With any local remembrance of the liberation of German concentration camps, there comes to mind Robert F. Patton. Robert was very active with his military unit association and worked well into his 90’s as an activist supporting remembrance of The Holocaust.
Robert was honored by Israel with the award of the ISRAELI MEDAL OF HONOR on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005.
We could list his many accomplishments here, but the list appears endless. We find more and more stories about Robert Patton and his efforts in North Carolina, our country, and in Austria to ensure that no one forgets The Holocaust. Do a Google search for Robert Patton 65th Infantry and you, too, will be amazed.
If Robert Patton was still with us and we asked the question, “Should we do something to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz?”, the answer would have been a resounding, “Yes!” But, Robert passed away last Spring. He was our local ambassador for programs and projects having to do with The Holocaust and especially the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Remembering the Holocaust was very important to him.
His unit, the U.S. 65th Infantry Division, Third Army, liberated Mauthausen. He was very young at the time and that day was as vivid to him as life itself. He returned to Europe several times and on a trip in about the year 2000 he had the opportunity to visit Mauthausen again.
Robert shared his experience with me. He told me about the camp, the prisoners, and the tragic state of affairs on liberation. He then told me about a huge mass grave that was then, when seen again, a grassy area. The area was about an acre. When he first saw it, there were bodies stacked up in the open grave, yet no marker was visible. No memorial. Nothing. The grave held about 10,000 people. Learn more
He shared his memories with those he met and asked the question, “Why? Why is there no memorial?” He was not satisfied with the answers he got and the absence of a marker and decided to fight to correct this wrong. It took years of effort before a decision was made to erect a memorial on the grave site. Robert Patton was there for its dedication.
Chapel Hill Post 6 joined with VFW C. V. Cummings Chapel Hill Post 9100 to participate in a local commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 26, 2015. Read stories at these links:
To learn more about Robert F. Patton, visit
- Veterans Memorial at Chapel Hill
- American Legion Post 6 – Our Heroes
- Veterans of Foreign Wars, Chapel Hill – Our Fallen Heroes