Robert Ray, Jr.

Nashville, Tennessee

Born: 1920 Nashville, Tennessee

Liberator: Nordhausen Concentration Camp

“I will never forget April 11,1945. I don’t know that if I hadn’t seen it myself, I would believe it…I honestly can’t tell you that…it was just so, so horrible. But I can tell you…I may not have stayed very long in Nordhausen, but after what I saw…it was long enough.”

Entering Nordhausen, American soldier Robert Ray, Jr. thought it would be just another town. The Nazi guards had fled and the Third Armored Division came upon a cold, dark compound. Electrified fencing surrounded what looked like military barracks. The soldiers used tanks to plow through the center of a wall.

Robert’s first sight is one he will never forget: “Skeletons running towards us…crazed.” Not sure what to do, he and the other troops gave up their only rations…and cigarettes. The prisoners didn’t smoke them; they ate them,” he says. “That’s what starvation did to them.” Robert didn’t write home about the four hours he spent at Nordhausen. In fact, he never spoke about it again, but he says that afternoon at the camp fueled his anger to win the war. Sixty years later, he can still see their faces.