1917 Clinton, Iowa, USA
U.S Army Witness:
Dachau Concentration Camp
Bob Eisenstein was born in Clinton, Iowa.
Bob graduated from University of Chicago.
Bob was drafted into the army. He reported for duty on August 13, 1941. Bob went to Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia and then on to Camp Eustis in Virginia for basic training. He was stationed at Fort Hancock, New Jersey when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered the war.
Bob applied for officer’s candidate school and trained at Camp Davis in North Carolina. Later, he was assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas and the 410th anti-aircraft gun battalion.
Bob trained for desert maneuvers under George S. Patton just east of Indio, California in preparation for war. His unit was sent back to New York City for deployment to North Africa. He was then sent back to New York and shipped overseas, landing in Oran, Algeria in North Africa in May 1943.
During this time, he was in Tunis, Tunisia in preparation for the invasion of Italy, called Operation Husky. The American army landed in Sicily. Bob’s unit was transferred to Sardinia and Corsica as the fighting moved north. While in Corsica, the unit was used when the harbor was bombed. In Italy, they guarded the harbor of Naples for months and trained there for Anzio.
Ultimately, Bob’s unit did not get involved in Anzio during Operation Shingle.
They waited in Sardinia until Africa was secure, and they were then sent to Southern France by ship after D-day. Bob landed in southern France in August of 1944 as part of Operation Dragoon.
He was saved from being sent to Battle of the Bulge because he wore glasses, and the army did not want any gun captains with glasses.
They moved to Germany and they used the one remaining building, Darmstadt, as headquarters. They left these headquarters, vacating when the Seventh Army under Colonel Patton demanded the building.
In the latter part of March, Bob’s unit they went to an airbase town, Fürstenfeldbruck. The area was full of German prisoners. They became the 561st group headquarters battalion, and they took over a city block for headquarters. The town was not far from Munich and an hour from Dachau; this was the first time Bob heard about the camps. The houses in the town had basements full of shoes, human hair, clothing, and so on between five houses. They did not enter these basements out of fear of booby-traps. One house had records of the people that were in Dachau. They discovered all of this before the liberation of Dachau. The American Military Government took the records. Out of curiosity, Bob took a jeep and went to the Dachau camp. He took a sergeant from the medical corps who could speak Yiddish with him. They arrived and had to must be disinfected due to the typhus outbreak. They entered the camp and met a former inmate who took them around and shared stories of what had occurred.
May 8: The war in Europe ended. Only after Bob returned to America did he realize the magnitude of the Holocaust, particularly as a Jew.