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Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project: Interview with William McConahey
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Dr. William M. McConahey was born May 7, 1916, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved at age nine to Sharon, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1942, took a commission in the Army and was called to active duty on July 17, 1943. He was assigned as an assistant battalion surgeon and sailed to England in March of 1944. On June 8, 1944, two days after D-Day, McConahey landed in Normandy, France, leading an aid station of thirty-two men who gave first aid to wounded soldiers before sending them for more extensive care. While moving across Germany with the Third Army in early 1945, McConahey heard Army reports of concentration camps, and in late April of 1945 his division liberated the Flossenburg concentration camp. McConahey went there a day afterward to work as a medical officer and to witness the scene for himself. He was there for four or five hours before having to return to his own troops, which were moving across Germany toward Czechoslovakia. A few months after the war ended, McConahey also traveled to the Dachau concentration camp. After the war McConahey returned to the United States for training and a career in internal medicine. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: The Allied invasion of Normandy; his duties as leader of an aid station just behind the front line of combat; Flossenburg concentration camp, which could hold 15,000 prisoners, and where 60,000 to 100,000 people passed through or were killed; the camp's crematory, which was still being operated by a few prisoners when McConahey arrived; physical condition of the prisoners and their barracks; difficulty in feeding the survivors, who were unable to eat regular food; Dachau concentration camp, described as "just like Flossenburg, only on a bigger scale"; the whole war's effect on him, convincing him that things like money and power are less important than simply being alive; the difficulty in describing war to people who have not shared such an experience.
1.5 hours sound cassette
12 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
00:51:47 running time
Interviewee: McConahey, William
Interviewer: Zarkin, David
Made in: Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 52.8 (Library Call Number)
AV1996.48.8 (Accession Number)
MNHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project'