eberhart1

 

Dee Eberhart was one of the liberators

of the 42the Rainbow division of the U.S. Army,

who was there when liberation finally came for Dachau.

Dee R. Eberhart, Rifleman, 1st Scout,

Company I, 242nd Infantry Regiment,

42nd Rainbow Division, on the morning of May 3, 1945,

east of Munich shortly before our assault boat crossing of the Inn River.

Photo taken by Jack Parry, a buddy in my squad, with a box camera borrowed from a Bavarian farm house.

 

Dutch Memorial Ceremony

This is the text of the speech of Dee Eberhart at:

KZ Dachau Block 29, Dutch Memorial Ceremony, April 29, 2010, 17:00

Survivors, family members, dignitaries and friends:

Sixty-five years ago, to the hour, we came together in freedom and liberation. We are only a few now who survived both those bad times and the good times, which followed. Heartfelt greetings especially to you survivors as we mourn the absence of those we have lost.

My brief poem for this occasion follows, dedicated to the survivors of KZ Dachau:

Dedicated to the survivors of KZ Dachau

 

BEATING THE ODDS

 
We both beat the odds,
Against the enemy, one and the same.
You in the camps,
We in the Infantry.
 
This is a lasting bond,
With odds that we both would fall,
Unless the enemy finally fell.
We as survivors, both before and after
That late April day,
Had discovered the secret of
Beating the Odds.
 
One of you told me
That he entered and left
Twelve different camps.
“How did you survive?” I asked.
“Luck” he said.
“An ounce of luck
Beats a kilogram of skill.”
And luck is needed
To beat the odds.
 
We all suffered the cold,
But we had three layers of wool,
And you had ersatz cloth
With no warmth.
We both faced death daily,
But we had rifles in hand,
And you had only empty hands.
 
We all wonder
At the miracle of survival
And greet each day as a special gift.
Luck or Providence needed
In those deadly times,
65 years ago,
With the deck stacked against us,
But we found the ways
To beat those odds.
 
 

 

65th Anniversary Liberation of KZ Dachau

There are only a few of us left who were at KZ Dachau on April 29, 1945. For me it began on a bright sunny morning in a one way traffic jam of trucks and tanks headed toward Munich filling the lanes of the Autobahn. By late afternoon the battalion my platoon was with had been diverted toward Dachau and we were on foot again, spread out in a loose skirmish line approaching what appeared to me to be a factory complex.

From then until almost dark it was confusion and chaos inside and outside of the wire. There was

some sporadic shooting, and a number of former prisoners outside the wire would rush up and embrace us. Finally my platoon made its way into the edge of the town of Dachau and took over a couple of houses for the night. The next day we captured Munich, and Hitler committed suicide in Berlin.

My abbreviated biography follows: born in Los Angeles in 1924; graduated from Toppenish High School on the Yakama Indian Reservation, Washington State; 11 days later I was in the U.S. Army; Infantry training; volunteered for Air Corps flight training; Army needed infantry more than pilots; overseas in the fall of 1944 as a rifleman in the 42nd Division; 3 campaigns in 1944/45 (Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe); Westwall attack in March; crossed the Rhine April 1; Wurzburg; Schweinfurt; Furth-Nuremberg; Danube crossing; Dachau; Munich; Taching; Bavaria; V.E. Day; Austrian Occupation; discharged from the
Army April 8, 1946. University of Washington; Northwestern University graduate school (Chicago area). Taught at 3 different colleges/Universities; Intellegence assignment during Korean War; Shell Oil Co. Exploration Crew; Married Barbara, May 2, 1953, 7 children; Partner in an International Real Estate Consulting firm. Set up my own consulting and development companies; farm and orchard operations. Retired as Professor Emeritus from Central Washington University.

Two poems accompany this, “April” and “Dachau - Return And Farewell” which portray my feelings a little better than the foregoing text.

 

APRIL

 
I knew that “April is the Cruelest month,”
before Eliot spoke to me,
in his “Waste Land,”
in his “Burial Of The Dead.”
 
I knew it after April 1,
that year, Easter, a renewal day,
of life and hope everlasting.
Five days later they
buried our dead.
 
I knew it when April
just one-third gone,
instead of lilacs in
full perfume, shells burst
on us, black-gray and acrid,
in full springtime flower.
 
I knew it when
friends in the cellar
where we dove for cover,
laughed at the shelling,
ate home canned peaches,
and cared not that we
escaped through a miracle
of the conical burst, vase
shaped for the bouquet delivered.
 
I knew it when
the heat of April, not yet half gone,
had melted away our rifle company.
Our president died, and
no one much cared.
When a buddy was hit,
quiet incantation,
“I’m glad it wasn’t me.”
 
I knew it in those later years,
when we drank too much,
followed by tears and rage and
silent guilt, but by then, it was too late,
to atone for the cruelty of April,
of the war, and the men who fought
and also suffered.
 
I knew that April and the war
would end together,
but not quite. One last
cruelty, the worst,
lay open before us –
in the death train, at the
crematorium, behind the wire.
 
Tomorrow it will all be ended
and we victors and victims
can proudly proclaim –
NIE WIEDER
JAMAIS PLUS
NIKOGDA BOLSHE
NEVER AGAIN.
 
We could feel it coming.
Summer did not in the least surprise us,
coming over the Taching See.
Summer was early that year,
exactly on the 8th of May.
Summer ended that cruelest April.
But next year April comes again.
 
Dee R. Eberhart, April 10, 2000

 

Dachau – Return And Farewell

Drawn together by the Dachau magnet,
From throughout Europe,
From every country,
From across America,
From every state,
Those imprisoned innocents,
Those who fought
To kill the tyrant,
Met in turmoil,
Death and sorrow,
Raging fury and jubilation.
 
The din has ceased.
The smoke has cleared.
This uneasy place is quiet now.
The shuffling gait and
Slumping file of despair and anguish,
Are survivors' lasting memories only.
 
Those who reached out
From inside the wire
To those who stared in disbelief,
Look now, just once more,
Deep into each others eyes.
See half-hidden there,
Remembered pain from
Injuries past and comrades dead,
In KZ Lagers,
On battlefields.
All victims of the
Same dark force.
A pain unending,
Despite that sunlit
Springtime moment,
When gunfire ended,
Guard towers emptied,
And life and hope
Returned once more.
 
Raise a glass.
Extend a hand.
Salute to all of the survivors.
Final victors uber alles.
Final victors over evil.
Sante -- good friends.
Farewell.
Dedicated to those who were there, former prisoners and the U.S. Army Infantry.