NCO ROBERT A MILLER “A” BATTERY, 494 FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION 12TH ARMORED DIVISION
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 20th 1982, Pastor Robert A. Miller was invited by the Jewish community of Miami, Florida to share what he saw as a young GI, when his unit, the 12th Armored Division of the United States, liberated prisoners from a Dachau subcamp called Kaufering IV in Landsberg, Germany.
This is his testimony...
HALLELUJAH! World War II in Europe was over! We were nearing the German border when our radio crackled the good news – the Germans had surrendered! The Nazi armies were crushed, Hitler was dead and Germany lay in ruins. One hundred and fifty three days on the line with only one break for R & R, now the war was over.
We immediately made tracks back to the heart of Germany to help govern and bring order out of the chaos. Thirty-one months before, I had joined the U.S. Army and had been serving as a gunner on a 105MM Howitzer and later as an NCO with “A” Battery, 494 Field Artillery Battalion, of the 12th Armored Division. The 12th Armored Division helped spear-head General “Blood and Guts” Patton’s Third Army into Germany. Because of our ferocious advance through Southern Germany, the Division lived up to our nickname - “Hellcats.” Because we moved fast, our password was “Speed.” Now our final assignment was to block the German troops streaming home from Italy.
As we approached the town of Landsberg am Lech, our convoy came upon an unusual concentration camp. [Landsberg was where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”.] Detouring slightly, we drove up to the front gate. Two U.S. solders stood guard. They firmly informed us that the camp was off limits[due to Typhus]. My commander was not to be put off so easily. He heard of the Nazi death camps and wanted a first hand look. He ordered me to drive around back. As we circled the camp, we came upon a large hole in the fence. We crawled through the hole. Regaining our footing, we looked around and were stunned. We had been through months of combat. Death, dying soldiers and destruction all around us had been common sights. We were combat-hardened, but we were horrified at what we saw.
We walked between row upon row of bodies stacked like cordwood, only not neatly piled like cordwood. Bodies so emaciated they looked like skeletons with skin stretched over bones. Being so close to the Alps, the weather was still cold, but many of those skeletal bodies had on a flimsy, striped pajama-type top or bottom. None that I saw had both top and bottom. These starved and tortured people were housed in A-frame shacks with wide openings on either end with no doors. The freezing wind could whip through with no problem. The “bunk” was one large shelf on either side approximately three feet off the floor. Similar to the type formerly used by slave ships. No mattresses, pillows or covers could be seen. Several other GIs [American soldiers] found a way into the camp. Some were taking pictures and weeping at the horror of it all. We were informed that many others, though rescued and still alive, were doomed to die. So starved, there was no way to save them.
As we walked back to the jeep, our minds were numbed by this horrendous scene and of man's inhumanity to his fellow man. Some may say it never happened. But, I saw the evil of the Holocaust or Shoah, which means catastrophe.
Where was the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob during these oppressive years? Standing in Jerusalem 36 years later, the answer was made plain. The approach to the museum of the Holocaust [Yad Vashem] is lined on either side by numerous carob trees planted in honor of "Righteous Gentiles." Each tree was identified with a nameplate stuck in the ground beneath the tree.
We walked to one of the trees, and read the little sign. It said, "Corrie ten Boom-A Righteous Gentile." [Corrie was a Dutch-Christian survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. She and her family hid Jewish people during the German occupation of Holland.]
Corrie and many other Gentiles like her had risked their lives daily to show God's love to a weary and beleaguered people-a great and courageous people who, in 1948, had finally come home.
Pastor Miller was a faithful preacher of the gospel who loved the Jewish people deeply, and believed the Holocaust was perpetrated by people who neither believed in nor feared the true God of Scripture. Pastor Miller was my teacher, mentor and friend. He entered the Lord's presence in 2010, and was buried in Bushnell National Cemetery in Florida. His legacy of love and truth lives on.