Willie Hall

Old Hickory, Tennessee

Born: 1923 Livingston, Tennessee

Liberator: Nordhausen Concentration Camp

“Just six days after his twentieth birthday, Willie Hall shipped out with the United States Army Signal Corps, bound for Europe. We got word that there were some awful camps at Buchenwald and Nordhausen but no one really suspected the death and torture of millions of Jews. How can anyone imagine that?”

His first memory upon arrival was seeing “sheds, several old sheds full of straw, dirt, and people… thousands of people, just skin and bones, stacked up in these old sheds. Willie remembers the condition of the inmates: “They were abused, tortured, starved… and the suffering…so much damn suffering.“

When Nazi camp guards surrendered or were captured, American troops began asking inmates what they would like to do with them. One said they wanted to make them crawl over the dead bodies that lay everywhere, he says, so we did, we made every Nazi crawl on their hands and knees over the dead inmates.“

Shortly afterward, Willie’s unit shipped out of Nordhausen and headed for Buchenwald; “but I couldn’t go. I refused to go, he recalls.

Willie returned to the United States in 1945 but didn’t talk about the war or what he saw that day for over thirty years. “I couldn’t even think about it. I had horrible nightmares…nightmares for a very long time.“