go to college and get a job. His parents only knew of his involvement in D-Day. They never knew of his participation in the liberation of a concentration camp. His granddaughter asked him about the Holocaust. He helped her with her report on the subject. She received an A on the report. When her teacher found out the information was from her grandfather, she wanted him to speak to the class. Seltzer’s granddaughter volunteered him to speak before the class. He could not let her down even though he did not feel like he was a public speaker. He talked as calmly as he could to the class. The granddaughter’s teacher urged him to discuss his experiences with others in order to discredit the Holocaust deniers. Seltzer worked with a representative from a Holocaust Museum near him. Her name was Helen Kirshmaum [Annotator’s Note: unsure of spelling]. She was pleased to meet a concentration camp liberator. At that point, Seltzer began speaking at various schools. Children have written letters to Seltzer expressing their satisfaction at listening to a liberator. Seltzer has searched for survivors from the Dachau camp he helped liberate. While visiting a Holocaust Museum in Ohio, Seltzer’s niece found a list of six survivors who lived in that state. The niece and her friends made contact with one of them and determined that he would be interested in speaking with a camp liberator. The niece gave Seltzer the number and he called the survivor. The survivor remembered the liberation of the camp including the incident of Seltzer taking pictures of inmates lined up along a fence. The survivor was in the picture and offered to identify which individual he was in the picture. When Seltzer called back, the survivor was in the hospital but the wife identified her husband in the photograph. Prior to his planned trip to Dachau, Seltzer attempted to make contact again with the survivor but the telephone had been disconnected. Seltzer has also been thanked for saving the life of another Holocaust survivor. It was during a speaking engagement at a synagogue when a young person came up to him and showed appreciation for the liberation of his uncle. Seltzer spoke to the survivor in Florida by telephone. The two men spoke for awhile. The man thought that he was in the photograph that Seltzer took of surviving inmates. A story was told that brought chills to Seltzer. The survivor told of a final meeting with his father just after the liberation of the camp. The father and the son had been inmates in the same camp but never knew it until that moment. Because of his weakened state, the father only lasted two weeks despite medical attention that was given to him by the Americans. If the Americans had not arrived, the lack of food would have been fatal for many more inmates. The survivor indicated the barrack that he was held in at Dachau. When Seltzer reached Dachau, almost all of the barracks had been removed. In place of the barrack structure, a cement block with the barrack number had been erected. Seltzer took a picture of the man’s barrack block indicator and sent it to the survivor. Another Dachau survivor who lived in Chicago also requested that Seltzer send him a copy of the liberation photograph so that he could see if he was in the picture.


Most of the inmates of the Dachau concentration camp spoke Hebrew which Arthur Seltzer could somewhat communicate with because of his Jewish background. Most could not believe they were liberated. They felt they could not have lived much longer because of lack of food. Every morning they hoped they were picked for a work detail by their captors because they would be fed a minimal amount of food. If not on work detail, no food would be allowed until the midday meal. That meal was not very much either. Seltzer learned a lot about Dachau when he became a public speaker regarding its liberation. He came to learn that Dachau was built in 1933 for political prisoners opposed to Hitler. It was also used to eliminate Jewish people who had committed no crime other than being Jewish. Built to hold 2,000 to 3,000 inmates, at the height of the war, it held 66,000 inmates. Each barracks had an inmate picked to be in charge. The barracks chief had to discipline those under him to follow the orders of the SS troops. Morning roll call tallied the inmates. At that point, the barracks chief would be told how many less had to be in the barracks the next morning. He was responsible for getting the head count reduced by picking those who would go to their death. After a few weeks, the barracks chief himself would be executed and a new chief named to replace him. That was the pattern followed by the Nazis. Seltzer learned of this as he researched what was done at Dachau. He also learned of the experiments conducted on inmates by the Nazis. None of the inmates involved in the experimentation survived the experience. Seltzer has a list of the experiments that were done at the death camp.


Arthur Seltzer and his unit [Annotator’s Note: Seltzer served in the 4th Signal Battalion and was attached to the 20th Armored Division at this time] left Dachau and continued moving forward. As they proceeded, they advised headquarters on the progress being made. Fighting had significantly tapered off. They reached the Elbe River where they met the Russians. The female Russian soldiers were proficient at drinking gin and vodka. The war came to an end after Seltzer met the Russians at the Elbe. He had enough points to return home in September 1945. The 4th Signal Battalion was instructed to install communications from Paris to Bonn, Germany. After completion of that task, Seltzer was able to return home in January 1946. Having not been home on leave for years, he was happy as a lark to return. After discharge, it took a few weeks for Seltzer to organize himself and plan his next step. His first thought was to attend the University of Miami to complete his education. He planned to use the GI Bill of Rights and participate in the 52-20 Club. That allowed an unemployed returning veteran to receive 20 dollars a week for 52 weeks. As he walked down the street in Philadelphia, he spotted a building with flags out front. When he walked in, he noticed radio equipment scattered all over the floor. He recognized the equipment as the same type that he operated in Europe during the war. The store owner must have acquired it in a surplus sale. There were other electronics such as televisions in the store. A man came up to Seltzer and they discussed the equipment. The store owner heard the discussion and offered Seltzer a job since he was familiar with the equipment. At first, Seltzer refused. When the owner persisted and offered 25 dollars a week salary, Seltzer accepted the job offer. When Seltzer told his father of the situation, the elder Seltzer told him that he had done the right thing. Seltzer went to night school and graduated. He worked for the Almo Company for 45 years, becoming an executive vice president. The company became the second largest electronics company in the country. The company revenue doubled during Seltzer’s tenure with them. The business line has changed over the years, but they are still in business. Seltzer saw that the Russians had no compassion for the German people. They had experienced the harshness of the German offensive into their country. They had no mercy on their enemy as they advanced through his country. If Patton [Annotator’s Note: General George S. Patton] had his way, he would have moved on Berlin. Patton was not a good politician but he was a good general. After a week on the Elbe River, Seltzer’s outfit withdrew to Peine, Germany. While with the Russians, most of the time was spent in celebration of Germany’s defeat. Seltzer was not a drinker so he stayed sober. Not much was said of the harsh treatment of the Germans by the Russians. He heard of Hitler’s death during the time on the Elbe. The details of Hitler’s death were not discovered until Seltzer reached Peine, Germany.


Arthur Seltzer matured very quickly as a result of the war. He was 18 when he was drafted and 19 on Omaha Beach. He was 20 years old when he liberated the concentration camp at Dachau. He has always felt that he missed the best years of his life as a result of those experiences. Nevertheless, without the sacrifice of those who fought the enemy in World War II, the people in the United States might be speaking German or Japanese. Seltzer was drafted and served his country best in the Signal Corps. He sees some of the same things occurring in the world today as he saw prior to the war he fought in. Many wars have been fought since the end of his war. He is concerned for his children and grandchildren. Little help is provided to the young people who are burdened with college loans. Money is being spent in a direction that he does not always approve of. People who are voted into office that do not do their job should be voted out of office. Seltzer tells young people to educate themselves on the record of people who are running for office. The National WWII Museum has done a great thing in displaying what the veterans did for this country. Many people are not aware of what has gone on. The National WWII Museum is one of the finest in the country.

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