Man donates Holocaust photos, uncle’s diary, to museums
By JOHN MATUSZAK
AP Member Exchange
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — Loren Allison was drafted into the Army during World War II in 1944, at age 18, and arrived in Europe in spring 1945, as combat with the Germans was coming to a close.
“He joked that when the Germans heard he was coming, they surrendered,” recalled his nephew, Greg Glaske, of St. Joseph.
While he missed combat, Allison, of South Bend, took part in one of the major post-war events, serving as a clerk in the War Crimes office. He returned with a unique record of the tragedy of the Holocaust — photographs of the destruction of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto by the Nazis.
This historical record stayed hidden (though copies of many were published) until Allison died in 2011 and family members, including Glaske, began cleaning out his house. In a shoe box, they found a cache of what appear to be original photos from the Stroop Report, the Nazi account of the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, named for SS General Jurgen Stroop, who oversaw the operation.
The Stroop photos were taken as part of the Nazi propaganda machine celebrating the annihilation of Jewish people, but were turned on them during war crimes trials, including at Nuremberg.
Allison’s belongings also included graphic photographs of the execution of Nazi spies and others by the U.S. military, with names and details of their crimes typed on the back of the prints.
Although the family knew that Allison had worked in the War Crimes office, it wasn’t something he spoke a lot about.
And they had no idea he had returned to the U.S. with a collection of heartbreaking images of Jewish people being rounded up, bodies stacked in the streets, and ragged and emaciated children.
“I was kind of shocked to find the pictures,” said Glaske, who researched them for a year to verify their authenticity.
The Herald-Palladium reports that those photos are being donated to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel, and copies of the photos and Allison’s diary are being sent to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. for a special exhibit.
While many of the photos are in the public domain, others have never been published, Glaske said.
The photos will be personally carried to Israel this week by Marty Marcus, a St. Joseph native and friend of Glaske’s, now living in San Francisco.
It was Marcus who first made contact with the museum in Israel. He said the curators will verify the authenticity of the images. They have received copies, and based on their quality and the dates and other information on the back of the prints, they are confident that they are originals, he said.
“They said the quality of Greg’s photos is much better than some of theirs,” Marcus said.
Glaske said he believes the photos are original because the photo paper is the type in use at that time. And some of the photos aren’t in the public domain, he added.
He said his mother thinks that Allison typed the comments on the back of the photos, which would explain how he obtained them.
While other family members were reluctant to delve into the past, Glaske was determined to find out more about his uncle’s experiences and the people who were persecuted by the Nazis. He said he wished he had been able to see the photos with his uncle and get more details before he died.
“It was the defining experience of his life,” Glaske said.
Loren Allison was drafted on Aug. 17, 1944, according to the diary he kept during his time in the service. His older brother, Harry, known as Red, enlisted a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor and saw combat in the Philippines, Saipan and Iwo Jima.
The diary chronicles his basic training and assignments to other camps, before being alerted they were shipping out, on his 19th birthday. President Franklin Roosevelt had died the day before, and was buried on the day that Allison and the others boarded their ship bound for Europe.
They made their way through France, and in September Allison was informed that he was being assigned to Allied Supreme Headquarters, in Frankfurt, Germany. He was transferred to Weisbaden, where he started a romance with a German girl.
By day, Allison was playing a part in the effort to prosecute the perpetrators of the genocide that claimed the lives of 6 million Jewish people.
One of the most notorious war criminals was Jurgen Stroop, the SS leader in occupied Poland who ordered and meticulously recorded the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the murder of more than 50,000 men, women and children.