A World War II medic who was taken prisoner Jan. 6, 1945, at the Battle of the Bulge, Anthony Acevedo endured four months at Berga concentration camp in Germany. During that time, Acevedo kept a secret diary recording Nazi atrocities and deaths of fellow prisoners of war.
Soldiers were starved and brutalized with rubber hoses and bayonets. Some were fatally shot in the head with wooden bullets. The Nazis forced Acevedo to fill the holes in the heads of his fellow soldiers with wax to cover up the killings.
When Berga was liberated, Acevedo weighed only 87 pounds. But he still had his diary and was determined to honor those who died. To do so, Acevedo recorded an oral history and donated personal artifacts, including his diary and medic’s band, to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“A living memorial to the Holocaust, the museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity,” says Kristy Buechner, museum communications specialist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The museum provides a powerful lesson in the fragility of freedom, the myth of progress, and the need for vigilance in preserving democratic values.”
Opened in 1993, the museum was founded after President Jimmy Carter established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
“Visitors are particularly moved by the Tower of Faces, a three-floor-high segment of the exhibition devoted to the Jewish community of the Lithuanian town of Eisiskes, and the museum’s display of several thousand shoes from victims of the Majdanek killing center,” Buechner says. Group tours receive free admission.
The museum and its message are even more important now, Buechner says. “Today, we face an alarming rise in Holocaust denial and antisemitism as well as genocide and threats of genocide in other parts of the world. And this is happening just as our best teachers, the survivors, are diminishing in number. The Holocaust offers important lessons in the dangers of antiaemitism and hatred, lessons that are increasingly critical in our world.”
Anthony Acevedo died Feb. 11, 2018, at age 93. His personal story and mementos are treasured at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
For more information on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum call 202-488-0400 or visit ushmm.org.
Main Image and Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Article by Jackie Sheckler Finch