Speech on behalf of the IDC at the former roll-call grounds
70th anniversary of Liberation Day
3 May 2015
Words of Jean Samuel
29 April 1945 was the most wonderful day of my life. When the U.S. soldiers took over the camp, I realised that I would once again be free and that the nightmare had ended. I was overcome by feelings of joy and happiness.
Assembled on the roll-call grounds, with all nationalities mixed together, a huge crowd cheered the soldiers. And, as if by magic, the flags of every country flapped in the wind.
|29 April 1945|
The GI's who entered the camp could were struck dumb by the piles of bodies and the skeletal survivors: they were awed by the horror of it all. After hot showers and using DDT to get rid of my lice, I felt I was coming back to life as a human being.
I had the joy of receiving news of France from a few French soldiers.
On 10 May 1945, I was back in Paris and re-united with my family.
I was 21 years old and decided to forget Dachau. I wanted to live life. The war had stolen my youth.
In 1947, I married, had 2 children, and since that time, it's been pure happiness.
When I returned, I said nothing of my experience. People had no idea what deportation meant.
I put Dachau away in a corner of my memory, nevertheless bringing it forth again every 2nd of July in order to commemorate the death march from Compiègne to Dachau and the hundreds of victims.
When I retired, I joined the French friends association and the International Dachau Committee. Having put the suffering behind me, I can calmly hark back to that time as a witness of the unspeakable. But we are called on for remembrance. And we have succeeded in doing so: all of you here are proof of that.
Today, as the eldest survivor, I am speaking for the first time on the Appelplatz, an honour in which I wish to include my comrades from the Resistance and the Deportation, with whom I feel special bonds.
Thank you, everyone. And I would like to renew my heartfelt gratitude to the American people.