"Hearing one person tell their story gave a completely different perspective to what happened, as it wasn't about statistics or about a nation as a whole, but one person who lost his family and home." ~O. Avery (student)
You can easily download and print his biography here (pdf)
Don Greenbaum was born in Philadelphia and was one of three children. His father was a leather manufacturer in the Wynnefield neighborhood.
In 1943, Don graduated from a military school in Georgia and joined the American Army. He was 18 years old.
He served as a Forward Observer for the 283rd Field Artillery Battalion. His job was to ride in front of the army and spot German positions. He then reported in and called for artillery barrages. On November 9th, 1944 he was wounded in Aachen, Germany and was awarded the Purple Heart.
After he was released from the army hospital, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. He was under the direction of General George Patton’s Third Army, which rapidly advanced through Germany.
By late April 1945, allied troops were liberating concentration camps throughout Germany. On April 29th, 1945, Don and other troops from the Third Army were on their way to seize a Germany army supply depot but stumbled across the Dachau concentration camp. They were not prepared for what they witnessed. As they approached, “there was an odor we could not identify.” They did not encounter any Germans because they fled before the American troops arrived but what he saw on that horrific day forever changed his life. He was 20 years old and helped liberate approximately 32,000 prisoners, many starving and near death.
After the war, Don returned home to Philadelphia, got married, and never discussed the war and his experiences until the mid 1990s.