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The Lucky Ones: Allied Airmen in Buchenwald

Tom Blackham: If I remember rightly, this is the siding that we arrived at.

Jim Hastin: Oh yeah.

Tom Blackham: Backwards, pulled up, from Weimar. And we went right up to the end and then the S.S. guards were shouting, screeching, dogs barking. And we had seen lines of the guards if I remember rightly also all the way up. This is round about half past 10, 11:00 in the morning.

Ed Carter-Edwards: Yes.

Jim Hastin: Mid-morning.

Tom Blackham: And the train stopped the engine up there. And all the doors opened and it seemed absolute mayhem . . . . People were being pulled out, dragged out, kicked and generally knocked about. But the whole atmosphere of tension and apprehension and all that we had been anticipating I think came to a head as those doors opened.

Jim Hastin: The thing that I think kind of got me was the electric fence, because it was high voltage you know.

Ed Carter-Edwards: It was very forbidding.

Jim Hastin: You could hear it every once in a while snapping because of a little short I guess and you could hear it buzzing.

Ed Carter-Edwards: As we got close to the camp and saw what was inside the camp, a terrible, terrible fear and horror entered our hearts. We thought, what is this? Where are we going? Why are we here? And as you got closer to the camp and started to enter the camp and saw these human skeletons walking around - old men, young men, boys, just skin and bone, we thought, what are we getting into?

Eric Johnston: The first thing that affected me was when we got in that shower room after we'd been stripped. And we got in that shower room and that guy got to work with those chairs. And oh my god, and I looked outside and here's all the other blokes outside all stripped of everything. I think that affected me. What the hell have we got ourselves into here.

Tom Blakham: We all thought that it was the gassing chambers that we were going into. And of course the fact that they used their clippers on us in every way before hand would indicate, and took our clothes and we're standing in the nude at this time for some time and then in.

Jim Hastin: And never seeing them again after the shower, this is true.

Tom Blackham: Packed into the shower rooms. I mean we could hardly move there were so many in there. And the little light and water and whatever else that looked like to us was going to come on and one of them was going to be either good or bad.

Jim Hastin: Yeah. We had no food that day. And I don't believe we gt any that night either. We may have got a piece of bread.

Tom Blackham: (overlap)..... like this.

Jim Hastin: But it was rather cool and we all huddled together, slept on the stones that night. And it was I think the next day that the Russians got us some blankets. We got one blanket for five men. And I remember it was always a scramble to see who'd get in the middle.

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