Spring 2001
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TCU Magazine "Letters"
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Back to Buchenwald

Mr. John Mitchell Williams' letter recounting his experience photographing Buchenwald was interesting. I was at Buchenwald prior to Mr. Williams '49. I was a member of one of the infantry companies "liberating" Buchenwald. We had been alerted of the possibility of finding a distressing situation. The camp was approached from the northwest corner, almost diagonally opposite the entrance to the camp.

The companies ahead of mine surrounded the camp to capture the SS company and protect the prisoners. My company had the unpleasant task of preventing the prisoners from escaping. We were told to have no contact with them or give them any of the rations we carried. It was heart rending to see the men wearing little covering standing in the cold begging for food and help.

Specially trained units followed us. After the camp had been secured and the SS unit imprisoned, the special units entered the camp to assess the prisoners' needs and to manage the task. Then, we were withdrawn. How long we watched the prisoners is not remembered; it seemed about five or six hours. It actually might have been only three or four hours.

Eventually we retreated to the town of Fulda. Fifty years later, I visited Buchenwald. The return occurred on a rainy day. Leaving Weimar, the bus approached a foggy scene. The higher up the hill, the worse the fog became. At the camp, visibility was, at most, 25 feet. The camp became a mirage. A quick check of the area was made before retreating to the Bahnhof. With the rain increasing, it was impossible to walk around Weimar.

While waiting in the station to return to Leipzig, an old man tried to talk to university students lunching there. From what I overheard, he tried to convince the students to become Nazis. The students were uninterested but he was insistent. The scene had the potential of a conflict until the students put him in his place.

Robert A. Sporre '57 (MFA)
St. Paul, Minn.

A question of tolerance

I know that it was stated in the fall issue that there were to be no more letters on the "C" in TCU, but after reading the letters in that edition and the feature article on Elie Weisel, I felt I had to respond.

According to the rationale presented by the Christian conservative letter writers, Mr. Weisel and the Holocaust victims pictured at Buchenwald would not be eligible for salvation, but the Nazis, many of whom professed to be Christians, would be. And isn't the idea of an "intolerant God" somewhat of an oxymoron?

Bob Dougherty '73
Syracuse, N.Y.

Dear Fran

Let me first say that Coach Franchione did a wonderful job turning our football team around. I enjoyed the winning streak as much as the next Horned Frog. That is why it was especially upsetting to me, and I'm sure many others, when the coach abandoned his team in the manner he did.

I have no problem with the man taking a job somewhere else for more money, but to dump his players before their final big game, and then to show up at the game, irked me off more than I care to express in this forum. I was particularly ticked when he decided to wear a red tie to the Heisman banquet. I thought this man had class.

During his years at TCU, he definitely knew how to win. It's a pity his entrance was better than his exit.

David Alan Hall '87
Ojai, Calif.

Corder kudos

TCU quietly lost a treasure last year when Roberta Corder retired. Although she also served as a general studies advisor, it was her passion for study abroad as the Study Abroad Coordinator that led our paths to cross.

Roberta literally changed the course of my life, and so many others, through her continual encouragement of student travel abroad. She committed her professional life to TCU and the University is a better place because of it. She continues to inspire me to seek out international educational opportunities, and I have adopted her passion to encourage others.

I hope that someday my children will be lucky enough to have someone like Roberta in their lives. A person that reminds you that anything is possible -- if you just open your eyes and look at the world.

Kyla Martin '92