This account is taken from 1st Lt. Frank Towers’ recollection:
“First of importance was getting food, water and medical assistance to these victims.Our 105th Medical Battalion was called upon to survey this group and give immediate attention to those most in need.The 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Dettmer immediately contacted the Burgomaster of Farsleben, and without any hesitation, ordered the Burgomaster to order his citizens to gather up all of the food, clothing, soap and sanitary supplies, to help the situation that these victims found themselves in. Secondly, they were ordered to offer them any housing facilities that were available, particularly for the elderly and those families with children
The German people caused these victims to be in the situation in which they were found, so therefore it was felt that it was their responsibility to rectify what they had done to them over the past five years.
At first they rebelled at these orders, but upon the threat of execution of the Burgomaster, and with a pistol held to his head, the citizens of Farsleben complied and went about the task which they had been ordered to do.
At this time the Burgomaster began to cooperate, and told his citizens to take some of these Jews into their homes and give them some comfort, which they did, very grudgingly. This was the first taste of “Home” for many of them after some months or years of inhuman incarceration.
Sincemy duties as a Liaison Officer were at a minimum at this point, I was placed in charge of procuring sufficient vehicles on which these 2,500 Jewish victims could be loaded, and to relocate them to Hillersleben, about 10 km distant.
It must be noted here that in most cases, it was not possible to drive directly from “point A to point B” which may in fact be only 5 – 10 km.With bridges on all main roads either bombed or deliberately blown up by the retreating German army, it required navigating over many secondary and unimproved farm roads to find a suitable route to get from “point A to point B”, which in some cases was 25 – 30 km.
Having driven over these roads for the previous few days, I was relatively familiar with these deviations, and was thus chosen for this job.
After loading up these Jewish victims on our trucks and navigating the convoy over a devious route, we arrived at the designated site in Hillersleben, where their custody was turned over to the American Military Government for further processing.
Initially, they were deloused!Their bodies and clothing were totally infested with lice, so they were heavily dusted with DDT, stripped of their clothing, which was burned, given a shower, then re-supplied with adequate clothing, which had been furnished by the people of Farsleben.
Settled in to their new surroundings, here they were given appropriate medical care according to their needs, and fed with adequate but rationed food, and they were eventually processed for repatriation to their homelands.”
Thankful voices from past: Bergen-Belsen concentration camp survivors make contact with WWII medic Walter Gantz