Speech on behalf of the IDC at the former roll-call grounds
jean samuel

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.

 

gevangenen vlaggen hoodfgebouw belgische vlag bevrijders
vlaggen blauwit gevangenen vlaggen appelplaats gevangenen vlaggen
  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.

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.