February 19, 2017
Heroes are often not seen or known. Good deeds are often not recognized, nor or they necessarily dramatic. I share this story with you to remember that simply doing the right thing can be heroic.
The work of helping the survivors then began...
Connie found the state of the survivors at Dachau Concentration camp horrific. The camp was littered with the dead. She said when the prisoners understood that the American soldiers and nurses were arriving they smiled if they could and applauded. The survivors were starving, their rib cages and bones quite visible. Many were diseased. Connie said that typhoid and cholera and other diseases were not uncommon. The medical staff kept her away from the highly infectious patients as she was small and underweight herself.
The nurses were offered the quarters of the medical and administrative staff, but upon finding out that some of the furnishings were made from human remains, they declined and remained in the regular camp on the grounds.
Connie remembered preparing a kind of gruel for the camp survivors that was like porridge. It was filled with vitamins, minerals, and proteins that they needed. The prisoners were frightened of nurses from their previous experiences. They would not eat the gruel Connie had prepared for them until she ate some herself! She tasted it, and said “Sehr gut!” They laughed but began eating when she offered it.
She remembers one younger gentleman who was tall and very thin. He would smile at her and seemed so happy to be treated decently. She remembered a very young girl with white hair that seemed to have been the subject of an experiment. It was all very disturbing and touching at the same time.
Eventually, after several weeks the survivors were dismissed to their country of origin. Connie finished her nursing and military duty and returned home. She mentioned to me more than once that these experiences had changed her life and made her a deeper person.