Gil Blum | Technical Sergeant (First Class), U.S. Army, 4th Calvary Reconnaissance Regiment | Served in Scotland, England, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria during WWII | Received the following medals for his service: WWII Victory Medal, Central Europe Campaign Star, Rhineland Campaign Star, EAME Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal.
As the war drew to a close, in April of 1945, Mr. Blum and his infantry moved through the dark, cold, rainy Harz Mountains in Northern Germany to eliminate some 85,000 German forces. With a successful mission accomplished, the group moved onto “mopping-up” operations along the Elbe River, witnessing the carnage and devastation of war.
“One of the stories that will forever be embedded in my memory is coming into this town late to the dance, so to speak, because our tank needed repair. So we weren’t there for the fighting. We came shortly after. And I walked into this town and there was a store whose door was embedded, so it had glass windows, and a few feet in lies the door. And in this little alcove were two soldiers, lying there, one on top of the other, dead. One American and one German. It’s an image that I will always have, but I will always wonder what took place to create that scene.”
Sergeant Blum also moved through the cold, dark and rainy Harz Mountains in the north central area of Germany.
The region is the source of many legends about witchcraft and sorcery due to its grim and eerie nature.
“We were in the Harz Mountains. And we were always in a rush it seemed. We were always going from town to town. We were the reconnaissance after all. And Harz Mountains are very, very dark. Full of trees all over. As we’re coming around this bend, out from behind the tree, comes this ten year old boy. Couldn’t be more than ten. And he’s screaming on top of his lungs “I’m Jewish! I’m Jewish! I’m Jewish!” And we stopped the tank and he’s yelling up to the tank commander, and the tank commander says to him – obviously, someone had told him when the Americans come, just tell them you’re Jewish and they’ll take care of you. Well, that’s what he did, and the tank commander says to him “You stay right here. In a little bit, Headquarters Company is gonna come along. Another group is gonna come along. You tell them that you’re Jewish. They’ll take care of you.” And he stood by that tree, and I have that image of him standing by that tree looking so forlorn. I see him getting smaller and smaller and smaller and I just wonder whatever happened to that kid or what his story was.”