The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/p/powers.robert/press/omaha.950510

                Copyright 1995 Omaha World-Herald Company
                            Omaha World Herald

                   May 10, 1995 Wednesday CHASER EDITION


LENGTH: 592 words

HEADLINE: WWII Veteran Spreads Word On Holocaust


   When Robert Powers came home from World War II he thought the fight
against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis was over forever.

Fifty years later, Powers said in Omaha Tuesday, he finds himself battling
a similar enemy he finds just as evil.

Powers, 72, came home from the war and busied himself with raising a family
and pursuing a career in the oil industry.

He tried to wipe from his mind the horrors he had seen when his 103rd
Infantry Division liberated German concentration camps during the final
weeks of the war.

Then, in 1991, the retired corporate executive started seeing newspaper
advertisements and articles about groups denying the existence of the
Holocaust in which more than six million Jews were killed.

"These 'deniers' were well-organized and well-funded," said Powers, of
Woodlands, Texas, which is about 25 miles north of Houston.

"I was shocked, then angered," he said. "There was a gross injustice. It
was the most inhumane treatment man has ever committed against man. And now
it's being denied." Powers will talk tonight about the concentration camps
he saw and the importance of never forgetting the horror of the Holocaust.

He will speak at 7:30 tonight at Joslyn Art Museum. The program was
organized on the 50th anniversary of World War II to honor U.S. veterans
who liberated Nazi concentration camps and those who were freed.

The Anti-Defamation League is sponsoring the program.

"We have to get it documented," Powers said. "And we have to get people
educated so it won't happen again." Powers served with the 103rd Division
as it moved through France, went through the Battle of the Bulge and
eventually marched into Germany.

Powers saw the concentration camp in Landsberg hours after his unit had
liberated it.

The dying and dead were sprawled all over the camp's grounds, Powers said.
Many had been shot and tossed into pits that served as mass graves.

These were the tormenting images that came to his mind when Powers read
that hate groups were traveling the country to spread a message that the
Holocaust never happened.

"I saw the inside of the camp," Powers said. "I knew the Holocaust did
occur." Powers gathered copies of the newspaper articles and other

He took it to a reunion of his unit in Chicago in 1993.

His fellow soldiers were just as horrified as he was.

"When this was discussed, there were a bunch of tears flowing," Powers
said. "They couldn't believe it." The division passed a resolution strongly
condemning anyone who tried to deny the Holocaust. Its leaders said they
were committed to countering the lies.

Powers collected dozens of letters from his fellow soldiers who told him
what they witnessed of Hitler's "Final Solution." He compiled the letters,
newspaper articles and other information in a 112-page book. The book now
is in the National Archives, at least a dozen university libraries, public
libraries and Holocaust memorial centers.

Powers said he has devoted many hours and traveled many miles spreading his

"People who deny it are doing two injustices," Powers said. "One to the
millions and millions who were slaughtered in the camps. And second to the
thousands of our buddies who were killed and wounded liberating those
camps." Powers said the veterans who witnessed the enormity of the Nazi
camps must pass the word to younger generations.

"I didn't do this to be a hero or gain any glory," Powers said. "It was
just something that had to be done."

GRAPHIC: Mug/1; ROBERT POWERS: "I saw the inside" of a concentration camp,
he said., World-Herald/1

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