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Sauk Centre Veteran Recalls Nightmarish Scene He Witnessed During World War II
Motzko and his brother Jerry joined the Long Prairie National Guard in 1940, and in February 1941 they left Clarissa for California. Ed was sent overseas in September 1944 as a member of the 102nd Infantry Division of the 9th U.S. Army. They started in the Netherlands, and by April 1945 they were marching through German land on their way to the Elbe River to meet the Russians.
The Gardelegen prisoners were forced to march 600 miles in 20 days as the Russians chased their Nazi captors. There was little food and little sympathy for anyone who tired, or got injured. “They were starved, and the bulk of them died,” Motzko said. “The ones that didn’t die, they killed. It was torture, torture, torture,,,
- More than 1,000 prisoners died at Gardelegen when the Nazis herded them inside a barn filled with gasoline-soaked straw and lit a match. Motzko, 89, was part of the effort to rescue the few survivors and nurse them back to health. And as the world today recognizes Holocaust Remembrance Day, Motzko continues to share his story with the hope that the world will take notice and prevent future genocides..
He has shared that story with author Michael Hirsh in a new book called “The Liberators: America’s Witnesses to the Holocaust.” Read more.