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"But then came the horror and cruelty beyond one's imagination could ponder upon. There was Dachau, Buchenwald, and more camps about, where civilization was simply wiped out." (Video interview, 1:24:04)

   Benjamin D. Cooper
Image of Benjamin D. Cooper
Benjamin Cooper [11/23/2010]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 45th Infantry Division
Service Location: Camp Barkeley, Texas
Rank: Technician Five
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Technician Fifth Grade Benjamin Cooper did not write many letters home to his wife during his time serving as a front-line combat medic in operations in France and Germany. The number of comrades he had lost made him superstitious about such things. Once the fighting ended, however, he wrote her a poem that reflected on the horrors he had witnessed. Assigned to the 45th Infantry Division during the drive into Germany that ended the war in Europe, Cooper endured intense combat operations such the Battle of Nuremburg and was among the first American troops to enter the concentration camp at Dachau. As a Jewish American, Cooper was profoundly disturbed by the atrocities of the Holocaust. After staying silent about the war for 45 years, Cooper began speaking to school children about his wartime experiences. In these talks, he emphasized the importance of standing up to bullies and treating others with kindness in our everyday lives.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (98 min.)
»Transcript
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Being called upon to assist a buddy of his who was killed by a piece of shrapnel (00:40) Assigned to a platoon as their medic; describing his admiration for the Native American soldiers he worked with (01:48) Involved in bitter fighting that lasted a few days to capture and re-capture the town of Wingen in Alsace-Lorraine (01:34)
Involvement in Battle of Nuremburg; taking a German medical kit off of a captured German medic (05:07) Meeting a Jewish family while on R&R in France, who had three young daughters; father gave Cooper his cloth Star of David that he had been forced to wear by the Nazis; reconnecting with one of the daughters many years later. (04:05) Ordered to the concentration camp at Dachau the day after it was liberated; description of the horrific conditions in the camp. (04:08)
Observing German prisoners-of-war, including Herman Goering, being marched through Munich after the end of the war; saw the public’s continued support for Goering. (00:49) How he stopped writing to his wife during the war because he saw it as bad luck; reading a poetic letter he wrote to his wife after the fighting ended (04:08) 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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