NATIONAL NEWS

He saw the horrors of Dachau. Now, this veteran warns against Holocaust denial

May 28, 2024, 8:39 AM | Updated: 9:00 am

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — A profile of Hilbert Margol, of Dunwoody, Georgia, one of a dwindling number of veterans took part in the Allies’ European war effort that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

PFC HILBERT MARGOL

BORN: Feb. 22, 1924, Jacksonville, Florida.

SERVICE: Army, Battery B, 392nd Field Artillery Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division. Was part of a unit, also including his twin brother, Howard Margol, that liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp on April 29, 1945.

“OUTLIVE THE OFFSPRING OF THE DENIERS”

Victory over Germany was in sight for the Allies on April 29, 1945, as the 42nd Infantry Division stormed toward Munich. Hilbert Margol and his twin brother Howard, now deceased, were part of an artillery convoy heading for the city on a two-lane road through the woods. As Margol remembers it, the convoy was stopped and the Howard brothers were permitted by their sergeant to investigate the source of a stench wafting over the area. After a short walk through the woods they spotted boxcars.

A human leg dangled from one of them.

“So we looked and inside the box car were all deceased bodies, just packed inside the box car,” Margol said.

The 42nd Infantry is among those credited with liberating the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. The Margol brothers were among the first Americans to discover the lingering horrors at the camp, which was established in 1933 and became a symbol of Nazi atrocities. More than 200,000 people from across Europe were held there and over 40,000 prisoners died there in horrendous conditions.

Hilbert Margol remembers seeing “stacks of dead bodies like cordwood” once they went in the gates. “We couldn’t understand what what was going on. It was almost like a Hollywood movie set.”

The brothers had entered military life together in 1942, joining an ROTC program at the University of Florida — figuring that after Pearl Harbor they would wind up in the military at some point. They joined an Army Reserve unit later, after being told that might enable them to finish college, but they were called to active duty in 1943, Margol said,

They were separated for a while, in training for different missions. But Howard eventually was able to transfer to where his brother was serving with an artillery unit in Oklahoma. Eventually, they deployed to Europe in the aftermath of D-Day.

After seeing combat, death and destruction, Margol came home to find success in business.

“One of the promises I made to myself in combat, that if I was fortunate enough to make it back home, I was going to buy every creature comfort that I could afford,” Margol told the AP.

But success and comfort weren’t the only things driving him. He has spoken at programs about the Holocaust, noting what was found at Dachau.

“I hope and pray that everyone who hears my voice, and their offspring, outlive the offspring of the deniers that say the Holocaust never happened.”

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He saw the horrors of Dachau. Now, this veteran warns against Holocaust denial