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Veteran warns not to forget
The Rotary Club of McMinnville honored the dead and warned the living on Thursday with a presentation by Danielle Kahane-Kaminsky, executive director of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. She offered a video presentation of survivors and liberators who live in Tennessee.

Germany invaded Poland 78 years ago, beginning what would be World War II.
On Sept. 1, 1939, German forces, with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, defeated the Polish army within weeks of the invasion. Poland remained under German occupation until January 1945.
The timeframe between September 1939 and January 1945 was a dark time. The Holocaust was a genocide in which some 6 million European Jews were killed.
Harry Snodgrass, who was a liberator of the Buchenwald concentration camp, said what he saw was unbelievable.
“We saw the gate,” said Snodgrass. “It was Buchenwald. Some of the inmates were lying outside on the ground. I kneeled down to see if they were breathing or if they were dead. Some of them were dead and some of them were breathing. It was obvious they were starved. I’ve seen dead cows and dead horses, but I’ve never seen dead people. I remember thinking it would have been much more humane if they had shot them instead of starving them to death.”
While some were left to starve to death, others were shot.
“This man, he must not have been there very long because he was healthy, asked me if I wanted him to show me some things,” said Snodgrass. “He took me in this building and it had a dirt floor. It was something like you would have for a horse arena. He said ‘this is where they brought people at night to kill them.’ He said they would have people kneel down and they would come behind them with a gun and shoot them in the head.”
Snodgrass said the soldiers were in shock and disbelief that such atrocities were allowed to take place.
“What blew my mind is the German people were not dumb people,” he said. “All (Hitler) had to do was get about 200 people to believe like he did and the other people were scared. I don’t think it should be put behind us. It did happen.”
Some people insist the Holocaust did not happen and it was an exaggeration. Snodgrass says he understands their disbelief because he might have felt that same.
“I wonder, if I had hadn’t seen that, how would I have thought. It would be easy for me to believe it never happened. I know what I saw. I’ve never seen anything like that. I hope I never see it again. It, certainly, had an impression on my life. I’ve believed all my life that all evil needs to exist is for good people to do nothing.”
Snodgrass was born in Johnson City, Tenn. in 1922, and his video testimony was one of several offered during Thursday’s Rotary Club of McMinnville noon luncheon.
The guest speaker was Danielle Kahane-Kaminsky, the executive director of Tennessee Holocaust Commission. She is a first-generation American child of Belgian Holocaust refugees.
She said, “Our survivors and liberators continue to speak and tell their stories because they made a promise that if they survived they would tell their story to try and ensure that tragedies regarding human beings are never forgotten and we remember all of us are one race. We are the human race. It’s important that we work together toward a more humane society. The more global our world becomes I think the more important it is for us to see each other as human beings. To see each other less for our differences and more for our similarities.”
Given special recognition during the luncheon were WWII veterans Capt. Howard Locke and Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles L. Smith.
Locke was a pilot who served in the U.S. Army Air Corp from 1942-1946. He served in England, France, Italy and during D-Day.
Smith served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1946. He served in North Africa, Italy and during the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Kahane-Kaminsky can be heard this week in the “Focus” interview series on public radio WCPI 91.3. The 35-minute program will air Tuesday at 5 p.m., Wednesday at 5:05 a.m., Thursday at 1 p.m., and Friday at 1:05 a.m.