Stasson, Jerome (Stashefsky)
U.S. Service Person, Liberator
England, France, Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany
Mr. Jerome Stasson (Stashefky) was born in 1922 and died on January 3, 2003.
His parents were Bernard and Sylvia and he grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he attended Roosevelt Elementary, Durfee Intermediate and Central High School. His grandfather, Pinchas, came from Poland. His brother, Israel, lives in Israel on Kibbutz Sasa and his sister, Geraldine, lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan and has a television program for Shaarey Zedek Synagogue.
Mr. Stasson was inducted into the United States Army when he finished High School on March 8, 1943 and discharged November 10, 1945. He was originally in the Infantry and then transferred to a division in Columbia, South Carolina, to play in a quartet. Next he went to England and then to France where he arrived at Normandy with the 59th Headquarters Division. Mr. Stasson was in charge of records. He followed General Patton through Europe on to Germany.
None of the soldiers were told what was happening, but heard rumors. He arrived at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp with the first unit. He stood inside the entrance and saw a pile of bodies about ten feet high, all soaked in kerosene. Many near dead came crawling toward him, kissing his feet as he spoke Yiddish to them. All the soldiers were crying and the Polish SS ran out the back of the camp. There were ten or twelve soldiers with him and they stayed for about an hour, in shock, but only advanced into the camp about forty yards, seeing the barracks, but never entering.
Mr. Stasson had written home about what he saw in Buchenwald, but threw away the letters because his mother cried while reading them. He also threw away the pictures he had taken. As he went from town to town in Germany, all the Germans said “we didn’t know. . .we are not Nazis.” He never forgot the horrible odor that made him nauseous. One from his group left because of the smell, he stayed so he wouldn’t forget. Years later, a jeweler came to his house and said he was a Buchenwald survivor and they both cried. He spoke about cutting off some of his toes to survive.
Mr. Stasson came back to Michigan, went to college and became a music teacher. He became concert master of the Jewish Community Center Orchestra and received degrees (Bachelor and Master of Music) at Wayne University and earned his PhD from the University of Michigan. He was head of the Fine Arts Department at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit. He also organized and conducted the Shaarey Zedek Youth Symphony which he conducted for seventeen years.
Date: March 21, 1994