Rockford man talks about liberating WWII concentration camp - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford man talks about liberating WWII concentration camp

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By Marissa Sherer

ROCKFORD (WREX) - The son of a U.S. Lieutenant Colonel during World War II tells the story of how his father helped liberate an Austrian concentration camp.

People in Rockford heard parts of that story today, along with a first hand account from a former solider.

Bob Persinger and his comrades in the 3rd Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron entered the Ebensee Concentration Camp on May 6, 1945. He says what was there is something he'll never forget.

"Bodies lying here and there. People with no clothes on, some with just a top, others with just a bottom. Some with shoes, some with no shoes. It was a horrible place," Bob Persinger remembers.

The sights at Ebensee Concentration Camp, according to Bob Persinger were horrific, so were the smells.

"You could tell the terrible smell about 100 to 150 yards away from the main gate," he said.

Persinger, who lives in Rockford, was one of the first soldiers to enter the death camp. German guards left the day before, but almost 17,000 prisoners were still there. Dr. Richard Macdonald's father, a Lieutenant Colonel with an evacuation hospital, cared for many of those prisoners.

For some reason, the liberation of Ebensee never made it into the United States National Archives.

"Basically I'm trying to put them back into the history books," Dr. Richard Macdonald, author of "Inside the Gates: The Nazi Concentration Camp at Ebensee, Austria" said.

Dr. Macdonald talked with Persinger to get information about the liberation of the camp for his book.

"Dick would call me and ask questions, and I'd give him as much knowledge as I had of it," Persinger said.

Today, the two met face to face for another reason.

"I just wanted to come up and hand Bob the book and autograph it to him," Dr. Macdonald said.

"Its a beautiful book, and I'm excited that he's here," Persinger said.

Dr. Macdonald's book, "Inside the Gates: The Nazi Concentration Camp at Ebensee, Austria" is on sale now.

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