Thursday, May 10, 2001

Donated photos recall Holocaust

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        ERLANGER — Ruth Wesley still doesn't comprehend why 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. But Wednesday, the Erlanger woman did her part to make sure others never forget.

        Mrs. Wesley, 81, donated 11 photographs to Hebrew Union College's Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. Her brother, the late Frank Sizemore, served in the U.S. Army in 1945 and was part of a field artillery unit that was among the first to liberate the Dachau death camp in 1945 just outside of Munich, Germany.

        “I'll never understand how Hitler convinced everybody to follow his orders,” Mrs. Wesley said.

        The pictures will be part of “Mapping Our Tears,” an interactive educational exhibit featuring Tristate Holocaust survivors. It will open this fall.

        Gail Mermelstein, project director for HUC's Combined Generations of the Holocaust, said the exhibit, which will open this fall, uses words and experiences of some 500 survivors, including some 60 Tristaters who spent time in concentration or death camps.

        According to center director Racelle Weiman, Mrs. Wesley's pictures are the exhibit's first donation.

        “The story for us is not (the) pictures,” Ms. Weiman said. “It's that (Mr. Sizemore) saw himself as an eyewitness. He is a liberator, so we have to tell the story; it's the telling of the story that's important.”

        And the pictures from Dachau in 1945 tell a gruesome story.

        One of Mr. Sizemore's photos features an unidentified man on one knee in front of a truck full of remains of death camp victims. Others show piles of bones at various camp locations.

        Mrs. Wesley said Mr. Sizemore, who died last December, was 29 in 1945.He had seen death before he arrived at Dachau — he served under Gen. George Patton and was a veteran of campaigns in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

        But nothing prepared to what he saw at Dachau. Mrs. Wesley said her brother carried the pictures in his shirt pocket until he came home from the war as a reminder of the evil of which man is capable.

        “The Holocaust hurt him more than anything,” Mrs. Wesley said. “It almost put him under.”

        Mrs. Wesley's children eventually took possession of the pictures to make sure people know the Holocaust and she said her brother reacted the way most people would have.

        “He was grateful he could help,” Mrs. Wesley said. “It takes everybody to do their little bit to make things better. I know that Frank was a humane person.”


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