Born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1924, J. Baroff enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 1942. He details his participation in the landing at Omaha Beach and the campaign through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. He was promoted from a machine gunner in the infantry to a sergeant in the 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, Company D. Baroff describes the capture of a “baby factory,” a breeding farm for producing blonde, blue-eyed children from German Aryan soldiers and selected young women.
At Schwerin, Germany, a large town approximately thirty-five miles east of Hamburg, he visited the Wobbelin labor camp, which had been liberated four or five days earlier on May 2, 1945, by the 82nd Airborne Division. The inmates were extremely emaciated and in ill health. Many could not leave their barracks. Baroff states that about 1,000 inmates died the first day from starvation and illness. The labor camp contained political prisoners, Roman Catholic Church officials, Jews, and inmates from other camps evacuated to Wobbelin.
Neither Baroff nor his men had any prior knowledge of the existence of this or other concentration camps. He also states that the local German civilian population claimed that they had no knowledge of the camp or the atrocities that were perpetrated there. Baroff recalls that the German civilians were forcibly shown the camp and afterward the local mayor and his wife committed suicide.
Baroff states that every GI who ever saw a Nazi concentration camp would never forget the experience. “It made an everlasting impression on everyone. The world doesn’t realize that Nazism was a system that did not care for people, but treated them like animals. The people in charge did not believe in God.”
Date: September 7, 1993
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 58 minutes
Format: Video recording