Liberation

Chaplain Samuel Blinder examines the desecrated Torahs of Frankfurt, 1945

As the US Army drove German troops out of North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, Jewish chaplains were uncertain whether any Jews had survived Nazi occupation. To their joy and pain, Jews came out of hiding wherever the military rabbis appeared, telling their sad tales of loss. The Jewish chaplains reclaimed Jewish children from convents, cleansed and restored desecrated synagogues and tried to rebuild broken Jewish communities.

I went to the Army paint shop, gave them my helmet and asked them to paint the Jewish chaplain's insignia -the two tablets with the Ten Commandments with the Star of David on top of them. With an American Yiddish newspaper in my hand, I repaired to the square of the city. ... Within half an hour I had all the [surviving] Jewish families around me. The scene was most moving. ... One woman shouted almost hysterically, 'I am Jewish! I am Jewish!'

Chaplain Isaac Klein

Photographs: NARA

Chaplain Herschel Schachter Leads a Shavuot Service at Buchenwald, May 18, 1945 Even after liberation of the concentration camps, some Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) remained in them for months, still behind barbed wire fences, until the American military government in Germany established separate camps for Jewish DPs.

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