Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project: Interview with Edmund Motzko
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Edmund Motzko was born in Barabeau (?), Minnesota, and attended school and graduated from high school in Clarissa, Minnesota. Jobs were scarce at that time, and he became interested in the armed forces. He joined the National Guard for a one-year term in June of 1940, but in February of 1941 the National Guard was federalized and he was sent to camp in California, his location when war was declared. After two years stationed on the West Coast, Motzko and others from his unit were transferred into another unit that had been unable to pass its overseas test, and with the new members the unit was sent to the East Coast and then to England. In September of 1944 he landed in Normandy, and he entered combat in Holland on Thanksgiving Day of 1944. While moving through Germany his unit came upon a slave labor camp and opened its gates. Later, in April of 1945, he visited Gardelegen just two days after more than one thousand mostly Jewish prisoners were killed in a single incident in which a large building was bombed, shot at and burned down with the prisoners inside. After the war Motzko returned to the United States, married and had two children. He was semi-retired and living in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, at the time of the interview. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Motzko's military service prior to going to Europe; anti-Hitler and anti-Nazi feelings during the war, but little awareness of persecution of Jews; his unit's liberation of a labor camp, and a discussion with an American woman living in Germany near the camp who was afraid that the prisoners would kill her and others if they were released; searching for SS soldiers in order to get revenge for Nazi acts during the war; visiting Gardelegen and seeing smoldering bodies of about one thousand men and boys who had been burned to death; taking photos with a camera he had confiscated; speaking with a Hungarian Jew who had escaped the building before it was set on fire; his assignment to guard and protect German prisoners from camp survivors who wanted to kill the Germans; a letter he wrote to his parents a few days after seeing what happened at Gardelegen (he reads the full letter into the oral history recording).
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
11 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:49:02 running time
Creation Interviewee: Motzko, Edmund S.
Interviewer: Kibort, Sandy
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 04/20/1982
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 52.9
Accession Number AV1996.48.9
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project'

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