Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project: Interview with Arthur Johnson
Part 1


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Arthur L. Johnson was born in Hudson, Wisconsin, grew up there, and then studied economics and sociology at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. He graduated and was drafted in 1941, went to England in January of 1944, and landed in France on June 18, twelve days after the invasion began. As part of the Army's supply services, handling ammunition, Johnson had business near Buchenwald about two weeks after its liberation in April of 1945. The dead and dying prisoners had been taken away, but most prisoners were still there, and military police were in charge of security. He went to the camp to see for himself what was being written about in the Army newspaper "Stars and Stripes". After the war Johnson went to graduate school and became a professor. His college studies and involvement with African American soldiers during the war interested him in the civil rights movement, and he also was in the Army Reserve from 1953 to 1970. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Reports in "Stars and Stripes" about discovery of concentration camps; living conditions at Buchenwald; conversation with prisoners, mostly through translators; juxtaposition of the concentration camp and high German culture such as Goethe and Beethoven; physical layout of the camp; process of mass killing and burial; possibility that the discovery of Buchenwald sped the war's end, because the Allied troops tried to move quickly in order to reach other camps and save prisoners; ethnicity of prisoners at Buchenwald; practice of selling a dead prisoner's ashes to surviving relatives; racial conflict within American troops; pacifism, protests of the Vietnam War, and deciding when war is necessary; slowdown of the American civil rights movement since the early 1970s; his two returns to Europe with no desire to see a camp again.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
10 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:37:17 running time
Creation Interviewee: Johnson, Arthur
Interviewer: Lewin, Rhoda Greene
Dates Creation: 11/24/1986
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 52.4
Accession Number AV1996.48.4
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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