By Melissa Garcia
DENVER (CBS4) – A 94-year-old World War II veteran will soon reunite with some of the prisoners he saved from a Nazi Germany death camp 71 years ago.
Sid Shafner, a retired Army corporal and death camp liberator will depart for the reunion in Poland on Tuesday.
“War is hell,” said Shafner, of Nazi Germany in 1945.
From his retirement community home in Denver, Shafner showed CBS4’s Melissa Garcia dozens of haunting photos from the Dachau death camp. He also still has the guards’ cameras that snapped the photos. One picture showed the prisoners’ housing as they awaited their last breaths in a gas chamber.
Shafner was one of the first American soldiers to walk into that place of terror.
“Walking into the camp, (I felt) total shock. (There were) a lot of sick people.”
Shafner’s troop helped free an estimated 30,000 prisoners, mostly Jews.
On Tuesday, nonprofit organization Friends of the Israel Defense Forces will fly him to Poland to reunite with the holocaust survivors he saved.
He said that the 10-day trip will stir up strong emotion related to the unforgettable torture that he saw in Germany.
“I feel angry,” said Shafner. “They’ll be taking me to show me concentration camps or show me Auschwitz and I’ll probably be angry then.”
In another photo Shafner is pictured alongside fellow soldiers. Shafner is now the only one of them who is still alive to attend the special commemoration trip to honor his role in the liberation.
“What my regret is, I shouldn’t be the only one celebrating and taking the trip. These fellows should be with me, but they’re not,” said Shafner, pointing to the photo.
After a tour through Poland, Shafner will make one final stop to meet with the president of Israel.