Davis, Charles

Davis, Charles


The oldest of thirteen children, Davis was born in Detroit in 1917. In July 1937, he was drafted into the army and had his basic training in Texas. After his basic training, he was stationed in Fort Jackson in North Carolina. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he was assigned to a machine-gun squad on the West Coast. He then was as a courier in the infantry. Later on, his division moved to Ireland, where they trained for the invasion to Europe. Davis says that all of this time he was not aware of what was happening to the Jews in Europe. On July 4th, he landed at Utah Beach and after a short time he had his first combat experience, which he describes as terrible. From Utah Beach, he and his division moved through Paris to Germany. All the time, Davis served as a courier.

When Davis’s division liberated a concentration camp (Woebbelin?), he did not know what was inside. He was very shocked when he saw all the dead bodies lying around and their sweet, oily smell in the air. He remembers that he saw gas chambers and ovens with corpses. The next day, people from the town nearby had to come to remove the dead bodies. Davis was in the camp only one time but he had nightmares for the next ten years. He took pictures in the concentration camp, which he showed in the interview. After the liberation of the camp, his division had a rest period for one week and then was sent back to America. Back home, in June 1945, Davis wanted to share his experiences, but none of his relatives believed him or wanted to listen. In July 1945 he got married and now has five children now. He states that he would serve as a soldier again and that he wants to let the people know what happened, because it could happen again.

Interview Information:

Date: June 29, 1995
Interviewer: Donna Sklar
Length: 55 minutes
Format: Video recording