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Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project: Interview with Donald J. Dean
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Donald Dean was born in 1911 on a farm near Ashby, Minnesota, and moved to Minneapolis in 1929 after finishing high school. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and went overseas in 1944. As a warrant officer handling ordnance (supplies of weapons and ammunition, and maintenance of vehicles) he participated in the Battle of the Bulge and later moved through Germany into Austria. Near Linz, Austria, he heard of a concentration camp nearby and made an unofficial trip to it with his friend and fellow ordnance officer Bennett Gordon. The camp was Malthausen, which seemed to have been liberated a day earlier. After the war, Dean, his wife and their two young sons lived in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, for seven years and then moved to Willmar, Minnesota, to run a business selling replacement parts to farmers. Over the years he showed pictures of the concentration camp to some people privately and talked about it with his sons, but this interview was just the second time he discussed the experience publicly. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Being shipped overseas on the Queen Mary with Winston Churchill aboard; his duties regarding ordnance; prisoners who, after being freed, had walked down the road until they collapsed with exhaustion; a Russian prisoner who spoke English and showed Dean and Gordon around the camp; mass graves, and methods of burial; seeing a gas chamber full of bodies; freed prisoners seaching for and killing camp guards; files listing each prisoner's nationality, name, birth date, serial number, date of death, and the total number of dead when the prisoner was killed; wartime accustomization to death; the smell of the camp; prisoners' problems with eating; prisoners' ethnicities; a quarry in which prisoners were forced to cut stone for construction; prisoners who seemed to have become insane; Dean's social and business contact with Jewish people before and after the war; his feelings about the experience.
1.5 hours sound cassette
10 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
00:41:09 running time
Interviewee: Dean, Donald J.
Interviewer: Lewin, Rhoda Greene
Made in: Willmar, Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 52.2 (Library Call Number)
AV1996.48.2 (Accession Number)
MHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project'